Skip to main content Skip to footer

What is Agile project management: when and how to use it

All of us at monday.com

    Agile project management can be a polarizing topic in professional circles.

    Some are firm believers in Agile, claiming it helps their teams conquer any amount of work faster, achieve continuous improvement, and exceed goals. Others complain that just because you adopt agile, doesn’t mean you have a solution that prevents oversights in the development process.

    In this guide to Agile project management, you’ll learn exactly what it is and how you could start adapting it appropriately for your organization.

    What exactly is Agile project management?

    Agile project management is an iterative approach to deliver a project throughout its life cycle. Iterative approaches are commonly used in software development projects because they promote speed and adaptability. The benefit of iteration is that you can problem solve and adjust as you go instead of following a linear path.

    The 4 values of Agile

    The Agile approach is founded on four foundational values that aim to solve the issue of product-market disconnects that plague companies globally:

    • Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    • Value 2: Working software
    • Value 3: Customer collaboration
    • Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

    The 12 Agile project management principles

    According to the Agile Manifesto, there are 12 main principles of Agile project management. We’ve gathered them here for you to keep in mind as an Agile project manager:

    1. Satisfy the customer. Everything you do should be geared towards your target market.
    2. Don’t fear change. Remain flexible.
    3. Deliver working versions frequently. For example, work on completing iterations rather than finished products.
    4. Bring business people and technical people together. A disconnect between departments leads to a disconnect between your products and your target customers.
    5. Motivate, trust, and support your team members. 
    6. Engage in face-to-face conversation. 
    7. Measure progress with working versions of the final product.
    8. Encourage sustainable development. Ongoing progress over the long term beats hackathons.
    9. Pay attention to technical excellence and good design. 
    10. Keep it simple. 
    11. Use self-organizing teams. Autonomy leads to more motivated and productive employees.
    12. Regularly reflect and review. You can’t learn or progress without evaluating your workflow.

    What is the difference between Agile and Waterfall?

    Agile methods are different from traditional project management because they prioritize feedback and learning, as well as flexibility and collaboration. Instead of a set process, they allow room for constant revisions and updated action items based on outcomes, customer feedback, and results. 

    Traditional or Waterfall approaches follow predictable stages. You start with the requirements gathering stage and keep going down until the project is over. In Agile, you instead cycle through these stages as you work on the project in smaller pieces called iterations or Agile sprints, where the focus is to deliver a single, working product increment at a time. P.S., we wrote all about Agile Sprints here.

    Waterfall vs. Agile

    (Image Source)

    Having problems signing up?
    Contact us, we're here, 24/7
    logo

    What is Agile project management best for?

    Agile project management gives teams better visibility into project performance, with frequent Scrum meetings and sprint reviews that provide increased transparency—so this method is a great fit for teams who want to better know how a project is progressing. The values of Agile also promote boosted productivity and collaboration. 

    To better understand when to use Agile project management, let’s take a look at the industries and types of projects that use Agile methodology. According to a Koblenz University study, it’s clear that Agile project management has a presence in more industries than software development. In today’s world, every business uses a system to track its progress and accomplish tasks—even if it’s not to produce a physical product.

    Agile use cases

    That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your project management method. In general, you want to use Agile for highly unpredictable projects that don’t need to follow a rigorous schedule or regulations.

    When you’re developing anything new from scratch or transitioning as a company, Agile project management methodology can work wonders. By shortening the work cycle, you can get to market faster while constantly adjusting the course to align with market changes.

    In an engineering or construction project where everything needs to happen at exactly the right time, full-blown Agile isn’t a great idea. The same goes for highly regulated industries where you need government sign-off before starting.

    Try monday.com

    What is the most popular Agile project management framework?

    Some of the top Agile frameworks are:

    • Kanban
    • Scrum
    • Extreme Programming
    • Lean
    • Hybrid

    According to the 2020 State of Agile report, Scrum ranks at the top.

    Most popular Agile frameworks in 2020
    (Image Source)

    Let’s explore Scrum and Kanban a bit more in-depth.

    What does Scrum in Agile mean?

    Scrum is an Agile framework used to manage product development and other knowledge work. Scrum is experimental in that it provides a means for teams to create a hypothesis of how they think something works, try it, reflect on the experience, and adjust accordingly.

    Larger project teams are broken into smaller Scrum teams that include a Product Owner — who represents the interests of the business — and a Scrum Master who works to minimize roadblocks that prevent work from getting done. These individual teams self-organize and work in a Scrum sprint that lasts one to four weeks. Instead of writing an in-depth project plan, the Scrum team reviews the “product backlog” before every sprint. The product backlog is a list of features the finished product needs.

    Scrum framework diagram
    (Image Source)

    Instead of prolonged tunnel vision, it only lasts as long as the sprint. After each sprint, a meeting is held with the goal of improving the strategy going forward. Read our guide on implementing Agile project management with Scrum to learn more.

    What is Kanban?

    The popular Kanban framework requires real-time communication of capacity and full transparency of work. Work items are represented visually on a Kanban board, allowing team members to see the state of every piece of work at any time. Unlike Scrum, there are no new team units or positions. Everyone keeps their roles, teams, and responsibilities.

    Instead of working in sprints, teams work together to improve the product continuously. You create a Kanban board that outlines a logical workflow for fixing issues or adding features. Everyone — regardless of rank — is involved in creating to-do items for the board. You then continually prioritize tasks and assign them to different teams or individuals.

    kanban project management

    Agile project management case study: Mortgage Center

    As we addressed earlier, there is a common misconception that Agile project management is only useful for software development, but that’s just no longer the case. A wide variety of companies and teams in a wide range of industries use it in 2021.

    That was the case of the 80-member team of the Mortgage Center in Michigan before they built their Agile workflow process in monday.com. Perhaps this photo better illustrates how they were working:

    Pre-monday.com Agile workflow

    The individual cards and physical whiteboard method became illegible and impossible to manage. monday.com Work OS gave them a centralized and automated platform where they could take this concept and transform it with easy-to-use and customizable templates to manage their whole Agile workflow to enable:

    • Clear ownership and accountability through color-coded shared Scrum boards
    • Significant time-savings in sprint planning meetings
    • Better communication outside of meetings
    • Remote work
    monday.com sprint planning template

    If you want the full story, you can watch this video where Diana Kosut, Scrum Master and Project Manager at Mortgage Center, breaks it all down.

    5 ways to become Agile

    Now that you know the baseline for what an Agile organization is, let’s address the core component you need to execute it—the right software. monday.com Work OS is an excellent choice that goes above and beyond a bare-bones, work software to give you the flexibility, customizability, and integrations you need to build your perfect Agile workflow from the ground up.

    Here are 5 ways to use monday.com to shift to become an Agile team.

    1. Integrate data from multiple apps and tools into one place

    With monday.com, you’ve got access to 40+ built-in integrations and our powerful automation builder. That can help you bridge the gap between different departments and teams that rely on various apps.

    For example, you can bring together the support team that uses Zendesk and the development team that relies on Jira. By eliminating that silo, your developers can spend more time on the features and bugs that your customers care about the most.

    monday.com also has a unique automation builder so you can eliminate unnecessary manual steps wherever possible, even with integrations — no need for anyone to interrupt their working day to grab hold of someone through Slack or email.

    2. Create a shared, real-time product roadmap

    monday.com also makes it easy to create and maintain an up-to-date product roadmap. Use and customize this template to start planning the future of your product.

    how to create a software product roadmap

    You can then connect items on the board to relevant sprint activity statuses. The roadmap will automatically reflect whether certain features are finished or not. That gives your customers and team members a good insight into the progress you’re making.

    3. Allow stakeholders to contribute directly to the product backlog

    A core Agile principle is to involve external stakeholders, like customers, in the process. With monday.com, you can easily give different levels of guest access to various stakeholders. For example, you can assign a VIP client or project sponsor the ability to add and edit features. 

    It makes it easier to meet and collaborate on the backlog, as you can do so over phone or Zoom calls — yep, we’ve got an integration for that — rather than having to meet in person.

    4. Use custom templates to plan your iterations or sprints

    Instead of messy whiteboards, you can make work assignments super clear with a digital sprint board. Color-coded item statuses, priorities, and assigned owner columns leave no room for doubt. You can use and customize our ready-made templates to suit your unique Agile process.

    monday.com agile iteration planning template

    5. Use synced dashboards to get live, high-level overviews

    You can combine data from multiple sources to build custom dashboards in minutes with our widgets and drag-and-drop editor.

    monday.com dashboards with widgets showing project status, board views, and more.

    Is Agile right for you?

    With this new and useful knowledge in your pocket, you may already be thinking just how much an Agile approach to project management could boost your team’s transparency and productivity. A great way to start and to make sure adoption goes smoothly, is to start building out these processes with monday.com, which makes it easy to onboard everyone.

    You can try monday.com to build your Agile project management plan for free, no credit card required.

    Try monday.com

    Get started for free