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Increasing your agility as a project manager will pay off with an increased reputation for success. You must be quick-footed and responsive to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment where changes in technology, customer preferences, and market conditions are constantly shifting.
To help you achieve that nimble footing, we’ve put together a list of six tips to maximize performance. These suggestions will help you stand out as a project manager who can quickly respond to changes while maintaining your focus to deliver high-quality results.
Agile management delivers work in increments, which is the mechanism that allows you to quickly respond to issues as they arise. However, the only way for this to be effective is through consistent collaboration and communication among team members.
Here are six ways to foster this type of environment and deliver the type of results that will bring you positive recognition.
1. Have a Daily Scrum Meeting Every Day – No Exceptions!
You must make the stand-up or scrum meeting a daily habit. Just like brushing your teeth each day without exception, that is how you should think of the scrum meeting. It can be tempting to skip it one day because everyone is busy or some team members are out of the office, but do not do it. It is a slippery slope.
Once you and your team get accustomed to the format of the meeting and the fact that it is a non-negotiable, it will become like a well-oiled machine that will serve you very well.
The daily scrum keeps everyone informed about what their colleagues are working on, and it identifies any roadblocks that might cause a problem.
To maximize the productivity of this meeting, hold it every day, at the same time, and in the same place. This eliminates any confusion as to who should attend, where to meet and what time. It will become as much a part of the daily routine as grabbing a morning coffee.
Most teams meet first thing in the morning, but if you have team members in other time zones, you may have to adjust this.
The meeting should last no more than 15 minutes, so “share time” is quite limited and should be streamlined to fit the format. Team members briefly share their progress and any challenges they are facing. This can help identify potential issues early on and allow the team to quickly adapt and pivot as needed.
Often, attendees literally stand for the meeting, hence the name stand-up. The thought being that it will become uncomfortable to stand for more than 15 minutes, so it will keep everyone alert and comments streamlined.
Daily stand-up meetings also help team members stay focused and accountable. By regularly checking in with each other, they are more likely to stay on track and meet their commitments.
2. Limit Goals in Sprint Planning.
Sprint planning is a key component of the Agile method of project management. A sprint usually encompasses a time frame of two to four weeks. During sprint planning, the team reviews the product backlog and selects items that can be completed during the next sprint.
By focusing on a limited set of goals for each sprint, your team can remain flexible and responsive to changes in priorities or requirements. It allows them to devote more time and resources to completing each goal to a higher level of quality. And that increases the chances of delivering a successful product.
With fewer goals in the mix at any one time, your team can make sure they’re working on the most important tasks first. It improves focus and makes it easier to identify and address obstacles that arise, further maximizing agility in the project.
A narrower focus also helps to avoid scope creep, which can lead to delays and increased costs.
3. Require an All Play for Team Members in a Sprint Review.
At the end of each sprint, the sprint review is held for the team to share their work with the stakeholders. You should involve all team members in this process, encouraging them to present their work and take ownership of it. It is an opportunity for the group to get feedback and make any necessary adjustments.
There are several ways a sprint review can improve your ability to manage a project:
- Increased motivation and engagement. When team members are encouraged to present their work and take ownership for it, that typically leads to a sense of pride and responsibility. This can lead to better performance and higher-quality work.
- Faster identification and resolution of issues. By involving all team members in the sprint review, you can ensure that all aspects of the work are being reviewed. This will help identify anything that might have fallen through the cracks.
- Better alignment of team members. When everyone is involved in the sprint review, it gives your team members a better understanding of how their work fits into the overall goals of the project and how it contributes to the project’s success. It also helps team members align their efforts for a more efficient and effective use of resources.
- Improved communication. Encouraging all team members to participate creates an environment of open communication, which benefits all aspects of agile project management.
Having all of your team members participate in a sprint review will underscore the value of their work and help them feel more invested in the success of the project.
4. Have a Sprint Retrospective Meeting at the End of Each Sprint.
Having a sprint retrospective meeting at the end of each sprint is a crucial step in maximizing agility in project management. This meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the previous sprint and identify ways to improve the process and increase efficiency.
While the sprint review focused on the content produced during the sprint, the sprint retrospective focuses on the processes used to create that content.
As the project manager, you will facilitate this meeting and makes sure all team members have an opportunity to share their comments. The team should discuss what went well, what could be improved, and what actions should be taken to make those improvements.
You should also take time to celebrate the team’s successes during the sprint. This helps to boost morale and improve motivation.
You will ensure that all action items are assigned to a team member and dictate how progress will be tracked during the next sprint.
A sprint retrospective can help in the following ways:
- Allows teams to continuously improve. By regularly reviewing their work processes, teams can continuously find ways to optimize their workflows and become more efficient. This helps your team stay agile and adapt to changes more quickly.
- It helps teams identify and address roadblocks. During a sprint retrospective, teams discuss challenges they encountered and brainstorm solutions for the future.
- Fosters a culture of continuous learning. A regular review gives the team an opportunity to learn from their successes and failures and apply those lessons to future work. Being open to new ideas and approaches helps a team remain agile.
5. Regularly Update the Product Backlog.
The product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done on a project. You will need to meet regularly with your team to review and refine the backlog. Based on the current needs of the project, you may adjust priorities or add new items.
Product backlog refinement helps you better manage your project in several ways:
- It helps teams prioritize their work. By regularly reviewing and prioritizing the product backlog, teams can ensure they are focusing on the most important tasks and avoiding unnecessary work.
- It allows teams to adapt to changes. Continuously updating the product backlog allows teams to quickly identify and incorporate changes into their work plans.
- It helps teams stay focused on the end goal. A regular review helps to make sure that the team is focused and making progress toward the end goal of the project.
6. Use a Kansan Board to Visually Track Progress.
A Kanban board is a visual tool that will help your team track the progress of their work. It typically consists of a series of columns that represent the different stages of work such as, To Do, In progress, and Done. Team members move their work items from one column to the next as they complete each stage.
Using a Kanban board can help you maximize agility in several ways:
- Track progress in real-time. By visualizing the progress of their work on a Kanban board, a team can quickly identify which tasks are complete and which tasks are still in progress.
- Prioritize work. By placing work items in different columns based on their priority, teams can ensure that they are focusing on the most important tasks first.
- Make changes. By regularly updating the Kanban board, teams can quickly identify and incorporate changes into their work plans.
Having your team use a Kanban board will help you stay agile by allowing you to continuously monitor progress, identify and address issues, and adapt as needed.
Follow These Tips for a Successful Project
Most of the advice for improving agility is centered around good communication used on a scheduled, regular basis. That’s because consistently talking with your team members and having them talk to each other, goes a long way toward keeping a project running smoothly. It makes you aware of problems as soon as they arise, giving you a chance to quickly step in and get things back on track.
If you follow the tips above, you will no doubt improve the team’s performance—and that, improves your performance.