How Agile saved us from most common project management problems

A team encounters countless problems when executing a project or developing a product. However, not every team successfully learn from their challenges and make improvements.

Although it is not a ticket to a problem-free working process, Agile has given us a natural mechanism to solve common problems more effectively and save valuable resources for teams as well as stakeholders.

This article will look at 4 common critical issues in project management and how Agile has influenced us to solve them:

1. Communication

We just could not stress the importance of communication enough in everything we do, not project management alone.

Ironically enough, every team faces some miscommunication issue, a reality where there is no communication scheme implanted in their working process.

Whereas in Agile, interactions and collaborations within a team are among the core values in Agile.

For example, we have daily Scrum meetings where members plan their days and resolve impediments together, to ensure the project is running.

Plus, Scrum teams are usually small (as the size of a two-pizza-team: a team that can be fed with 2 pizzas), hence the communication is decentralized, has higher quality, which allows teams to progress faster with fewer bottlenecks.

Moreover, clients are in touch with their teams constantly, letting to more transparency, more trust. As a result, clients and teams have a good opportunity to grow and perfect the working processes together, in addition to achieving the end goal.

2. Undefined goals & vague requirement

A same old story many teams have been facing.

Goals, requirements and expectations are what should be communicated to everyone involved as they are directions for the whole team to move forward.

So how to make sure we collect every information we need?

In Scrum, there are many meetings: project kickoff, sprint planning, sprint review, retrospective, daily Scrum (are you losing counts yet?).

That we have so many meetings keeps everyone aligned with the goals, objectives and requirements and avoids any ambiguity.

In addition to meetings, Scrum teams break a big chunk of tasks into smaller and achievable chunks. Then again, we break tasks daily to ensure we are progressing in small things got done each day.

In Scrum, to achieve one big fatty goal, Scrum teams work with baby goals. This approach is especially helpful when uncertainty exists. With focus on one working deliverable at a time, it is easier to determine requirements for each sprint.

3. Scope creep

Scope creep is another common headache for most project teams, mainly because there is no established mechanism to react to changes. And if it happens too often, we are looking at possible failure.

However, scope creep is not that scary to Scrum teams.

The key lies in Agile mechanism to welcome changes and quickly react to them. Scrum teams commit to the objectives set for each sprint and product owners (clients) are in charge of prioritizing works. At the start of each sprint, the whole team gathers and agree on the backlog, and lock it for that sprint.

With short duration for each sprint (1–2 weeks), when a change surges, works will not cause a turbulence to the whole plan. And since Agile is always about welcoming change, our backlogs always leave rooms for unexpected tasks, resulting in only slight adjustment.

4. Task management

“The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” (Agile Principles)

In Agile, self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team ( One of their characteristics include being proactive to take care of their jobs and work toward the objectives instead of relying others to make decisions for them.

Additionally, works are distributed evenly, due to peer pressure as everyone in the team can transparently see if any member is not doing a fair share of work.

Time to kiss delegation goodbye.

Agile philosophy, while is not a supreme one that ensures a 100% success rate, has been contributing to address the most problematic issues in project management with a people-empowering approach, thanks to the belief“Build projects around motivated individuals.

Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. “ (Agile Principles)

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