Agile project management. It’s kind of got a ring to it, doesn’t it? When things change all the time and you don’t have any control over it, being agile seems like the only way to manage and make it through the day with your sanity intact. Well, more or less intact.
And yet, while I hear it all the time, agile project management is more than being agile. It’s actually a collection of techniques and tools that set you up for agility at the same time that you’re delivering your project on time, in budget, all the while recognizing— and even expecting—that things are going to change.
Because, let’s face it, if you’re on a project where nothing ever changes, you’re on a really boring project. Maybe even one that doesn’t actually matter to anyone.
Agile was designed by software engineers. My team and I have adapted it for the instructional design world. It’s called LLAMA—the Lot Like Agile Management Approach.
How can you tell when a team’s getting it right? High-performing agile teams do six things really well.
1. They have some specific techniques for defining scope. Working with the project sponsor and subject matter experts, they create learner personas and really understand the learners’ motivations and fears.
2. They then take scope definition to the next level, using learner stories and action mapping to make sure that the team and the business share a common definition of project scope. (Magic happens here!) Then, the agile team allows that scope definition to shift as needed over the course of the project to meet evolving organizational needs. Because we know things are going to change.
4. They plan and manage that work using visual tools. At no point is the project’s status a mystery.
5. The big one—the one most people see and talk about: Agile teams develop and release in iterations. An agile team works both iteratively and incrementally throughout the project, constantly fine-tuning and improving not only the deliverables but also the understanding of the underlying problem being solved.
6. And lastly, an agile team reflects often, not just gathering feedback on the product, but the work process itself. The team is constantly learning and getting better.
The next time someone tells you about their agile project management, listen carefully for these hallmarks of a successful team and see how they’re applying these methods in their project work.
Take a deeper dive with Megan on this topic at her pre-conference workshop, Agile Project Management for eLearning, at DevLearn 2016 Conference & Expo on Tuesday, November 15, in Las Vegas. Click here to learn more about DevLearn!