Step by Step Guide to Agile Project Management

Agile project management is an iterative approach that focuses on flexibility, collaboration, and delivering value to customers.

It enables teams to adapt to change, work efficiently, and deliver high-quality products incrementally. Learn how Tallyfy can help streamline your agile workflows.

Who is this article for?

  • Software development companies looking to improve project efficiency and adapt to change
  • Manufacturing, engineering, and product development firms wanting to apply agile principles
  • Any organization managing complex, innovative projects that require flexibility
  • Project managers, scrum masters, product owners, development team members
  • Executives and leadership teams overseeing project portfolios and methodologies

Agile project management is relevant for any company managing projects in fast-changing environments where requirements evolve. The roles listed need to understand agile principles to effectively lead and contribute to agile projects.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management (APM) is an iterative approach to planning and executing projects that focuses on flexibility, collaboration, and delivering incremental value to customers. Unlike traditional “waterfall” methods that follow a linear, sequential process, agile projects are completed in short cycles called iterations or sprints.

Quote

Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

– Agile Manifesto principle


The agile approach enables project teams to adapt to changing requirements, get rapid feedback from customers, and continuously improve the product throughout development. This is especially valuable for complex projects where needs are not fully known upfront.
Key characteristics of agile project management include:
  • Breaking projects into small, manageable pieces
  • Delivering working software or product increments frequently
  • Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  • Face-to-face communication as the most efficient way to convey information
  • Regular reflection and process adjustment by self-organizing teams

Fact

According to the Project Management Institute, 71% of organizations report using agile approaches sometimes, often, or always. (Source)

How does Agile Project Management work?

Agile teams work in short iterations, with each cycle focused on delivering a small batch of working features. The process generally looks like this:

  1. Product owner creates a prioritized product backlog of features and requirements
  2. Team pulls the highest priority items into a sprint backlog and plans out the work
  3. Development team builds the features in a short sprint, usually 1-4 weeks
  4. Team demonstrates the working software to stakeholders at the end of the sprint
  5. Team reflects on how to improve, then starts the next sprint cycle

Throughout the process, agile teams use practices like continuous integration, test-driven development, pair programming, and continuous deployment to ensure quality and keep feedback loops short. Visual management tools like Kanban boards and burndown charts provide transparency into progress.

Tip

Agile teams should have all the skills needed to complete their work, so consider forming small cross-functional teams with 5-9 dedicated members.


While a project manager is not required in agile, many organizations still use them in a facilitator role. Project managers may serve as scrum masters who guide the process or coordinate multiple agile teams.

What are the benefits of Agile Project Management?

Organizations adopt agile project management to gain advantages like:

  • Flexibility to adapt to change and handle uncertainty
  • Faster time to market by releasing early and often
  • Higher product quality through test-driven methods and frequent feedback
  • Increased customer satisfaction and engagement
  • More productive and engaged teams with collective ownership
  • Better alignment between IT and business objectives

Fact

60% of agile projects experience 3 times the success rate compared to waterfall projects. (Vitality Chicago)


Research shows agile methods can significantly reduce costs and time to market while improving quality. A study by Conforto et al. (2014) found opportunities for industries beyond software, like manufacturing, to adopt agile practices to manage innovation projects.

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However, agile is not a silver bullet. Challenges can include:
  • Organizational resistance to change
  • Difficulties scaling agile to large projects and teams
  • Lack of upfront planning and documentation
  • Highly collaborative nature may not fit all cultures and personalities

The key is finding the right balance and adaptation of agile principles for your context. Many organizations use hybrid approaches that combine aspects of agile and waterfall as needed.

What are some popular Agile methods and practices?

There are several established agile project management frameworks and practices:

  • Scrum – a framework with roles, events, and artifacts to manage work in sprints
  • Kanban – a workflow method that visualizes work on boards and limits work in progress
  • Extreme Programming (XP) – a software development method with practices like pair programming and continuous integration
  • Lean – principles from lean manufacturing applied to software to maximize value and minimize waste
  • Adaptive Project Framework – a structured yet flexible framework that allows for learning and discovery

Tip

Consider your team’s and organization’s context when choosing an agile method. You can always start with one and adapt it as you learn.


While each has its own specific practices, they share common agile principles of iterative development, collaboration, and flexibility. Many teams combine techniques from different methods in their own unique agile process.

How can Tallyfy help with Agile Project Management?

Tallyfy offers several features that support agile project management:

Structure intake – go from standalone forms to trackable workflows

Tallyfy allows you to structure requirements gathering into repeatable workflows. Agile teams can create templates for user story intake, bug tracking, and sprint retrospectives. Submissions automatically flow into trackable processes for triage and prioritization.

If this then that – set amazingly simple and powerful conditional rules to show the right task at the right time and do more like automate assignments and deadlines

Agile teams can use Tallyfy’s if-this-then-that rules to automatically route work based on conditions. For example, high priority bugs could be automatically assigned to senior developers with faster response times. Requirements above a certain size could require additional approval steps.

Real time tracking – track the status of a workflow without asking anyone

Agile teams can use Tallyfy to visualize their workflow and track the status of features and fixes in real-time. This provides the transparency agile demands without the need for manual status updates and check-ins. Teams always know what’s in progress, what’s blocked, and what’s done.

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What are some risks and challenges to watch out for with Agile Project Management?

  • Lack of longer-term planning can make it difficult to coordinate dependencies and track against milestones. Agile teams need to find the right balance between adaptability and predictability.
  • Agile requires significant changes to organizational culture, roles, and processes. Companies need to be prepared to invest in coaching, training, and change management to make the transition.
  • Agile methods can be challenging to scale to large, complex projects. Aligning multiple teams around a common cadence and architecture requires careful coordination and leadership.
  • Teams may struggle with agile if they don’t have the right skills, tools, or executive support. Implementing agile requires full buy-in and enablement from all levels of the organization.

Quote

Agile methods are more difficult to implement than Waterfall, but they are significantly more likely to succeed. Frankly, it is hard to imagine how the increasingly fast pace of change can be managed using only Waterfall methods.

– Barry Boehm, software engineering pioneer


The key is being aware of the challenges and proactively addressing them as part of your agile transformation. With the right mindset, processes, and tools, organizations in many industries can reap significant benefits from applying agile principles to their projects.

How is AI Changing Agile Project Management?

Artificial intelligence and related technologies like machine learning are starting to have a significant impact on how agile projects are managed. AI has the potential to automate and streamline many aspects of the agile process, from sprint planning to retrospectives.

One key area where AI can help is in predicting and mitigating risks. By analyzing historical project data, AI algorithms can identify patterns and red flags that may indicate potential issues down the line. This allows agile teams to proactively address risks before they become major problems. As Conforto et al. (2014) found in their research, agile project management practices like risk management are being adopted across many industries beyond just software development.

Fact

According to the Project Management Institute, 81% of project managers believe AI will change how they manage projects over the next 3 years.

AI can also help make agile ceremonies like sprint planning and backlog grooming more efficient. Machine learning models can analyze user stories and tasks to estimate effort more accurately. This takes some of the guesswork and human bias out of the estimation process. During a sprint, AI-powered tools can track progress and predict if the team is on track to meet their goals, allowing for course-correction if needed.

Will AI Replace the Need for an Agile Project Manager?

While AI will certainly automate some project management functions, it is unlikely to completely replace the role of the agile project manager anytime soon. Agile is fundamentally a human-centric methodology that relies on close collaboration, creativity, and adaptability. An AI may be able to crunch the numbers, but it can’t replace the “soft skills” a good agile leader brings to the table.

However, agile project managers who embrace AI and learn to work alongside it will have a major competitive advantage. As Molhanec (2010) describes, the agile project management framework of the future covers the entire product lifecycle, from design to delivery. AI tools will play an increasingly important role across all these phases.

What’s Next for Agile and Artificial Intelligence?

As AI technology matures, its impact on agile project management will only grow. We can expect to see more AI-powered tools for agile ceremonies, as well as tighter integration between project management software and enterprise AI platforms. Loiro et al. (2019) even propose an “AGILE team” model that embeds AI into the core agile team structure alongside the product owner and developers.

Agile began in the software world, but has expanded far beyond it. Researchers like Gonzalez (2014) are exploring how agile and AI can be applied to other domains like manufacturing and R&D. The combination of agile methods and AI technology promises to help all kinds of organizations innovate faster and more efficiently.

Of course, challenges remain. Agile purists worry about AI diminishing the human element at the heart of agile. There are also concerns about AI bias, privacy, and the disruptive impact of automation on jobs and teams. The most successful organizations will approach the adoption of AI in agile with eyes wide open to both the benefits and risks.

Tallyfy Tango – A cheerful and alternative take

Cartoon characters brainstorming

Scene: A hip open office space with colorful bean bag chairs, whiteboards, and post-it notes everywhere. TINA, a project manager in her early 30s, is leading a sprint planning session with her team. JOSH, a cynical developer, sits slouched in a bean bag chair.

TINA: Alright team, it’s time for our sprint planning! Who’s excited for some Agile Project Management?

JOSH: (sarcastically) Oh joy, more post-it notes and arbitrary deadlines. Sign me up.

TINA: Now Josh, where’s your Agile spirit? This is all about collaboration, flexibility, and delivering value incrementally!

JOSH: I thought it was about constantly changing requirements and chasing our own tails. But tomato, tomahto.

Confused man with equations floating around his head

TINA: (sighs) Look, I know change is hard. But embracing Agile will help us adapt quickly, improve continuously, and keep our customers happy. It’s not about rigid processes, it’s about individuals and interactions.

JOSH: Fine, but if we’re valuing individuals, can I put in a request for a standing desk and better coffee?

TINA: (laughs) Baby steps, Josh. Let’s start with nailing this sprint and go from there. With a little teamwork and some Agile magic, we’ve got this!

JOSH: (smirks) Alright, I’m in. But I reserve the right to complain about story points over drinks later.

TINA: Deal. Now let’s break out the post-its and get this Agile party started!

(The team cheers and starts brainstorming user stories on the whiteboard as upbeat music plays. Fade out.)

Related Questions

What does agile project management involve?

Agile project management involves breaking projects down into short “sprints”, and rapidly iterating based on feedback. It emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and delivering working software frequently. Agile teams self-organize to determine the best way to complete work, rather than following a rigid top-down plan.

What are the 6 steps in agile project management?

While agile processes vary, common steps include:
1. Project planning
2. Sprint planning
3. Daily stand-up meetings
4. Development work
5. Sprint review
6. Sprint retrospective
Teams repeat steps 2-6 in short cycles until the project is complete, adapting their process as they go.

What is an example of agile project management?

Imagine a team creating a new mobile app. Rather than spending months planning and building the entire app in one go, they work in 2-week sprints. Every two weeks, they deliver working features, gather user feedback, and adjust priorities for the next sprint. By release, they’ve incorporated real user input to build an app that matches exactly what customers want.

Is Agile the same as PMP?

No, Agile and PMP (Project Management Professional) are distinct. PMP is a certification validating proficiency in traditional “waterfall” project management. Agile is a different, more flexible methodology focused on iterative delivery. Many concepts are shared, but Agile has its own frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. Agile’s principles can be applied with or without formal PMP training.

References and Editorial Perspectives

Schwaber, K. (2005). Agile Project Management. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, null, 277 – 277. https://doi.org/10.1007/11499053_47

Summary of this study

This paper by Ken Schwaber, one of the creators of the Scrum framework, discusses the significant shift that occurs in both project teams and organizations when adopting Agile project management. Schwaber shares insights on overcoming challenges like waterfall thinking and command-and-control management, and provides a framework for the new role of the project manager in an Agile context.

Editor perspectives

As a workflow automation platform, we at Tallyfy find Schwaber’s insights highly relevant for organizations looking to adopt Agile practices. The cultural and mindset shifts he describes are critical for successfully implementing Agile project management and realizing its benefits of increased agility and adaptability.


Conforto, E., C., Salum, F., A., Amaral, D., C., Silva, S., L., d., & Almeida, L., F., M., d. (2014). Can Agile Project Management Be Adopted by Industries Other Than Software Development?. Project Management Journal, 45, 21 – 34. https://doi.org/10.1002/pmj.21410

Summary of this study

This research paper explores the potential for Agile project management practices to be adopted outside of software development. Through a survey of 19 companies across various industries, the authors find that these organizations are struggling with their current project management practices. However, the presence of certain enablers indicates opportunities to adapt Agile practices for non-software contexts.

Editor perspectives

At Tallyfy, we believe that the principles and practices of Agile project management have broad applicability beyond software development. This study provides encouraging evidence that industries facing project challenges can benefit from adopting Agile practices, and we’re excited to see further research on developing “hybrid” Agile models tailored to different contexts.


Gonzalez, W. (2014). Applying Agile Project Management to Predevelopment Stages of Innovation. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 11, 1450020 – 1450020. https://doi.org/10.1142/s0219877014500205

Summary of this study

This paper examines how Agile project management can be applied to the early, predevelopment stages of innovation. The author introduces a theoretical model combining concepts from Agile and management innovation, addressing a gap in the literature on managing the “fuzzy front end” of innovation projects.

Editor perspectives

Innovation is a key driver of competitive advantage, but the early stages can be chaotic and difficult to manage. As a company focused on workflow management, Tallyfy is very interested in how Agile practices can bring structure and flexibility to the innovation process. This theoretical model provides a valuable starting point for organizations looking to apply Agile to their innovation efforts.


Conforto, E., C., Amaral, D., C., Silva, S., L., d., Felippo, A., D., & Kamikawachi, D., S., L. (2016). The Agility Construct on Project Management Theory. International Journal of Project Management, 34, 660 – 674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijproman.2016.01.007

Summary of this study

This paper aims to clarify the concept of agility within project management theory. Through a systematic literature review and empirical validation, the authors define agility as a team performance construct dependent on organizational, team, and project factors. They identify two key factors of agility: rapid project planning change and active customer involvement.

Editor perspectives

At Tallyfy, we appreciate this study’s rigorous approach to defining and measuring agility. By treating agility as a performance outcome rather than just a set of practices, it provides a useful framework for organizations to assess and improve their agility. The emphasis on customer involvement also aligns well with our philosophy of putting the end user at the center of workflow design and management.


Loiro, C., Castro, H., Ávila, P., Cruz-Cunha, M., M., Putnik, G., D., & Ferreira, L. (2019). Agile Project Management: A Communicational Workflow Proposal. Procedia Computer Science, 164, 485 – 490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2019.12.210

Summary of this study

This paper proposes an Agile project management team structure and communication workflow for a manufacturing context. The model includes roles such as product owner and team leader, and defines a workflow covering requirements analysis, planning, and design. The authors describe an early-stage implementation of the model in a lighting manufacturing company.

Editor perspectives

Effective communication is essential for any successful project, but especially so in an Agile context. As a workflow management platform, Tallyfy is always looking for best practices and case studies on how to optimize communication and collaboration. This paper’s proposed team structure and workflow provides a helpful template that could be adapted to many different industries and project types.


Glossary of terms

Agile project management

An iterative and incremental approach to managing projects that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and responsiveness to change. Agile methodologies prioritize delivering working products or features in short cycles, and actively involve customers throughout the development process.

Scrum

A popular Agile framework originally designed for software development, but increasingly adopted in other fields. Scrum organizes work into short “sprints,” with a focus on delivering a potentially shippable product increment at the end of each sprint. Key Scrum roles include the product owner, Scrum master, and development team.

Kanban

Another Agile methodology that emphasizes visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and optimizing flow. Kanban teams use boards to represent their workflow, with work items moving through defined stages such as “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” Kanban provides flexibility to adapt to changing priorities.

Agile manifesto

A 2001 proclamation by leading software developers that articulated the core values and principles of Agile software development. The manifesto prioritizes individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. It has heavily influenced the spread of Agile thinking in project management.

Minimum viable product (MVP)

A core concept in Agile development referring to a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers, who can then provide feedback for future development. Building an MVP allows Agile teams to test their assumptions and iterate based on real user input, rather than investing heavily in a complete product that may not meet customer needs.

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About the author - Amit Kothari

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