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Agile and Scrum as Adaptive Project Management

Adaptive project management origins reach back to the early 1900s with Frederick Taylor’s scientific management ideas. The concept of an iterative decision-making process, with ongoing feedback throughout the process or project, allowed for a reduction in uncertainty in a rapidly changing environment. So while the term Agile and Agile methodology wasn’t recognized or referred to until the 1990s, Agile concepts have been a part of project management for over a century at some level.

“Agile is a group of product and service development techniques using an interative (repeating) and incremental approach in which solutions are delivered in stages. Agile promotes adaptive planning to develop a product in iterations, thereby lending a greater flexibility to change during the development process while reducing the extent of long-term planning.”1 While project managers within the software development realm are familiar with Agile methods (the most common being Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, Test-Driven Development, Dynamic Systems Development Methods and Crystal), project managers in other arenas have been slow to embrace this foundational shift in methodology from the more familiar and traditional Waterfall methods.

Modern technology, however, is changing customer expectations in a wide variety of industries and needs to be a primary concern before brushing off the idea of implementing Agile principles and processes into your PM requirements. Customers are becoming more expectant of short deadlines, constant updates, giving feedback, seeing early value features, and the ability to make changes during the process. Traditional Waterfall is still a reliable and strong methodology for projects where there is little risk of the customer wanting to make modifications or of significant changes in the market occurring, but PMPs with strong familiarity in the alternative perspective that Agile offers may want to apply all or some of the principles in more volatile projects moving forward.

One of the more adaptable Agile methodologies is Scrum. Scrum starts from a viewpoint of business-value prioritization where some form of “shippable” product or service can be provided to the customer early on. This allows for early and frequent feedback, making sure that the Sprint Team is creating a final complete product that falls in line with exactly what the client wants. Let’s be honest; sometimes the customer has difficulty explaining what they want, or providing the level of detail needed to make sure the development team has clear direction. By working in sprints (time-boxed iterative sessions where prioritized product features/tasks are worked on and then presented to the customer), communication is frequent, feedback is useful early on in making adjustments, and the customer sees continuous progress.

On the team development side, scrum strongly encourages colocation of all team members working together so that as much as possible communication is face-to-face and frequent. Using a Scrumboard, all members know what everyone is working on at any given time and the progress the team as a whole is making. Daily stand-up meetings also provide both accountability and reporting of any challenges so that the Scrum Master can get with the team member(s) and help remove any roadblocks causing those challenges.

SCRUMstudy is the global accreditation body for Scrum and Agile certifications. It has authored the SBOK™ Guide as a comprehensive guide to deliver successful projects using Scrum. SCRUMstudy works through its large global partner network of Authorized Training Providers (A.T.P.s) to deliver trainings and certifications. Important certifications provided by SCRUMstudy include Scrum Fundamentals Certified(SFC™), Scrum Developer Certifed (SDC™), Scrum Master Certified (SMC™), Agile Expert Certified (AEC™), Scrum Product Owner Certified (SPOC™) and Expert Scrum Master Certified (ESMC™). Gazave & Associates is proud to work with SCRUMstudy as an Authorized Training Provider. For access to a FREE course and certification exam on Scrum Fundamentals (worth 10 PMI Approved PDUs), contact us via our website or email Charlene@gazaveandassociates.com.

1Scrumstudy SAMC Course Workbook©2016