Agile Process Management – A Brief Introduction

The speed of software development is ever-hastening. Consumers expect it and companies understand that they are required to fulfill this expectation–if they don’t, someone else will. Because of this demand, software development teams have been searching for ways to quicken their development process. They have brought in more team members and better software. It helped but wasn’t really enough. There continue to be bumps in the road, also known as bottlenecks. The stress of releasing software on time increases with each passing year. With the development of the agile project management methodology, however, this all began to change.

The beauty of agile comes in with its incremental nature and use of empiricism to focus on three “I”s – Interaction, Iteration, and Improvement.Pearl Zhu

What Is Agile Process Management?

Agile process management is an iterative approach to the development of any service or product which is also repeatable. Instead of slowly working on different pieces of a service or product, then finishing and compiling everything at the end of the project, agile breaks projects down into smaller pieces. Teams then prioritize those pieces and continuously deliver each part in iterations–usually two to four-week cycles.

How Does Agile Process Management Work?

The simplest way to think about agile in general is the same way individuals look at long to-do lists. It needs to be written down and prioritized.

First, the team sits down and lists the features or pieces that they would like to see in the product or service. In the software development world, each item on this list is called a user story. These ‘user stories’ are the to-do list. Second, each item on the list is analyzed and compared to the others. The team works together to estimate how long each feature could take to develop. Third, the team prioritizes the list. They decide what is the most important feature to develop. This goes first and the least important goes last. Fourth, the team gets to work. They build, iterate, and get feedback along the way.

One of the key differences in agile process management versus other methods of development is flexibility. If the team, or the client, decides that another piece or ‘user story’ should be implemented, it’s possible. If development is moving along too slowly, the deadline can either be extended or the scope can be cut. The agile process is anything but rigid.

What Are The Biggest Differences With Agile Process Management?

With agile process management, you’re never done. The team is continuously analyzing, designing, coding or developing, and testing. For the entirety of the project, all of these activities will be simultaneously happening. This is a major change from most traditional development models. These generally begin with an analysis, then move into design, continue into development and then finish with testing. All activities are once-off.

With traditional development, because the project is set in stone, everything is built at the same time. With agile process development, it is iterative. In other words, the team starts by building something simple and then they incrementally add to it. This enables the architecture to evolve and change. The team takes a look at their work and then refines and tweaks it.

As mentioned before, agile is flexible. While the traditional plan can be described as a straight line from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’, agile process management looks a lot loopier and curvy. Agile recognizes that reality is rarely as simple as our plans make it out to be. In the agile environment, this is called adaptive planning. The plan changes can come in many shapes and forms, but most teams just prefer to flex on the scope. This means that the duration, budget, content, and quality of the scope can vary dramatically. All of this is with the goal of addressing the biggest problem in development: Too much to do and too little time. Because of this, agile teams see less dysfunction, drama and burn out, are able to work within their means, and maintain a high amount of integrity with their plans. And this doesn’t mean that the cost will go up. The cost was the main hindrance to change in plans, but the combined benefits of modern software and open planning keep these expenses down.

One of the most significant differences between agile process management and traditional development is what team roles look like. In traditional environments, the developers are separate from the project managers who are separate from the business analysts. The same goes for user experience team members and quality assurance specialists. Each team member has their specialty and that’s what they do, and all they do. With agile, the roles are much more blended. You can think of working on an agile team like working for a mini-startup: everyone is a jack of all trades, no matter their title. Of course, every member has their own core specialty and they usually stick to that, but these roles aren’t quite so narrowly defined.

The final difference and a major tenant of the Agile Manifesto is the fact that plans just don’t matter that much. Agile teams value working products or services over analysis artifacts, test plans, and project plans. They just realize that these documents don’t make much difference to the end goal.

How do I get started with agile process management?

While agile doesn’t put much value on documentation, it does need organization and visibility. Every team member needs to know which tasks they are responsible for and which tasks everyone else is responsible for. In addition, if the team is working for a customer, it can be useful for the customer to have total visibility of project progress.

One way to accomplish this is through agile process management software. Tallyfy is one company that offers a SaaS cloud app that handles client onboarding, customer success, workflow, business process management, compliance and process improvement.

The workflow feature allows teams to develop master processes. This eliminates the need for complex workflow systems and replaces them with a simple, actionable checklist. This feature is the perfect way for agile teams to build and prioritize their ‘user story’ checklist. And then within this checklist, users can customize the fields of information needed, add project leaders, and set deadlines.

This checklist is also interactive, so that not only can team members see what needs to be done, but they can also find out why, report problems, make suggestions and comments, and mark the step as completed. Because of this intuitive system, teams can better collaborate, improve their tracking, increase the flexibility on the project, and handle problems more efficiently and effectively.

One other effective aspect of Tallyfy’s app is the fact that teams are able to measure their success. Everything they do is recorded. The entire team can see who did what and when they did it. This audit trail is not only useful for compliance, but also for improving–what gets measured, gets improved.

For years – agile process management not really been done at all – it has been mainly written down on paper and hung up on a wall. When the team is at work, they see what they need to do, and hopefully, these lists and guidelines are updated regularly. With Tallyfy’s cloud app, the possibility of human error is removed. The app is tracking everyone’s work. At its core, the app allows agile teams to avoid a headache and distraction of paperwork and documentation, while still embracing the benefit of clarity and organization of agile process management.

Agile Process Management is a very common technique in software development. However, it can be used in many other fields as well. Have you had any experience with Agile Process Management in your field of work? Let us know in the comments below!

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