What do the BBC, Nokia and Xerox’s IT all have in common? Well, besides offering excellent services and products, they are all, in some form, built using Agile development. From the BBC iPlayer to mobile phone software, Agile development has underpinned many of the world’s most popular and well-known apps and tools.
If you want to access the potential successes that Agile promises, you need to understand the factors that make such projects work well – and avoid the pitfalls. And, a crucial part of success with Agile is the tools you use in order to support your projects.
Transparency is at the heart of Agile development – both with the customer as well as within the team and between members. For this reason, most Agile projects are supported by daily stand-up meetings to understand project progress and to allow a space for individuals to air issues. Your project management software should reflect this emphasis on transparency too. It should let you:
- View who is involved in different stages of product development
- View progress towards goals
- Understand what tasks individuals are charged with
By emphasising transparency, you ensure no one has any surprises and defuse misunderstandings before they expand into project-threatening problems.
Agile teams need to be able to respond to requests to change a project or a piece of software fast. Sticking to a long-term plan simply because it’s the plan is anathema to Agile project management. You need to be prepared to change task lists fast and be prepared for disruption to your plans. To support this, your project management software needs to let you:
- Rapidly add sprints
- Incorporate resources to different projects
- Assign new tasks to specific team members
By facilitating flexibility, you ensure your team can react fast to any change requests with minimal disruption.
For Agile to work successfully, teams need to be able to collaborate effectively on projects – sharing skills, information and knowledge. There is no room for a strict division of labour, where one person simply turns up to do their piece of work then leaves the office. Instead, successful Agile projects depend on team members supporting one another and solving problems collaboratively. To make sure this happens, your Agile project management software should allow you to:
- View what others are doing
- Reassign tasks as and when it is necessary
- Reassign resources to different parts of the project
- Integrate with Waterfall style planning
A collaborative environment will allow colleagues to spark new ideas and share inspiration.
4. Easy reporting
A major characteristic of Agile projects is that there’s a focus on providing regular feedback to the client. This ensures they understand how the project is progressing and avoids any nasty surprises. This also supports the iterative nature of Agile projects, meaning feedback can be provided regularly to the client. So, choose a project management tool which allows you to do this:
- Make it easy to report on high-level progress
- Show the total number of completed tasks and sprints
Rapid reporting means the client is able to understand project development and allows them to make informed executive decisions.
Finally, a successful Agile project depends on easy communication between team members. Whether it’s reassigning tasks, discussing progress or making decisions about the direction of a project, open communication is key.
- Make it easy to create new features and fill in detail so everyone understands what’s going on
- Offer an interactive board where team members can see what others are doing
- Raise problems by tagging tasks with issues
A project management tool needs to facilitate communication by making it easy for individuals to see who’s doing what and makes it easy to raise questions and queries.
Choose the tool that fits around you
Agile offers a powerful method for managing successful projects and, when done right, can deliver a final product which is much closer to what the customer really wants. However, they need to be managed in the right way, otherwise, you run the risk of having a project that goes way over budget and deadline. The PS+ Agile add-in for Project Online is specifically designed to support Agile projects and supports the unique way of working that Agile demands.
PS+ Agile Add-In for Microsoft Project Online and SharePoint allows you to manage your work using tools you are familiar with and a process you know. Not just limited to Agile, PS+ allows you to uniquely combine both Waterfall and Agile Techniques together.
Break down sprints from Project Online into features and tasks in the Agile Planning Add-In. Use the task planning board to assign and progress tasks – all with a familiar drag and drop interface. Link tasks to issues and bugs and feed progress directly back to Project Online. Standard reports are provided such as burndown and Bugs. Watch our video demonstration for PS+ Agile solution.
Sign up for your free trial today, to discover how PS+ can work for you and your business.