Gain Agile’s Benefits without Losing Control of Your Project

Companies that want to use an Agile framework sometimes have difficulty applying Agile’s concepts and vocabulary to every facet of their projects. They may find it cumbersome or disruptive to transition between the daily update schedules often used as part of Agile and the longer time windows more common in other approaches, for example. Some teams run into problems trying to reconcile the distinctions between story points and duration, and how the data behind those terms should be used to inform the project’s master timeline.

Agile

With Agile, there’s a potential your team could lose sight of progress on important tasks unless they’re diligent about maintaining control over the project schedule. They’re likely to encounter problems tracking sprints and other status markers, which may lead to last-minute delays or other timing concerns. Without a strong project management methodology to act as a guide, your team could quickly give up its cohesiveness as time, energy, and other resources are spent evaluating forward movement. You need the right tools at hand if you want to understand how progress is tracking.

How can you introduce Agile and take advantage of what it does well, while still maintaining control over your project? Consider where you may need to accommodate the concepts of Agile and tweak your approach so your team can continue to move forward on schedule.

Will your team need to reconcile different update timeframes?

The frequent updates that are part of Agile can be very helpful for the disciplines that use them, but difficult for other functional groups to leverage. Knowing the project’s scope and complexity, you’ll want to work with each sub-team to identify the status timeframes that will be most effective for their particular situations. The more robust project management methodologies are flexible enough to support whichever schedule—or combination of schedules—suits your needs best.

Do you have the expertise in-house to translate between story points and duration?

Whether you’re in the planning phase or dynamically updating a project schedule mid-stream, you’ll want to understand how story points correlate to task durations. You’ll then need to make the necessary calculations as progress information comes in from your team to ensure the master timeline continues to be accurate and complete.

Are you prepared to incorporate sprints into your project timeline?

The concept of a sprint may not be familiar to everyone on your project team, but even those who won’t be use sprints should understand how they work so they can communicate effectively with the rest of the group. Plan to provide training for the entire team that covers the principles of your methodology, along with how Agile will be incorporated at each step. This ensures everyone is working from the same playbook.

Does your leadership team support the concept of dedicated resources?

Agile often relies on the availability of dedicated resources, but that idea might create pushback from executes who are unfamiliar with the approach. If part of your team wants to use Agile, it’s important to have a strategy to work through dedicated resource issues, effectively communicate needs and limitations, answer any questions the senior staff may have about your requirements and how they relate to the project’s planned progress, and resolve potential conflicts.

It may be difficult to apply Agile to every aspect of an initiative, but even though some task sequences aren’t well suited to an Agile framework, your project doesn’t need to be broken into disparate chunks to keep everything on track. With the right project management strategy, it’s possible to incorporate Agile and gain its benefits without giving up control over your timeline or resources.

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