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Embracing the Importance of Agility at Work


Adjusting to changes in projects shouldn’t be a chore and it shouldn’t cause problems for everyone involved. Similarly, no change should be a huge surprise to everyone on a project. Working on a project, and anything you’re currently spending time on, with an agile approach can ensure issues are kept to a minimum.

An agile approach to project management will help you take on new approaches, and essentially be ready to move the goalposts when necessary.

Many organizations today are adopting this method, especially in the software development marketplace and technology which moves so quickly that it’s almost impossible to stick to rigid plans. For example, there is a project that aims to develop a software for a manufacturing system. It gets planned with best intentions to work on one particular platform. But suddenly that platform changes while the project is still in its development phase. Such switch can potentially cause problems with the overall project, if not handled correctly.

Trying to keep projects on track by restricting the chance of change and resisting it as much as possible simply doesn’t work these days, you have to be ready to adapt.

Do it from the Outset

The fact that things change so often makes many people wonder why an agile approach to everything isn’t just the norm. Heraclitus said way back that:

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.

Indeed, it’s a universal law that things just keep moving, so why fight against it?

It is important that you accept that your project can move in all directions. It means that people can be late, can be early or can mess things up from time to time. Accepting all these scenarios will probably make the whole process a lot easier. Expecting problems in advance and the “thing” that needs to be done before the other “thing” can happen, and will probably result in late outcome means it won’t be a shock.

Just accept it and work your way around it. Adjustment is necessary and so is change in course of action. But always maintain the end goal in mind.

It Helps Customers

Whatever you’re doing, it probably involves a customer of some kind. He or she could be a customer of the company or it could be another department. Either way, the agile approach also suggests that they should be part of the process from the start.

Obviously, this is a worry. Some project managers would like to have complete control over a new development and then announce its completion together with a huge fanfare. I’ve seen this happen a lot and there has been an audible sigh from the assembled crowd when they see the fruits of the team’s labor and realize it doesn’t align with their expectations.

Far better to include them from the start.

From experience, I know this to be true. A few years ago I wrote the specification for a new computer system to handle the recruitment of graduates at a large university. The specification took two months and hours of interviews between staff and managers.

At the end of it, the specification was distributed for all to see, it was like a small novel in size and went into a lot of detail about how the system should look and operate.

Then we started work on it.

We took an agile approach, involving everyone in the development with constant feedback from the customer, end users (in this case students) and the programming team. We used an online collaboration tool (unfortunately ProProfs Project wasn’t around then!) and everything went fairly smoothly.

At the end of the project, we had a finished product that everyone was happy with and nobody was surprised by.

Interestingly, it was absolutely nothing like the original specification. My original document seemed to be specifying something completely different altogether. Didn’t matter though, the system worked.

The Psychological Benefits

Of course, productivity is the real winner here. However, it is important to mitigate any surprises. This sure-fire way will ensure that no productivity is lost to re-designing the entire process simply because we didn’t know in a timely manner that something needed to change.

It’s also a massive stress reliever. Not having to worry if someone will or won’t like the changes you’re making after you’ve made them can ease the worry of an already overburdened project manager.

Technology, Again!

Obviously keeping people informed is the key and so is having a cloud-based system in place. Both will enable you to inform and update other members working on the project constantly.

There are so many systems available these days and many are developed for specific needs, tasks and situations so it’s best you search them out yourself. However, we’d obviously push ProProfs Project as a great all-arounder for keeping your projects on track.

Updating files, delegating tasks and keeping people up to date on progress is a breeze with its simple task layout and communication options.

Don’t take our word for it though, sign up for its free trial here!

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.