What is agile project management?


Agile project management is an iterative and incremental approach to delivering requirements throughout the project life cycle. At the core, agile projects should exhibit central values and behaviours of trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration.

Featured article - Becoming agile 

The move to becoming an agile organisation brings change. It impacts on the traditional culture and introduces new ways of working on projects – so not everyone will be convinced! What does it take to successfully introduce that change?

Agile project management has come a long way since its emergence in the world of IT back in the 1990s.

Yet the concept is still surrounded by misgiving, misconception and even mistrust by many, particularly if it entails a shift in culture, changing the way things have always been done – you know where you are with tried and tested processes, tools and techniques. ...

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A Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery

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What are the differences between an agile and waterfall approach?

These four aspects highlight the difference between agile and waterfall (or more traditional) approaches to project management:

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  • Individuals and interaction over process and tools;
  • Responding to change over following a structured plan;
  • Prototyping/working solutions over comprehensive documentation.

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What are the benefits of agile working?

  • Agile approaches empower those involved; build accountability; encourage diversity of ideas; allowing the early release of benefits; and promotion of continuous improvement.
  • Agile helps build client and user engagement because changes are incremental and evolutionary rather than revolutionary: it can therefore be effective in supporting cultural change that is critical to the success of most transformation projects.  
  • Agile allows decision ‘gremlins’ to be tested and rejected early: the tight feedback loops provide benefits in agile that are not as evident in waterfall.

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What are the principles of an agile way of working?

The agile philosophy concentrates on empowered people and their interactions and early and constant delivery of value into an enterprise. Agile project management focuses on delivering maximum value against business priorities in the time and budget allowed, especially when the drive to deliver is greater than the risk. Principles include:

  • The project breaks a requirement into smaller pieces, which are then prioritised by the team in terms of importance.
  • The agile project promotes collaborative working, especially with the customer. 
  • The agile project reflects, learns and adjusts at regular intervals to ensure that the customer is always satisfied and is provided with outcomes that result in benefits.
  • Agile methods integrate planning with execution, allowing an organisation to create a working mindset that helps a team respond effectively to changing requirements.                                                                                                                   Diagram Source: Directing Agile Change

More on agile principles

The practical adoption of scaled agile: Interview with Sue Clarke videos

This APM Research Fund study builds on the 2015 APM North West Volunteer study on the practical adoption of agile methodologies which provided a review of approaches at a project level, this study aims to investigate the level of practical adoption of those programme and portfolio components addressed by Scaled Agile methodologies. 

The objective of the study was to understand the extent to which scaled agile tools, techniques and roles are practically in place in corporate portfolio, programme, project and development management methodologies, to determine the level of corporate commitment to exploiting scaled agile, e.g. pilot, full use, selective based on need, as well as drivers for selection or deselection of the framework based on the overheads.

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Scaled agile research report

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Agile resources

Agile glossary

Do you know your Scrum from your Sprint? Read our handy glossary of popular agile terminology to find out what they mean.

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Knowledge paper

APM Agile Summit report

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Research paper

Does Agile work?

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Special focus

Project management: Agile

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Directing Agile Change 

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A Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery

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Practical Adoption of Agile Methodologies

The-Practical-Adoption-of-Agile-Methodologies 2015

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Agile and Earned Value

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