IT agility refers to an iterative approach to planning and guiding project processes that anticipates a need for flexibility and mid-project adjustments. Agile and Lean methodologies are becoming increasingly valuable for SMB CIOs, protecting their IT organizations from making major mistakes -- and monetary investments -- from which they can't quickly recover.
Agile project management methodologies got their start in Agile software development practices, whereby teams are encouraged to keep their code simple, test products often and deliver functional pieces of software or applications as soon as they become available, and then improve products as feedback streams in.
In this Agile guide, learn how Agile practices can guide both project management and software development strategies in today's SMB IT organization.
This Agile guide for SMB CIOs is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on important issues.
Table of contents:
Syncing Agile methodologies and mobile application development
Maxim Magazine CTO Michael Le Du is trying to sort through the same problem many IT leaders face these days: how to quickly turn around mobile apps on a budget. And -- since competition is fierce in his business with plenty of other men's magazines jockeying for the attention of the coveted smartphone audience -- Le Du might feel even more pressure than other CTOs.
On the bright side, Le Du has a tried-and-true strategy. As a self-described "Agile Unitarian" (as opposed to "Agile dogmatist"), he plans to apply his Agile best practices of choice to mobile dev projects -- namely, small iterations with minimal features and functionality driven by end-user feedback.
Le Du took the same approach with the relaunch of Maxim's website last January. At the time, he moved Maxim off its legacy content management system and put it on a Drupal open source content management platform. These days he has his eye on converting video content to play on mobile devices for his readers' viewing pleasure.
Read more about Le Du's best practices for taking an Agile approach to developing mobile applications.
Agile guide video primer on project management techniques
What are the latest project management strategies for an Agile world? Watch these videos to find out.
Don't limit project planning to post-mortems
Every team can improve project delivery by adapting Lean and Agile methodologies to "lessons learned," even to projects that do not use an Agile approach.
Traditional project management lessons-learned sessions are useless for three key reasons:
- The items or problems identified are specific to the team, the project and the technology.
- The lessons-learned sessions are held at the end of the project.
- If items are not team-, project- or technology-specific, they are so vague as to be useless.
In this section of the Agile guide, let's look at the problems with each of these approaches.
Read more from Agile project management expert Joseph Flahiff in this tip on Agile and Lean.
A glossary guide to Agile terminologyFamiliarize yourself with these project management terms related to Agile planning and development.
Find a project management strategy that works for you
Remember Microsoft Project? Gantt charts? Week-long stakeholder reviews? Successful IT project management in the '80s, '90s and even in the first part of the last decade was a horse of a different color compared with what it is today. The sad truth is that those techniques are not only dated, but also aren't successful IT project management styles any longer. Why? I see two big reasons why the traditional methods of project management have become obsolete.
First of all, IT project boundaries aren't as clear as they were five or 10 years ago. What does finished actually mean? Projects usually are thought to have some type of conclusion wherein all stakeholders agree the project has reached a satisfactory state. Ten years ago, the process of building an internal application was finished when it was deployed and being used by a CIO's users: Install, run and that's the end of it.
Now the definition of finished is very fuzzy.
Read more project management advice in this tip from contributor Jonathan Hassell.
Agile methodologies and strategy quiz for CIOs and IT managers
Do you have the ability to master agility? As prompt IT strategic decision-making becomes ever more important, many organizations are turning to Agile methodologies to guide their project management efforts. Based on the Agile software development principles of small iterations and rapid development, Agile project management helps IT leaders sort through project issues as they arise, helping their teams deliver successful results on time and within budget. Moreover, Agile software development methodologies are proving to be particularly important in the mobile movement, satisfying customers with frequent updates and constant software improvements.
Does your organization understand all there is to know about using Agile methodologies in project management and beyond? Test your knowledge of Agile strategy by reviewing some of our past coverage and taking our quiz.