In 2001, a group of software experts crafted the Manifesto for Agile Software Development to offer a new approach in solving an old software development problem. The problem is having too much to do and not having enough time to do it. The Agile approach or methodology created a new mindset, that is best described by four values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Agile software development methodology was used as an alternative to more traditional software development life cycle (SDLC) models like waterfall. After being recognized for its benefits, Agile principles are being adopted across teams, business units, organizations, and industries. Companies are practicing Agile in developing their radio programs, in inventing new machines, in producing aircraft, in marketing, and more.
What is Agile project management?
Project management that was effective for construction projects in the early days proved to be not as effective for software projects. As the software industry transitioned to practicing Agile methods, project managers also adopted Agile principles to apply tools and techniques that can better manage software projects. There is also a difference between managing Agile projects and practicing Agile project management. Agile project management, compared to traditional PM, is more flexible in responding to changes in the project plan. It welcomes changing requirements and delivers frequently through iterations or increments throughout the project life cycle.
What are the Challenges of Agile?
When the Agile movement began, there were a lot of questions and very few answers. As time went and experiments proceeded, it became evident which implementations worked and which ones did not. Agile projects can fail like any other project, but at least they fail faster. There are fewer rules in Agile PM compared to traditional PM, but the negative consequences and outcome of not following all the rules is the same as with other PM practices. Documentation is lighter with Agile due to the emphasis on face-to-face interactions and working product over documents. This can sometimes result in issues with traceability and accountability.
The Best Books for Agile Project Management
Here are some textbooks and materials that can help project professionals understand and execute Agile project management in a more effective way.
1. Agile Project Management For Dummies
Author Mark Layton is a veteran project and program manager, a certified PMP, Scrum Alliance certification instructor, and a management consultant offering agile transformation expertise. The book makes it in three Amazon top 10 categories, including Agile Project Management. The 400+ pages are divided in six parts and 22 chapters, covering topics such as understanding Agile, different Agile approaches like Lean, Scrum, and XP, Agile planning and execution, and more. Customers like how the Agile textbook breaks down the different roles, how easy to find information in it, and how those new to Agile can understand the basics. The third edition is to be published in September 2020.
2. Coaching Agile Teams
Author Lyssa Adkins has over 20 years of project management experience with more than a decade as an Agile coach and Scrum trainer. The book is in the top 10 in Amazon’s Best Seller in the Agile Project Management category. Its 300-plus pages are divided in three parts and 13 chapters. It discusses topics such as why Agile coaching matters, setting expectation, and how to help the team get more. Readers like how the examples, stories, and how-to dialogues. It has helped new and experienced Scrum masters with insights and tools.
3. Agile Estimating and Planning
Author Mike Cohn is a veteran software developer and Agile and Scrum expert trainer with over two decades of experience. It is a practical book that details the principles, guidelines, and tools in how to plan, estimate, and schedule Agile projects. This agile project management book has been praised by experts who are signatories to the 2001 Agile Manifesto, like Ken Schwaber, Ron Jeffries, and Kent Beck. It has 360 pages and include real-world examples and case studies that will be of value to Agile project managers, software development managers, team leaders, and members.
4. The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility
Authors Michele Sliger and Stacia Viscardi are experienced PMPs and Scrum trainers who wrote a guide to help project professionals transition successfully to new Agile roles and responsibilities. The book is divided in three parts and 17 chapters. It covers topics from Agile concepts, relating the PMBOK Guide practices to Agile practices, and responsibilities, teamwork, PMO, and more. Customers found the Agile book really helpful, well-written, and explained, especially those new to Agile.
5. Agile Project Management with Kanban
Author Eric Brechner is a development manager for Microsoft with over 20 years of experience involved in various projects like Xbox and Azure. The book has been in the top 30 of Amazon’s Agile Project Management best sellers for several years. The textbook’s 160 pages are divided into nine chapters that cover topics from getting management’s consent for the team to use Kanban, the basics of Kanban, and using Kanban within large organizations. Readers praise the Agile textbook for its practical project management tips and for being concise. It is a valuable reference for people looking for an alternative to waterfall or Scrum.
Here are some resources and communities that are dedicated to Agile and can help project management professionals:
The Agile Alliance – a non-profit member organization with a mission to promote Agile software development concepts.
Agile Project Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet – a handy reference.
InfoQ – the agile section from an independent online community that facilitates the dissemination of knowledge and innovation in the field of software development.