How Agile Project Management Builds Business Resilience
Agile project management and organizational resilience go hand-in-hand. Many will even argue that agility is a prerequisite for staying competitive in the modern business world.
Today’s economy is fast-paced, continually changing, and uncertain.
On top of that, many research firms forecast that we are on the verge of major technological disruptions. Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and other emerging technologies are about to transform everything from business models to customer sentiment to the very structure of the economy.
While no one knows exactly what the future may hold, most business leaders recognize that to succeed amid disruption, agile approaches are a must.
Let’s find out what agility means, why it is so necessary, and why agile project management is a good stepping stone to building organizational resilience.
What agile project management is—and what it isn’t
Agile project management isn’t a methodology, according to PMI.
Rather, it is an approach that can utilize several different methodologies.
Agile project management techniques focus on areas such as:
- Continuous and incremental change
- Ongoing collaboration with all stakeholders
- Letting user input drive design and development
- Focusing on functionality over static processes
These types of guiding principles stemmed from the Agile Manifesto, the original document that outlined this way of thinking. It was created by a group of software developers in 2001, and this approach quickly spread into a large number of other business areas beyond their field.
One reason it became so widespread is that it solved many of the problems associated with other types of project management, as we’ll see below.
Agile vs. waterfall vs. hybrid project management
Sequential project management may work in a stable, slow-moving economy.
In today’s fast-paced landscape, however, old methods of project management are simply too slow.
The waterfall approach, for instance, relies on plans that are long-term, detailed, and comprehensive.
Projects implemented using this approach would include phases such as:
- Assessments and requirements
- Ongoing maintenance
While this more “traditional” approach can be quite successful, it often underperforms when external conditions are changing rapidly.
Using the waterfall approach for software development, for example, can result in problems such as:
- Products and apps that are released too slowly
- Design features that are out of sync with users’ needs
- High production costs
- Delays, mistakes, and inefficiencies
This is not to say that waterfall or sequential project management approaches are obsolete.
Far from it – there are several benefits to the waterfall model, such as predictable budgeting, clear expectations, and more overall stability.
Advantages such as those have led some to take a hybrid approach to project management, which falls somewhere on the spectrum between plan-driven management and agile management.
Yet even the adoption of a hybrid approach demonstrates how crucial agile strategies are in the modern business world.
Why agile project management matters
Using flexible business processes that focus on responsiveness delivers a number of benefits, including:
- Faster and more cost-efficient project execution
- Better overall outcomes from business initiatives
- Projects that can quickly adapt to changing circumstances
- Organizational changes that proceed more smoothly
- Less resistance to change from employees
Ultimately, these types of effects can ripple out and positively impact the entire organization. For business leaders who want to steer their company towards an operating model that is more flexible, relevant, and resilient, agile project management is an excellent place to start.
Reputable research firms such as McKinsey argue that both agility and resilience will become necessary in the post-COVID next normal – and that resilience will actually be dependent on agility.
Agile project management: A stepping stone towards business agility
Project management is hard-coded into business – and since it is so prevalent, it is one of the best ways to begin boosting organizational agility and resilience.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when introducing agile project management into the business:
- Buy-in and acceptance are necessary for agile methodologies to take hold, so it is important to take a structured approach to adopting new business techniques
- Employee training may be needed to help employees learn agile processes and tools
- Having the right mindsets and culture are as important to agility as following the right business practices, so project managers and change advocates should be prepared to modify the corporate culture if needed
- When implementing an agile project management approach, therefore, it is a good idea to adhere to the principles of change management
- As with any other business project, evaluating performance is only possible with the right metrics and KPIs, which, in turn, depend on understanding one’s own level of agile maturity and setting the right goals
It’s unlikely that agile project management can completely reform an organization’s operations, but it can plant the seeds, light the way, and begin growth towards a business model that is more nimble, responsive, and resilient.