What is Agile Project Management? - Scrum & Methodology

Instructor: Stephen Meyer

Stephen has worked as a Project Manager and is PMP certified, as well as certified by the Scrum Alliance.

Traditional project management approaches often prove insufficient for software development. The Agile approach offers a different way of thinking and different methodologies to implement. Learn about Agile project management and Scrum methodology.

Agile Approach

Randall has been working in project management for years in various industries. He has recently transitioned into technology, specifically software development. Until this point, he has used a traditional project methodology that uses a sequential process and relies heavily on documentation. Time and budget constraints have always been an issue, but he has had few alternatives. However, in moving to technology, Randall has started to learn about Agile and its unique approach to projects. He looks to understand it more and use it.

Agile is an approach to projects that attempts to provide an alternative to traditional methodologies. It focuses on breaking down the project work and timeline into more manageable pieces where tangible results are produced more frequently. In doing this, Agile recognizes constraints on projects and enables results to be produced until the budget is depleted, the time limit is reached, or necessary items are complete.

In any project, there are limitations due to time, cost, and/or scope. Traditional methodologies react once these constraints are eventually felt. Agile attempts to proactively address them. This is done in the Agile Manifesto, which is a statement of values written by the founders of Agile that details different competing aspects of projects and identifies which are more valuable. This includes:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Along with the statements in the Manifesto is an acknowledgment that each aspect is valuable, but Agile values the items on the left more, placing an emphasis on the product and the people. Agile recognizes that the purpose of the project is to create a product that is valuable to the customer and that it can be done in a way that benefits the people involved.

Specifically, Agile values aspects like individuals, interactions and customer collaboration that focus on the people. It also values working software and responding to change that focus on the product. Aspects like processes, tools, comprehensive documentation, contract negotiation, and following a plan are process-oriented.

Scrum Process

While Agile values product and people over process, it does not mean that a process is not used at all. The process, or methodology, for Agile can vary. This is because Agile is only an approach to projects, not a methodology. Rather, there are various methodologies that can be used to implement Agile. As Randall considers using Agile, he starts with Scrum.

Scrum is the most common methodology used to implement Agile. Its process can best be defined in the context of Agile values. The first involves the product. The Scrum approach to the product is incremental and iterative. It is incremental by breaking project work down into specific functionality for the desired user, known as user stories. It is iterative by completing user stories in repeated intervals known as sprints. This allows aspects of the product to be used and for feedback to be received.

The Scrum approach to people involves a project team that is cross-functional and self-organizing. A cross-functional team each individual contributes to the project work, though there are three specific roles in the project team. Each of these is meant to support and work with the others. The first role is the Product Owner who is the key stakeholder decision-maker on user stories and project requirements. The second is the development team who develops and tests the user stories. The third is the Scrum Master who facilitates communication and manages the Agile process.

Scrum Methodology

The last consideration for Randall as he looks to implement Agile using Scrum is the specific methodology of Scrum. He understands the things that Agile values and how the Scrum process supports these. He now needs to move to lower-level detail around how Scrum is used. The best way for him to do this is to look at how a sprint, the main Scrum cycle, progresses.

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