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Agile' Methods Provide More Flexibility in Project Management, Software Design

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January 15, 2013

Agile' Methods Provide More Flexibility in Project Management, Software Design

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

There’s an increasingly popular method used in businesses and other organizations – especially in software development – called “agile” management.

It’s different from typical project management, as it is much more flexible and far more interactive than many other techniques employed to elicit organizational change.

According to one explanation from the Agile Leadership Network, there are several characteristics to the agile approach. It allows for changes in product development – even when it’s late in the process.

Also, there’s more informal person-to-person interaction among team members. The entire process stresses simplicity. In addition, in the case of software, business executives and developers work together daily during the project.

Agile (News - Alert) also is changing how organizations operate. “Business architecture projects and the broader acceptance of Agile methods are forcing business analysts to take on broader project responsibilities,” Nancy Y. Nee, vice president, Global Project Strategy, ESI International (News - Alert), said in a recent statement. “With that in mind, we think that 2013 may mark the year when the role of the BA gets called up into the big leagues.”

According to information posted on, agile is unique in that it uses “regular cadences of work, known as sprints or iterations, at the end of which teams must present a potentially shippable product increment,” the website report explained. “By focusing on the repetition of abbreviated work cycles as well as the functional product they yield, agile methodology is described as ‘iterative’ and ‘incremental.’”

To learn more about agile methods in project management and related business analysis trends highlighted by ESI, see the video below.

In addition, agile methods are found in diverse business sectors, government agencies and not-for-profits such as healthcare.

There are some clear examples of agile methods in operation. For instance, two business management specialists, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, recently noted in a Harvard Business Review blog post how the U.K. military used agile methods during this past summer’s Olympics held in London. At the last minute, it was clear that a private security firm was not going to be able to do all of its security assignments. The British military stepped in.

The blog post explains that the military acted in a swift way and adapted fast. They showed agility in handling security threats. They acted in a very professional manner, which was appreciated by visitors to the games and by other staff for the Olympics.

Even complex problems raised by the Olympics were solved creatively by the military.

“The clever organizations are the ones that turn threats into opportunities, relying on professionalism and creativity to respond with agility,” according to the Harvard Business Review blog post.

In another example, Jeff Gothelf, an interaction designer, said in a second Harvard Business Review blog post that “many companies struggle to get to a point of true agility” when developing software.

When agile methods are used, designers of software saw that others from the team had greater input and brought more value to the process. “We had to rethink the way we did software design,” Gothelf said about his experience with agile methods. “Our expertise, talent, techniques, and tools were still very much necessary, but how they were executed, who was involved with them, and their timing all required change.” 

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Edited by Braden Becker

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