The COVID-19 has caused many companies around the globe to rethink and adjust their working processes to consider disruptions to the lives of their employees, customers, and supply chains. Many of these companies have found it necessary to adapt to different methods of overall management and project management in particular.
Recently, True Digital Park and the Bluepik Group hosted a talk on the benefits of introducing the Agile style of management into a company’s work processes during the pandemic. The speaker was Mr. Phachara Arayakarnkul, the CEO of Bluebik Group. Bluebik Group specialises in providing business strategies, management solutions, and introducing innovations and new technologies to organisations.
The talk was enlightening to managers who had never heard of or implemented the Agile project management method into their enterprise. It offered some distinct advantages over and above common project management styles and techniques. The benefits were particularly relevant during these uncertain times due to the ongoing pandemic.
Companies in all industries have recognised the need to remain flexible and adapt to the unfolding pandemic situation on a weekly or daily basis. Managers are looking for any edge they can get in creating a leaner and more responsive form of both overall management and project management specifically. The Agile method compares favourably in providing a more responsive, flexible, yet thorough set of processes in completing a project focusing on the result, or the product.
We'd like to share some of the most important points raised during the talk and compare the Agile style of management to the more conventional Waterfall method of management.
The Waterfall project management method begins with the project being planned out in its entirety. Each task in the project is given a starting and completion date. The tasks are then undertaken and completed one after the other, like water descending a hillside from pool to pool.
This type of project management method ensured that every task was completed within an overall timeline. It was fine for predictable projects or projects that simply had to be repeated with the same result.
The problems with this type of project management were that the tasks were usually assigned to different teams, depending on their expertise. Any changes needed to the overall timeline usually meant starting the entire project over or adjusting each task’s timeline. Another problem was the lack of collaboration. Each team was involved in only their specific task and rarely communicated with other teams unless there was an issue.
The lack of an adequate level of communication between the teams assigned to each task also meant that managers often had to scramble to ensure that every team was aware of the need to make changes to the overall plan.
With the Agile Project Management Method, the teams working on the projects are chosen for their cross-functional abilities. Team members will understand all the tasks in a project and can work from task to task. The team members themselves are perfectly capable of micro-managing the project's tasks without the need for a manager to be looking over their shoulders constantly.
There is less overhead and drain on human resources because a single project doesn't require a number of teams to complete. There is better collaboration and communication because the team members are working together through all the tasks of the project.
And better communication means increased flexibility and adaptability as everyone knows the state of completion of the project and can make adjustments to the processes or timeline as needed.
The Agile project management method is based on the Scrum Framework and organised into a series of sprints. The term ‘scrum’ comes from the game of rugby and provides a perfect illustration of a team working together to advance a project toward a common goal.
The individual tasks are called 'sprints.' They each have a designated timeline that the team will have to beat successfully. The team collectively 'sprints' through each task to complete them within each timeframe. On the completion of each task, the team reviews the results of the tasks.
This sprint review ensures each task meets the company's standards and also determines whether the methods they used to execute the task could be improved. In this way, the sprint review serves as a method of quality control and a way to maintain the team's communication level.
The flexibility and adaptability advantage of the Agile project management method is within these sprint reviews. They serve as pivot points within a project’s overall timeline. If the company’s needs or situation changes within the scope of a particular project, these sprint reviews serve as the perfect place to implement a change in direction.
The value of the Agile project management method was observed and realised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations were having to spend countless amounts of money to slowly and expensively halt projects that were determined to longer be in the organisation’s best interests and either abandon them or change their focus and direction.
Had they implemented the Agile method at the time, they could have saved on human resources, money, and valuable time.