Modern project managers not only deal with increasingly complex teams but also a marketplace in constant flux. Success depends on the ability to meet the needs of the customer timeously as much as the leadership’s ability to coordinate its internal structures.
A team that fails to meet the former requirement is guaranteed failure, as customers will not subscribe to the products or services which do not meet expectations or are delivered late. On the other hand, teams with a brilliant idea in a market searching for it are still not guaranteed success if their internal processes are not optimized.
Competitors with faster and more flexible systems will inevitably usurp a trail-blazer in disarray.
There are several project management methods that can be employed to optimize performance and outcomes. Agile methodologies emerged out of necessity and were recognized in the mid-’90s. Existing plan-driven project management software strategies were failing due to their unnecessary complexity, inflexibility, and expense.
The Agile Manifesto, which was introduced as part of the Agile movement in 2001, declares customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software as its highest priority.
Unlike heavyweight software methodologies, Agile software development tends to be lightweight and highly adaptive to changes. Heavyweight strategies focussed on the project as a monolith, often characterized by in-depth pre-planning, predetermined timelines, and significant interdependence between stages.
Agile methodologies fragment projects into smaller, independent, and testable segments.
If changes are required to the project, teams utilizing heavyweight methodologies face the significant prospect of altering the entire project architecture, completing a prototype, and then testing it for errors.
This is a long process in terms of both development and testing, and it assumes a perfect flow of information between teams and individuals working on separate functions – which is not often the case.
This makes the prospect of sudden project changes an unwelcome one. Conversely, Agile teams are defined by project management methods designed for quick responsiveness to change.
Agile methodologies incorporate customer collaboration such that software continuously adapts to customer needs rather than customers accepting software as a rigid tool with limited functionality.
To achieve these and other characteristics of Agile software development, different approaches have been developed. Among the leading methodologies are Scrum and Kanban.
Scrum Framework and Kanban Method
Scrum was developed as early as 1986 and is based on empirical process control theory. In essence, project teams using empirical process control do not attempt to define the scope of the product or the process to build it before the initiation.
Instead, a project is divided into smaller, distinct tasks. These tasks are to be completed in a short and fixed amount of time, a sprint. While making changes to a process or product during a sprint is discouraged, Scrum’s iterative and incremental approach ensures the team remains flexible and responsive enough to customer input and changes in the environment.
Scrum is a rather rigid framework with clearly defined key roles in its structure. The product owner is an internal or external entity that determines the requirements and goals of the product.
The product owner also manages the backlog and maximizes the value of the project. In addition to managing the product backlog, the scrum master plays a supporting role in organizing meetings, ensuring effective communication, optimizing team performance, and addressing any issues or obstacles faced by the team.
Finally, the development team is the one behind the execution of sprints. It is self-organized and skilled.
The unit is responsible for delivering usable increments of the product. Sprints are time-boxed and can last between a couple of weeks to a month.
While the Scrum framework has a predetermined structure, project teams can implement the Kanban method into preexisting organizational setups. Kanban methodology is derived from Just-In-Time delivery and seeks to limit the amount of work-in-progress for any particular project.
Whereas time-boxed sprints are at the core of the Scrum framework, Kanban is based on continuous delivery. Limited work-in-progress results in shorter cycle times and faster responsiveness to changes.
A key aspect of Kanban methodology is a visualization of the workflow. Teams can utilize a card wall or a dashboard that is continuously updated with the status of tasks in every step of the process.
Not only does this assist in enforcing work-in-progress limitations, but it also allows for a high degree of visibility and transparency. Teams are then able to identify any bottlenecks and opportunities for increased efficiency or cost management in the process.
Agile Methodology Selection
Agile methodologies are demonstrably more effective than utilizing complex and rigid monolithic approaches in terms of project quality, lead times, risk and cost control, customer engagement, and product success.
Several studies into which of these Agile strategies are more efficient have been done, producing inconclusive results. A pioneering study found that a business that switched from Scrum to Kanban reduced its lead times and improved productivity.
However, a follow-up and more generalized investigation into these methodologies found no statistically significant advantage of implementing one methodology over the other, even though the data suggested that Kanban may be slightly more efficient.
Successful implementation of one methodology over the other relies on the characteristics of the project in question. When managing a project schedule is as critical as consistency in project quality, Kanban is the most effective approach.
These kinds of projects often feature repeatable work and feature skilled and specialized individuals as part of the team. Scrum works better for projects that require high levels of collaboration and innovation in cross-functional teams.
Despite these differences, these Agile methodologies commonly break down projects into smaller tasks, rely on self-organized teams, emphasize transparency, and quickly adapt to changes. Teams in such projects require tools that support these principles.
These include platforms on which members can access information regarding scheduling, process performances, and keeping track of changes. Project management software, such as that provided by UXPin improves the efficiency of Agile methodologies by providing a platform for seamless collaboration, informative dashboards with key performance indicators, critical timelines, and effective communication.