FURTHER DEMYSTIFICATION OF AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT: The agile project management methodology has many benefits, but those who've never used it can face some challenges upon implementation.

Author:Wakeel, Fatema El-

Agile project management is an iterative, adaptive approach that helps ensure the project delivers what the customer truly needs. In the May 2019 Tech Practices column, I discussed the main differences in methodology between agile project management and waterfall project management. The next step was to describe a practical case example, but before doing that, this month I'll first dive a little deeper into the agile methodology by answering some questions I received after the first column.

Agile works in a series of iterations and improvements known as sprints. In my view, based on my experiences working in different industries, using an agile methodology has a number of benefits. But there also are challenges--especially if someone isn't used to using it. Let's take a look at some of the questions I received.

How flexible is agile?

Agile is very flexible--I see it as a continuous improvement project management methodology. Agile adapts to business needs since it doesn't have a set-in-stone scope. The scope may change, while resources and time are fixed. The methodology allows you to quickly amend plans or shift directions and focus on a different solution if the business need changes while you're working on the project.

How important is the team in agile?

Agile focuses on the project team. The project requires collaboration and responsibility from the whole team. Success or failure of a project is attributable to the team as a whole.

Agile involves a team-centric culture. There is no project manager in agile--this role is split between the product owner and scrum master, with neither leading the team but rather focusing on the product and working with the team. The product owner focuses on ensuring that customer needs are met, while the scrum master has the responsibility of facilitating the team.

I've never used agile. How can I learn to use it?

Agile is a mind-set, and it takes time to change from the traditional waterfall project management to agile. The best way to learn it is by doing. Start using it and work your way through it. Find an agile coach or someone who uses agile and ask questions; that will help you learn and put theory into practice. Once you start, you'll see the challenges and opportunities of the methodology.

How do I convince my team to use agile in data analytics?

If possible, look into a way to deliver results as soon as possible and have quick wins. Start by rolling out test phases so stakeholders can begin to...

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