Agile project management is a powerful approach to managing projects. It can help produce quality products in a quick, efficient manner. However persuading people to be “agile” usually involves overcoming a number of common misconceptions.
- “We don’t need to plan on agile projects.” Yes you do! Coordinating work so that it can finish within short sprints needs careful planning. Tools like Burndown Charts help monitor whether you are on track by providing estimates of how much work remains
- “Agile is a sloppy, ill-disciplined way of managing projects.” I would say the reverse is true. Agile project management practices such as delivering in short sprints and sprint planning create a very focused, transparent and efficient way of managing projects.
- “Agile projects deliver sooner.” This could be true, especially if you are used to using a waterfall approach to project management where everything is delivered in one batch at the end of the project. However you may need to go through a number of iterative sprints to deliver everything that was originally envisioned. The benefit of an agile approach though, is these early iterations are delivering value straight away to your clients.
- “Agile is easier for my customers.” Actually in some ways it is harder, as the client needs to be more heavily involved giving feedback about deliverables at the end of each sprint. Unless the benefits are properly explained (i.e. better end products) this can lead to irritated customers.
- “Agile will be too chaotic to track progress.” Actually agile is completely transparent. For example it is very easy to know what each team member is doing via the daily scrums and the Burndown Charts.
- “Agile project teams are never disturbed once they start a sprint.” Keeping the team away from interruptions so they stay focused is an important part of agile. However common sense should always prevail over blindly sticking to a process. There are times when even agile teams need to be redirected during a sprint.
- “You just need a Scrum Master Certification to implement agile.” Well it certainly helps, but Scrum only shows you some of the rules of agile. If you learnt the rules of chess you could hardly call yourself a chess grand master! That only comes with years of practice at the game. The same is true for agile projects. Yes you first need to learn the rules. But then you need to practice and also seek expert advice and coaching as you implement the ideas.