Business

4 Signs Your Business Needs An Agile Project Management Tool

There are many different project management methodologies, and the odds are that you’ve used several if you’re a project manager. There are a few red flags that can indicate that the project management tools you’re using are not up to the job. Furthermore, some of these warning signs can give you an indication of which project management tool you should be using. Here are 4 signs your business needs an agile project management tool.

Your Projects Are Always Late

A single late project doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change project management methods. However, if your projects are consistently running late, you probably need to do something different. If you’re constantly struggling to meet a fixed budget or fixed date plan, changes have to be made. Conversely, switching to projects with a faster turnaround time can keep people focused on their task at hand and motivate them to get things done.

You’re Struggling To Manage Multiple Projects

Managing multiple projects is always a challenge. Unfortunately, if you don’t have tight control and accurate feedback, it becomes chaos. The traditional solution for managing simultaneous projects is to create detailed plans for all of them. That pre-planning is a waste of time and effort when you’re already strapped for both, and it leaves you without a plan to juggle people’s time between multiple projects, though you as project manager are always updating these detailed project plans after things change. 

A benefit of agile project management is that you can prioritize the highest priority projects and know that you’ll get them done. You decide what incremental software release or product change has to be done first and dedicate resources to that. It gets tested, verified and released. Then you can move on to the next highest priority after verifying with the customer that that’s what needs to be done. And no one wastes time and energy on developments that don’t matter anymore.

For instance, you can use a Kanban tool such as Kanbanize to reassess priorities on the fly when managing multiple projects. With it, you can plan work in small batches, which allows you retain flexibility in case you need to add changes that add an immediate value to a product/service even in late in the development process. Now you’re working on continual improvement which is at the core of Kanban, and most Agile methodologies out there.

But more importantly, Kanban allows a workflow to be clearly visible to all stakeholders, managers, and team members. By having a clear visual of the workflow, you can quickly identify bottlenecks, run performance analysis, and allow for more personal accountability. 

This type of transparency is something that is hard to get with traditional project management, and teams are often blamed for individual poor performance. It’s also very hard to almost impossible to visualize the workflow. This makes it very difficult to see which tasks exactly were holding off the project, and if it is a recurring issue with the process or employees, as well as if there are some understaffing and WIP issues that need to be addressed.

The Project Requirements Keep Changing

Project requirements may change, whether your budget got slashed or the market radically changed. However, something is wrong if the project requirements keep changing. 

It could be the result of failing to gather customer requirements at the beginning, or you may not be applying tight control to requested additional requirements. Agile project management addresses both by ensuring you’ve gathered all of the customer requirements at the onset and continue getting their feedback during product development and testing. Agile project management also provides an incremental method for updates and making small incremental changes. Then you can make modest changes after the product release instead of revamping the entire thing.

You Don’t Know What Is Going On

If you cannot properly assess the true state of the project, your project management methodology is failing. For example, if you don’t know that projects are over-budget or behind schedule, something is wrong. On the flip side, good project management techniques like Agile allow you to better estimate time and resource commitments. 

The Agile project management system also makes it easier to coordinate the flow of work from analysts to developers to testers while knowing feedback gets back to the prior groups. Everyone is better informed when you use Agile, and you eliminate confusing solutions like sticky notes and whiteboards.

A side benefit of the Agile methodology is that sales and marketing know what you’re doing, whether it is a bug fix or creation of the next software release. Customer feedback is captured and saved, and you’ll know if and when it will be incorporated into the product. Stakeholders are kept in the loop as well, and you don’t waste time manually collecting information for reports to tell them what is happening.

Shortening lifecycles can improve focus, accountability, and reporting. However, shifting to agile project management allows you to do this plus simplify project management and requirements management.