What is agile project managementWhat are agile methods/ what are agile methodologies

Agile is a family of development methodologies where requirements and solutions are developed iteratively and incrementally throughout the project life cycle. Agile methods integrate planning with execution, allowing an organisation to create a working mindset that helps a team respond effectively to these changing requirements.

Agile does not prescribe one particular way of working. Rather it provides a framework which describes a collection of tools, structure, culture and discipline to enable a project or programme to embrace changes in requirements.

  • The agile, or iterative, project promotes collaborative working, especially with the customer. This involves the customer being embedded in the team, providing the team with constant and regular feedback on deliverables and functionality of the end product.
  • The best agile approaches are very disciplined and can, and should, be integrated into corporate procedures such as governance.
  • An agile project's defining characteristic is that it produces and delivers work in short bursts (or Sprints) of anything up to a few weeks. These are repeated to refine the working deliverable until it meets the client's requirements.

Examples of agile methodologies

There are several methodologies that can be used to manage an agile project; three of the most popular being Kanban, Scrum and Lean.

Where traditional project management will establish a detailed plan and detailed requirements at the start then attempt to follow the plan, agile starts work with a rough idea of what is required and by delivering something in a short period of time, clarifies the requirements as the project progresses.

These frequent iterative processes are a core characteristic of an agile project and, because of this way of working, collaborative relationships are established between stakeholders and the team members delivering the work.

Here are some more agile methodologies:

  • DAD (disciplined agile delivery) – a process-decision framework.
  • DSDM, or dynamic systems development method – agile development methodology, now changed to the ‘DSDM project management framework’.
  • Kanban – a method for managing work, with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery.
  • Kanban board – a work and workflow visualisation tool which summarises the status, progress, and issues related to the work.
  • Lean – a method of working focused on ‘eliminating waste’ by avoiding anything that does not produce value for the customer.
  • LeSS (large-scale Scrum) – agile development method.
  • RAD (rapid application development) – agile development method; enables developers to build solutions quickly by talking directly to end users to meet business requirement.
  • SAFe (scaled agile framework enterprise) – agile methodology used for software development.
  • Scaled agile – agile scaled up to large projects or programmes, for example by having multiple sub-projects, creating tranches of projects, etc.
  • Scrum – an agile methodology commonly used in software development, where regular team meetings review progress of a single development phase (or Sprint).  
  • Scrum of scrums – a technique to operate Scrum at scale, for multiple teams working on the same product.
  • XP (eXtreme Programming) – agile development methodology used in software development; allows programmers to decide the scope of deliveries.

Agile terminology can be confusing. Our handy glossary is here to help.

Read the glossary

Further resources

Why do you need agile in project management?    RESOURCE  
Agile is a philosophy that concentrates on empowered people and their interactions. Read about the benefits and when to adopt the agile approach... read more

What is agile project management?     RESOURCE  
This article gives answers the question at the beating heart of agile project management terminology and how it is defined... read more

Practical Adoption of Agile Methodologies: APM Volunteer Research Report     RESOURCE  
Written by the APM North West branch, this report is a review of the practical adoption of agile methodology in project management, focused in the North West... read more


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