Innovative and rapidly developing companies have every interest in turning to agile methods to carry out their projects. Introduction to the agile methodology.
“The first time you do an agile project it can be confusing,” admits Simon Leblanc, an IT project manager with experience in the two approaches, traditional and agile. “We need to change our manager reflexes.”
In the traditional perspective of project management, the budget, objectives and deliverables are first defined, then the work is staggered over a fixed period of time, wrapping up with a final product. In contrast, the agile approach is more a matter of work in progress.
“We proceed by iteration,” explains Simon Leblanc. “We begin with a small budget, to deliver to the client an initial phase that works. It’s an approach in which the client is very much involved. It works well for innovative or transformational projects that have a lot of unknowns. The agile methodology is flexible and allows adjustments to be made along the way.”
Agile methodology: a frame of reference
The “agile” methodology was originally conceived and popularized at the turn of the 2000s by the 17 experts who wrote the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
The approach is centred around 4 values (individuals are more important than the process, software that works is more important than detailed documentation, collaboration with the client and adaptation to change) as well as 12 principles, including the obligation to deliver operational software at all stages of the process.
For managers who want to make the transition from traditional methodology to agile methodology, Simon Leblanc suggests first seeking certification or getting the support of an agile coach or a good scrum master (which is somewhat equivalent to the project manager in agile methodology), to ensure that the basic principles are fully understood.
“There are also firms specializing in supporting the agile approach,” says the project manager.
In addition, this type of project requires special conditions to work well. Not only does it require an independent team, able to work closely to manage the risks related to the agile methodology, but it also takes a client who wants to be involved.
“The most important criteria to me is the client’s availability. We need a client who can be involved in the project, because we need him to make decisions quickly. Otherwise the gains that this methodology brings us are lost.”