A common day-to-day occurrence among project managers is dealing with Agile challenges. Whether you’ve just started learning Agile project management or are an Agile expert, the many challenges Agile project managers face come with the territory. As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours.
Agile teams have their work cut out for them, whether they’re working on an Agile software development project or are in some other line of work. The fact of the matter is that Agile project management problems can rear their heads anywhere. Keep reading to learn how to face the most common Agile challenges head-on.
Challenges Agile Project Managers Face Daily
Being a project manager for an Agile team is not an easy task. There are many Agile challenges that you must overcome to ensure successful day-to-day operations. At a higher level, some companies struggle to adopt Agile practices as they undergo Agile transformations. Below are the major challenges that Agile project managers and Agile organizations face.
Common Agile Management Problems
- Scope creep
- Lack of communication
- Undefined goals and success criteria
- Budgeting problems
- Inexperienced team members
Common Agile Project Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Scope creep is one of the most common Agile challenges. It occurs when the scope of a project expands beyond what was originally agreed upon. This can happen when new features are added, requirements are changed, or the project is poorly managed. Agile project management problems caused by scope creep include delays, cost overruns, and poor quality.
Solution: Define the Project’s Goals
The best way to avoid scope creep is to have a clear and concise definition of the project’s goals. This should be agreed upon by all parties. Once the scope is defined, it is important to stick to it. If changes need to be made, they should be made in a way that does change the scope.
Lack of Communication
Lack of communication is another common Agile challenge. This can happen for various reasons, such as team members working in different locations. When an Agile team does not communicate effectively, it leads to confusion, delays, and an unhappy customer base.
Solution: Develop a Communication Plan
The best way to avoid communication problems is to have clear and concise communication protocols. The communication plan should address how the entire organization will communicate, what methods will be used, and what information will be communicated. Effective communication makes it easier for managers to achieve the goals of iterative development.
Undefined Goals and Success Criteria
Another common challenge in Agile project management is poorly defined deliverables. When the project’s goals are not well understood, it is impossible for team members to discharge their separate functions in a focused way. When nobody knows what success looks like for a given project, the team might put in inconsistent effort and make sporadic progress.
Solution: Get Everyone’s Input
The best way to avoid undefined goals and success criteria is to involve everyone in the Agile process. Once everyone has given their input, senior management should come up with a set of standards and outcomes that satisfies everyone. If changes need to be made, they should be made with the established goals and success criteria in mind.
Budgeting problems are another real challenge. An Agile development team might squander time and money when one or more team members do not understand Agile practices, or when development efforts come up against changes in requirements. If deadlines aren’t met, customer satisfaction is at risk. If budgets aren’t kept, the product owners will be unhappy.
Solution: Use a Project Scheduling Tool
A good project scheduling tool can help the team make realistic projections and avoid cost overruns. When the project scope and the budget are properly aligned, and when everything is well documented, organizations are able to avoid a badly budgeted project. Team members report more positive experiences when they have a series of deadlines and cost estimates.
Inexperienced Team Members
A system is only as good as its weakest link, and the success of project teams relies heavily on contributions from team members of varying skill levels. Simply put, your development project will fail if your team lacks the proper training to solve the problem. This is a major project management issue that the entire team can only overcome with the right Agile approach.
Solution: Provide Clear Guidelines
Agile leaders must provide clear guidelines to every member of their team regarding responsibilities and deadlines. The entire team must be on the same page about Agile processes. At the same time, everyone must understand their role and have their own performance targets. If all else fails, you can always hire more skilled personnel.
Useful Agile Project Management Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier as an Agile Project Manager
|Active Collab||Budget problems||Budget tracking, detailed reports, profitability insights||$0 for basic plan; $7.50 per 3 users per month for Plus Plan; $6.25 per user per month for Pro Plan|
|Jira||Scope creep||Scrum sprint planning, time tracking||$0 for basic plan, $7.50 per user per month for standard plan, $14.50 per user per month for enterprise plan|
|Kanbanize||Inexperienced team members||Team member monitoring, time tracking logs, visual progress reports||$149 per month per 15 users for annual subscribers, $179 per month per 15 users for monthly subscribers|
|Pivotal Tracker||Undefined goals and success criteria||Visual representations of your team’s work, automated workflows, collaborative task management||$0 for basic plan, $10 per 10 users per month for Startup Plan, $6.50 per user per month for Standard Plan|
|Wrike||Lack of communication||Sharable workflows, ready-built templates, progress reports, organized feedback||$0 for basic plan; $9.80 per user per month for standard plan; $24.80 per user per month for business plan|
Resources to Overcome Agile Management Challenges and Become a Better Professional
- Test Rail. This is one of the many software programs that offer a variety of features to make project management easier. Test Rail is specifically designed for Agile software testers, who use it to keep track of all the tests that have been run and to keep all collaborators on the same page.
- Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos. Books are another great way to learn Agile project management, and this book offers one clear-eyed approach to overcoming Agile challenges. The authors dispel myths about the Agile methodology and explain how businesses can implement it the right way.
- Agile and Scrum Bootcamp. This free online workshop, offered by General Assembly, uses the Agile methodology known as Scrum to analyze Agile project management problems that arise in software development. General Assembly is one of the many coding bootcamps that incorporate Agile into their curricula.
- Agile Leadership Principles and Practices. This edX course is for Agile project managers who are struggling with their role as leaders, which is among the challenges Agile project managers face. Students will learn communication, delegation, and negotiating tactics for managing large Agile teams.
- Project Management Institute (PMI). This professional organization accepts all sorts of project managers as members, but its resources for Agile project managers are particularly robust. You can browse white papers, find educational opportunities, and sign up for Agile certifications that can go on your resume if you pass the exams.
Is Becoming an Agile Project Manager a Good Career Choice?
Yes, becoming a project manager who understands Agile practices is a good career move. Many companies have realized the benefits of Agile implementation, such as being able to keep better track of schedules and budgets. Agile development teams are more efficient than teams that use other methods, which makes Agile project managers extremely valuable.
Agile Project Manager’s Salary and Job Outlook
The average salary for an Agile Project Manager is $92,139, according to PayScale. Project managers will also be in higher demand in the next ten years than workers in other occupations. The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that the use of project managers is predicted to rise by 33 percent by 2027.
Next Steps in Your Agile Journey
Countless organizations are undergoing Agile transformations. While there are several challenges that Agile project managers face while adjusting to the transition, you can overcome Agile challenges with the proper training and support. An Agile bootcamp, the right tool, or a trusted online resource can help revolutionize project management at your workplace.
Agile Management Challenges FAQ
Agile project management is a set of principles and processes used to navigate a team through a complex project. It’s based on the idea that teams should be able to change quickly to changing requirements. Most commonly, Agile challenges are solved through an iterative process by which individual team members test new ideas and adapt them as needed.
Agile project management is important because it helps teams deliver better products more efficiently. Agile’s core practices improve communication and reduce the risk of failure. When implemented correctly, Agile approaches play a key role in helping cross-functional teams increase productivity and improve quality while reducing costs.
The biggest drawback to Agile project management is that it requires a lot of skill and discipline to implement. Lack of documentation can be a problem, and the need for experienced practitioners to fill these management roles can cause hiccups in the hiring process. If your company finds the right person, however, your team can solve even the biggest challenges.
Agile project management is used in a variety of industries and businesses. It is especially popular in software development, where it leads to fast and flexible delivery of project outcomes. In just about any industry, however, both small-scale and large-scale organizations can use the Agile methodology for quick and adaptable project management.
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