One of the basic elements of agile project management according to AgilePM methodology is a set of eight principles. Failure to comply with one of the principles generates unnecessary risks for the project and may lead to failure to achieve the desired result. Principles helps to implement the project according to Agile values and philosophy. In this article we explain all the principles and present what they mean in practice for the Project Manager and project team members.
- Principle 1- Focus on the Business Need
Each decision made in the project should be analysed in terms of the project’s supreme objective – meeting business needs. The task of the Project Manager is to ensure that team members understand and respect business priorities. The use of prioritisation techniques will helpful. AgilePM recommends to use MoSCoW technique (Must have, Should have, Could have , Won’t have this time). Project Manager should also ensure that a credible business case is developed and that a Minimum Usable SubseT is provided.
- Principle 2 – Deliver on Time
Delivering a solution on time is often the most important factor determining the success of a project. According to this principle, the Project Manager should ensure a proper division of work into timeboxes and focus on business priorities, as well as building trust through predictable delivery. Late delivery can undermine the whole point of the project!
- Principle 3 – Collaborate
Teams supported by a culture of cooperation will always perform better than a group of loosely connected people. The third principle: Collaborate emphasizes this very clearly. Cooperation facilitates mutual understanding, increases the pace of work and creates a sense of shared responsibility for the solution. According to this principle, the Project Manager should take care of ensuring that the relevant stakeholders are involved at the right time during the project and that team members encourage business representatives to participate and build a culture of one team, i. e. “one for all, all for one”.
- Principle 4 – Never Compromise Quality
In the AgilePM approach, the quality of the delivered solution should be established at the very beginning of the project. The works in the project should be aimed at achieving this specific quality level (not higher and not lower). This principle requires team members to determine the desired level of product quality before they can start development. The Project Manager should ensure that the product is tested early and systematically and that quality does not become a design variable.
- Principle 5 – Build Incrementally from Firm Foundations
Establishing a solid foundation for the project is a key aspect. AgilePM suggests to understand the scope of the business problem needed to be solved and the proposed solution without going into unnecessary (in the initial phase) details. Too detailed analysis of requirements can paralyse the project. Once the basis for development has been established, the solution should be built incrementally – so as to provide real business value. Increased delivery inspires trust among stakeholders and encourages feedback.
- Principle 6 – Develop Iteratively
This principle uses the practice of iterative development. In combination with frequent demonstrations of a working product and a comprehensive overview, it guarantees timely feedback and systematic changes. The Project Manager is to ensure that the Solution Development Team can get feedback from the business for each iteration. It is also his responsibility to make the team aware of the fact that details will emerge at later stages of production and to ensure that the changes necessary for the evolution of the solution are introduced.
- Principle 7 – Communicate Continuously and Clearly
Insufficient communication often leads to project failure. The seventh principle is to improve the effectiveness of communication between teams and individuals. In practice this means that the Project Manager should ensure that agile practices are used to ensure proper communication in the project. These include modelling, workshops, daily stand-ups and timeboxing. In addition, Principle 7 obliges transparency and honesty inside and outside the team, which promotes constructive communication. We should remember that project documentation should be kept concise and timely, and we only create it when it gives value.
- Principle 8 – Demonstrate Control
Demonstrating control is about open and honest presentation what stage of development the solution is actually at and what team actions are taken to meet a business need. The task of the Project Manager is to ensure that team members make project plans and progress visible and measure them by focusing on the products delivered. It is also necessary to have a project-specific level of formalisation for monitoring and reporting on progress, so that the validity of the measures can be assessed on an ongoing basis.
Knowing and understanding the principles is one thing, but applying them in practice is a completely different matter. How to take care of their actual implementation in project life? Above all, make the principles visible and perceived as important by all. Also encourage colleagues to report when any of the principles are violated. It is worth thinking about organizing workshops at the beginning of the project, which will determine how to follow the principles.
More about principles you can learn during training course AgilePMⓇ Foundation.