What is the Role of Project Management in Agile Software Development?

Mar 06, 2022
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Agile project management describes an iterative approach that targets project management in a given setup. Usually, Agile project management focuses on subdividing large projects into smaller and more manageable tasks. These tasks are completed in some sort of short iterations that cover the entire project life cycle. 

If your team takes advantage of agile methodology, it will have higher chances of finishing the work faster, optimizing the workflow, and adapting to ever-changing project requirements. 

Agile project management enables your team to re-evaluate every single task it is undertaking. The Agile project management also lets the team members adjust in increments to keep up with the shifting customer landscape. 

At first, Agile project management may seem like a complex, changing, or difficult to manage system. In reality, this system is easy to handle and use. Before you realize it you will be doing numerous things that it requires you to do. Read on to understand the purpose of project management in Agile software development.

What is the Role of Project Management in Agile Software Development?

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Agile Software Development in Perspective

Agile software development is simply known as Agile. It is a software development methodology designed to apply a level of pragmatism and anticipate the need for flexibility when delivering the finished products. The Agile methodology for developing software needs a cultural shift in most companies. This is because it focuses mainly on the clean delivery of parts and pieces of the software itself but not the entire app. 

Many benefits come with Agile software development. Top among these benefits is the software's ability to enable teams to deliver business values in an evolving landscape. Another benefit entails Agile's collaborative culture to improve efficiency among the teams that work together in a given organization. 

Most significantly, Agile software development helps companies feel confident when releasing their high-quality products. The software enables such companies to perform some tests,  make necessary changes, or alert team members to any potential problem during the development process. 

Agile software development has emerged as a top preferred development methodology across many companies after surpassing the waterfall model. However, Agile is at a higher risk of being consumed or eclipsed by the increasing popularity of DevOps

Regardless of this stiff competition, Agile is reputed for its ability to promote disciplined software development project management processes. Most of these processes are tailored towards encouraging frequent inspection, adaptation, teamwork, accountability, and self-organization. 

The Four Main Values of Agile Software Development

Sometimes back a group of software development professionals came together to create the Agile Manifesto. This lightweight software development idea outlines Agile’s four core values than include:

1. Importance of Individual Interactions 

With this core value, the Agile software development manifesto highlights the significant aspect of individual interactions in comparison to the process and tools. This is attributed to the fact that the human element and contribution will still play a significant role in project management regardless of how sophisticated technology gets. 

Human presence remains crucial in all matters pertaining to software development and affiliated projects. Therefore, relying too heavily on tools and processes may cause an inability to quickly adapt to ever-changing circumstances.   

2. The Need to Focus on Working Software

Before the Agile software development process came into existence, a lot of time was used up on documenting the product. This is attributed to lengthy document requirements that caused long delays during the development process. 

Even though Agile software development does not get rid of the need for documentation entirely, it helps streamline it to provide developers with relevant information. Currently, the Agile manifesto is continuously placing value on the documentation process and the working software. This higher value is all about providing developers with exactly what they deserve to make their job easy and timeless.

3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiations

The main task of the Agile software development manifesto is to focus primarily on collaboration between the clients/customers and project managers. The software places more emphasis on this type of collaboration rather than focusing on negotiations between customers and project managers. It further helps these two parties work out proper details of product delivery. 

Project managers collaborating with customers means inclusivity of the customers throughout the whole software development process. This inclusion makes it easier for team members to meet the requirements of their customers at the right time. 

For instance, in Agile software development, your customers may be included at different stages and intervals to witness the production demos. The customers may also be present to interact with the developers on a daily basis, not to mention attending crucial meetings and making sure that the products meet all the requirements.

4. Respond to Change

A focus on responding to change rather than following a plan is one of the most significant departures from the traditional project management processes. Initially, a traditional software development process was adopted to help avoid change. This type of avoidance was considered an unnecessary expense. 

Luckily, Agile software development came to eliminate the idea of avoiding change due to higher expenses. The short iterations used in the Agile software development cycle make changes easy by helping a team of developers modify the process to fit their needs. 

In general, the Agile software development process is based on the aspect of changing features in a product. Simply put, Agile gives a quick and easy way to provide additional value and improve the product. Each sprint used during the software development gives opportunities for review and course correction.  

The 12 Principles of Agile Software Development

Even though the Agile software development methodologies are incremental and iterative in nature, they are also diverse and unique. However, the following 12 Principles of Agile are available to guide your product development and decision:

1. Prioritization of customer satisfaction through fast and uninterrupted valuable software delivery.

2. Embrace changing requirements even in late development, Bear in mind that Agile software development processes harness change to give customers a competitive advantage

3. Deliver projects timely and frequently. Your delivery should be done in a couple of weeks or months but a shorter timescale is the most preferred.

4. Coordination teams should work hand in hand daily and throughout the software development project.

5. Build projects that revolve around motivated people. Provide them a conducive environment and support they deserve while entrusting them with the task at hand.

6. Maintain face-to-face conversation given that this is the most efficient way and effective method to convey vital information to and within various teams.

7. The final product should be the primary measure of software development progress.

8. Agile software development processes should aim at promoting sustainable development. In this case, every stakeholder should strive to maintain a constant speed indefinitely.

9. Uninterrupted attention to technical excellence with good design should enhance agility.

10. Simplicity or the ability to maximize the amount of available work is essential.

11. The best architecture, top requirements, or design should come from self-organizing teams.

12. The team should reflect on how to be effective and efficient by tuning and adjusting its behavior accordingly and at regular intervals. 

The Software Development Cycle-Agile

The Agile software development cycle is broken down into six major steps. 

They include:

1. Concept

With this initial step, the concept, you may cover the identification of available business opportunities in every potential project. The concept also enables you to estimate the time and work required to finish the project. Once you have this information at the back of your mind, you can use it to discern and prioritize projects according to their worthiness. Your discernment and prioritization of these projects should be based on economic and technical feasibility. 

2. Inception

For the second step, which is inception, you need to identify team members. This is the step where the project funding need is established in addition to discussing initial requirements with the customers. The timeline to outline various responsibilities of team members needed should be created. This timeline should clearly define the completion of the project for each sprint. In this regard, a sprint stands for a set period during which tasks have to be completed and ready for review

3.Iteration/construction

In the third step (iteration/construction), your team starts to create working software based on the needs and continuous feedback of customers. Remember, the Agile software development cycle uses iterations, incremental or single development cycles to build upon each other until the whole project comes to a completion. 

Each interaction (incremental) can last between two and four weeks. So, a set of completion dates must be observed all the time to ensure that a working product is launched at the end of every interaction. Multiple iterations can also occur throughout the software development cycle with each possessing its own workflow. An iteration flow may consist of requirements, definition, software development-based requirements, quality assurance testing, work product delivery, and integration, and collecting stakeholder and customer feedback.

4. Release

The fourth step is the release and it involves the final product quality assurance testing. The release also entails resolution of any defects left, finalization of the user documentation and entire system, and release of the final interaction/construction into production.

5. Production

The fifth step, production, comes after the release. This step focuses on the available support that is considered necessary to ensure proper maintenance of the software. In this step, your software development team keeps the software running smoothly. At the same time, the team teaches users how the software works. However, the production continues throughout until the product reaches retirement or support ends.

6. Retirement

The retirement or sixth step incorporates the end-of-life activities such as final migration and notification customers. The system release is also removed from production when the system needs replacement by a new release. Apart from that, this system is taken out of the system when it becomes unnecessary, goes against the business model, or becomes outdated. 

Different features are included in the product backlog during the Agile software development cycle. But the whole procedure should involve repetition of each step until all items in the backlog have been satisfied. The repetition makes the Agile cycle to be more of a loop rather than a linear software development process.

Types of Agile Software Development Methodologies

The main idea behind the Agile methodology is to adapt and embrace the change while delivering the most appropriate software. Each method differs from others in terms of how it defines different steps of software development. 

Examples of these methods include:

Agile software development has up to six steps that include:

  • Project planning

  • Product roadmap creation

  • Release planning

  • Sprint planning

  • Daily stand-ups

  • Sprint review and retrospective

There are also Agile team roles you need to know. This is attributed to the fact that different Agile methodologies need specific team roles to strictly adhere to a certain framework. Here are a handful of common Agiles roles that you may assign your software development team:

  1. Scrum master-To ensure each sprint is on track to help resolve challenges or issues that may arise.

  2. Project owner-The main role of the project owner is to explain and implement the goals of the sprint, prioritize and manage the team backlog, and act as the voice of internal stakeholders.

  3. Team members-Those who are assigned with the task of executing the work in every sprint.

  4. Stakeholders-As an informal team role, stakeholders are updated on the sprint and product goal. They can also review or approve work (during a sprint) and provide feedback.

Each Agile software development methodology has a unique list of team members and their roles. Even though their titles may change at times, there are some universal role characteristics that your Agile team structures need. These structures consist of T-shaped, cross-functional, adaptable, curious, entrepreneurial, team-oriented, and a team committed to excellence. 

Final Thought

Agile software is increasingly growing in popularity across several modern-day workplaces. The software provides an effective means to accomplish complex tasks that make companies keep up with the ever-changing world. This software thrives best in adaptive cultures, especially where everyone is willing to embrace new changes in their workplaces. Visit ModernAnalyst.com to learn more about Agile software development project management. 


Jessica LiAuthor: Jessica Li, Senior Content Executive 

Jessica studied Business at the University of Texas. After working at a major tech firm for almost 7 years, she recently had a career change from the fast-paced environment to one of her passions, writing. She is now a senior content executive at Broadly, and runs several art and yoga blogs. In her spare time she likes to try new restaurants, travel and do pottery. 

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