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4 Ways to Introduce Agile Concepts to Your Project

Agile project management has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It’s a powerful solution that offers flexibility, agility and runs “leaner and meaner”. However, most projects operate on the age-old waterfall management principle. Is there any way that you can bring Agile project management concepts into your existing traditional-style project? Actually, you can do several things.
Applied to Short-Term Aspects
Every project, no matter its ultimate goal, is a combination of both short and long-term aspects. For instance, you might be engaged in a two-year project designed to ultimately culminate in higher product quality. However, to reach that level of quality, you’ll need to go through quite a few short-term steps. You can apply Agile techniques to those short-term aspects, while leaving waterfall as the overriding management technique for the long-term project itself. Agile isn’t designed for long-term use – it’s a short-term only kind of thing anyway.

Institute Transparency
One of the most important fulcrums underpinning Agile methodology is a dedication to transparency throughout the project. Agile teams are tight-knit, and in order to work together effectively, there has to be a significant level of trust. That’s only gained with transparency at all levels of the project (including project management and even stakeholders). Institute transparency throughout your project and you’ll be one step closer to realizing the benefits offered by Agile (and this single step might be the only one needed depending on the scope of your project).
Feedback Matters
In waterfall project management, real feedback is a rarity, at least until the final review after project completion. However, Agile relies on ongoing, honest, direct feedback. Moreover, that feedback isn’t always a one-way thing, flowing from you down to your team members. Rather, it’s an integrated system in which everyone involved is able to provide vital, honest feedback about pretty much anything that affects them. By encouraging feedback (in the appropriate setting), you foster trust and understanding between your team members, but can also uncover hidden risks and threats to your project that might have gone unnoticed.
Be Agile
Perhaps the most important tip for implementing any Agile concepts within your overall project is that you and your team need to be agile. That is, you need to be able to move quickly from requirements to design, back to requirements, then to implementation, back to design and so forth. The name “Agile” is incredibly descriptive of the processes at work here, and in order to be used effectively, you need to be willing and able to break out of the mold of waterfall management when necessary (and when possible).
Agile project management is effective, provides greater interactivity and higher quality results, but is not applicable in all situations. However, almost any waterfall-based project can benefit from the integration of Agile techniques and principles within its various processes and steps to milestone completion. Bear the differences between these two philosophies in mind, and you’ll find myriad ways to combine the two.

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