GET AN OVERVIEW OF THE AGILE PRINCIPLES, THE AGILE MANIFESTO, AGILE METHODS AND THE AGILE PROJECT ORGANISATION ON WHICH AGILE-ON-TIME IS BUILT.
The Agile Manifesto
At this page, you can read all about the Agile Manifesto and which thoughts that created the agile method. The Agile Manifesto is formed to work as a guide for the management of agile projects. The Agile manifesto is short and contains simple messages which makes it easy to remember and have in mind while working on agile projects.
Two projects have been delivered in time and the rest are delivered one to four weeks before deadline or are currently ongoing. Our clients are happy for it and we are proud of it.
The points to the left all have value, but we chose to prioritize the points to the right.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
In an agile project, the team and team members will always play the most important role for the project and its success. Each team member is expected to be collaborating and able to work with everyone else on the project. It is also important that the team members are ready to fulfill their role in the project and use their knowledge and experience, to create the best possible result of the project that matches the client´s needs. Even though processes and tools play an important role in all projects, the focus on this is not the same at all in an agile project. Agile processes should be there to support and guide the project members, instead of telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. It is assumed that the team members are best qualified to decide what should be done and how it is done in the best way.
Working software over comprehensive documentation
This part of the Agile Manifesto is made to break the traditional view saying that stability and safety comes from documentation driven processes. The agile method has the conception, that it is a waste of time to specify the plans down to every detail to get the tasks approved by stakeholders before the work can get started. In return, the agile method finds it necessary to do high-level planning in the beginning to set the framework for the project. The purpose of using iterations in an agile project is to deliver a well-functioning piece of software in the end of each iteration. Thereby, after every iteration, there will be something delivered which is both a part of the final product, but also can be used right away and therefore creates value itself.
Working software is prioritized over comprehensive documentation, because this attitude creates most value for the customer and also gives the project members a better work dynamic.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
The agile project method contains the idea, that the team members through close collaboration will find the best way to solve the tasks in the project. This means that the agile manifesto supports collaboration – both among the team members, but also when it comes to the customer. A contract between a supplier and a customer can be everything from a formal document signed by both parties, to an informal verbal agreement. What all contracts have in common is that they all have to work as guidelines for the project instead of being filled with details. Because of that, it will always be more important to have a functioning and close collaboration with the customer instead of spending an unlimited number of hours and lots of energy to negotiate about a specific contract.
Responding to change over following a plan
Plans are often made in agile projects. Every sprint is planned and the plan helps making it easy for the team members to make quick decisions during the project. Though it is important, that the plans don’t become the dominating factors which above all shall be followed down to every detail. The important thing about agile projects is to create value, which means that there should be space for changes during the project if they can improve the final result. Therefore, it is more important to stick with the ideas and values of the project than to the plan itself when it comes to the process before the project, where it is planned and organized.
When a project is at its beginning, the plan you make is based on a limited knowledge and assumption about how the project will proceed in the best possible way. Changes during the project is thereby totally natural, because the agile method recognizes that you will increase your knowledge as the project extends. The longer you get into the project, the more knowledge and practical experience you get, which can be used for making the remaining project process even better.
Because of that, agile projects are arranged in a way that makes it possible to include new knowledge along the way and change the direction for the product if this generates a more optimal solution.
Agile methods and principles – Agile On Time
Agile methods are intended to prioritize the tasks in a project in a way that creates the biggest value possible for the people the solution is made for. Thereby, the Agile Method does not invite to have a completely established plan like other project methods, because it should be possible to prioritize between the tasks during the project to create as much value as possible for the customer. The process and results of the project are evaluated regularly and based on this the tasks are prioritized in the order that makes most sense. By Agile Methods it´s taken into account that you can´t predict the progress of the project from beginning to end, but that you obtain more knowledge about the project along the way in line with eventual changes and new knowledge.
The agile method is based on a procedure which has its starting point in DSDM´s Eight Agile Principles:
Focus on the Business need
In a project, there should always be a focus on delivering exactly what the business needs to get delivered and every decision should reflect this. In this context, it is important to remember that a project is a tool to reach a goal and not is a goal itself.
Deliver on time
It is very important for a project to deliver a solution on time and often it is the biggest factor of success. A solution delivered too late can often ruin the purpose of the project and can among others decrease market opportunities and cause problems in terms of legislation. In projects where the time dimension is not the most important thing it is still a good way to signal control of the project to the customer by adhering to a deadline.
Collaborating contributes to creating a common understanding, knowledge and increased working speed in the agile teams. By this, the team members make results together, that are both better and are generated in shorter time than if everyone had to solve a task separately.
Therefore, teams with a high degree of collaboration, commitment and lots of team spirit will always perform better than the teams that do not get to collaborate and have bad communication.
Never compromise quality
When using the agile method, supplier and customer always agree in advance, how the quality of the finished product has to be. The quality should be high enough for the solution to be used effectively afterwards. Because of that, all the tasks of the project should strive to reach the exact agreed quality and neither more or less.
Build incrementally from firm foundations
Something that really divides agile methods from other project methods, is the way in which the project is planned. In the agile method, it is proposed to start by understanding the extent of the project and prepare a suggestion for a solution, but with a less degree of detail than in other project methods.
Based on the solid fundament, the solution is delivered step by step in an order that prioritizes the tasks that provide most value for the customer. This procedure is both the most beneficial for the customer and helps increasing the customer´s trust.
Agile methods use a combination between iterative development, frequent demonstrations and evaluation to get regular feedback. If you acknowledge, that change is a part of the process to the solution it gets easier for all teams to develop a solution that is exactly how the customer wants it. It is rare that all solutions are made perfectly the first time and therefore the concept with iterations is important for the agile method. This working approach makes sense because projects and their outside world are constantly changing.
Communicate continuously and clearly
Bad communication or lack of it is often seen as the biggest reason for projects to go wrong. Agile methods are organized exactly in a way that supports the importance of communication and generates better communication among the teams. The communication is among other improved through Stand-Up Meetings, workshops and by clearly to agreeing which roles and responsibilities every project member has.
To demonstrate control in a project, it is necessary to really have control of the project. The team can achieve that by making a plan for which work needs to be done to develop the solution. This plan is made through a project breakdown and thereafter a Dependency Wall is made to keep the overview and control of the project. By doing that, you not only demonstrate control but you also generate transparency in the project which benefits both the customer and the process for the project itself.
PRINCE2 is a project management method that is designed in a way that makes it suitable for all project types and sizes. The PRINCE2 method focuses on the project management itself and supports both the project manager, steering committee and teams in the execution of the project. Some important keywords in PRINCE2 are among other flexibility and clear communication between the project members.
PRINCE2 consists of seven principles from which you work, if you follow this approach in your project:
1. Continued Business Justification
A project has to make sense in terms of business. The return on Investment (ROI) must be clear and time and resources spend on it should be justified.
2. Learn from Experience
The team members in a project should learn from the experiences they have made in earlier projects.
3. Define Roles and Responsibilities
All the involved people in a project should know what others do and what they do themselves. This includes knowing who takes the decisions.
4. Manage the Project in Stages
Difficult tasks are easier and better solved if they are broken into manageable parts.
5. Management is an Exception
Projects that are well-driven don´t need managers to interfere in how the project should run. The project management is only informed in case problems might occur.
6. Focus on the Products
All project members should know what´s expected of the product in advance. The demands of the product control the tasks and not the other way around.
7. Tailor to the Environment
Because PRINCE2 can be scaled and tailored, this should be done according to the needs and scale of the project.
PRINCE2 works good as the frame for a project and thereby it is beneficial to use it in interaction with tools from other project methods. It is obvious to use PRINCE2 and Scrum together because they complement each other appropriately.
At Plan A Projects, the DSDM approach is used in collaboration with PRINCE2 for projects. That works well because PRINCE2 is a good tool for managing outwards and upwards and to structure on an overall level, while our own approach is more focused on the project execution itself.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a development method that can be used in the agile world. When using Scrum, you organize the project into iterations – or sprints – that maximally last for four weeks.
This structure exists to give the project members space to get more knowledge during the project and to find how the solution is developed best possible. The tasks in a project will get prioritized along the way, thus the tasks that itself create value for the receiver are carried out at first.
When working with Scrum and the philosophy behind, you prepare yourself for changes and unexpected challenges that can occur along the way and which you have to take into account.
Before every sprint is kicked off, the tasks are prioritized in an order, where the most important and value-generating tasks are done first. Therefore, the process with the project breakdown focusses on breaking the project down until the point where sub-elements can be done within one sprint, which is four weeks.
When a sprint is done, the receiver is supposed to get a finished part of the final result that in the moment already generates value for the business.
In projects that use Scrum you find different project roles. Project members, who solve the tasks, are divided into Development Teams that often consist of three to nine persons. It is preferred, that the Development Teams consist of inter-professional competencies and are able to work independently. When the scope of the tasks is estimated it is assumed, that the members of the Development Team are the most suitable for doing it.
In Scrum projects there is also a Scrum Master who is seen as the leader of the project. The Scrum Master is responsible for coaching all teams and make the road to the final result as easy as possible for them.
Finally, there is a Product Owner who is a person who knows the customer and knows how the final solution will be used. The Product Owner is responsible for prioritizing between the tasks during every sprint and should evaluate it afterwards.
Scrum vs DSDM
Scrum is not suitable for all kinds of projects. In short, Scrum is designed for solving smaller projects and ongoing maintenance of example a webpage. By contrast, the governance of DSDM is designed for handling both small and very big projects. This is why companies can get problems by using only Scrum for bigger projects.
We suggest using DSDM because this approach has the whole governance device based on experience from many projects. On the other hand, DSDM can seem a bit overwhelming, which is why our customers appreciate our operational interpretation of DSDM which has turned out to work in many different contexts. Der are also many reasons for why we suggest DSDM over Scrum. The most important are listed here.