Interested in becoming an agile project manager? Well, Career Karma is going to give you a hand understanding the difference between the strict requirements of waterfall and the more adaptive agile. If you are already a project manager and you want to work more closely with people, then keep reading.
This article will guide you through the agile manifesto, what Scrum is, and the difference between management as an iterative, increment, or agile approach. We also suggest courses for agile project management (APM) and give you the average salaries for project managers.
What Is Agile Project Management?
In college, you may have learned to create projects using a software development cycle like waterfall. Waterfall works in a rigorous way. For example, it creates a contract with the product owner that you don’t deviate from or a plan for the project that you follow and can’t change halfway through. Compared to agile, it takes more time to develop software using waterfall, sometimes up to a year or more.
The problem with waterfall comes when your client is trying to compete with another similar software. In that year of development, the competition will have come up with new features and remain more popular than your client. Additionally, if the customer asks for changes during the testing phase, implementing those changes could be hard.
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On the other hand, Agile project management is all about awareness, flexibility, and speedy turnover. With agile methods like Scrum, Kanban, and XP, collaboration with the customer is the focus.
At the beginning of a project, an agile project manager is aware that there is a lot they don’t know and cannot plan for, so they work with the customer to take it step-by-step and change the plan as they go.
Agile facilitates the implementation of new features requested by the customer. Agile projects are based on 12 principles. To see these in full detail, go to agilemanifesto.org. Otherwise, here is our breakdown of the 12 agile approaches:
Agile Manifesto’s 12 Principles
- Provide continuous improvement and delivery of valuable software
- Welcome changing customer requirements throughout the development
- A preference for delivering working software in shorter timeframes
- Business people and developers working side-by-side daily
- Focus projects on motivated individuals, supporting and trusting them to get the job done
- Working with teams face-to-face, instead of by phone or online
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Maintaining a constant pace throughout to promote sustainable development
- Attention to technical and design excellence
- Simplicity is essential; working on what is important and what needs to get done
- The best requirements, architectures, and designs come from self-organizing teams. Nobody forces the team to work. Instead, the team works together toward goals
- After every sprint (scrum), the team should reflect on what needs to be improved and adjust accordingly
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is the most widespread method for agile projects and management. This framework consists of prioritizing software development requirements, planning sprints, product backlogs, and getting a team together to work on the increments. Then the teams begin working on the sprints (timeframes of one to four weeks) to deliver some working software to the product owners.
Examples of Agile Team Members:
- Scrum Master: His/her duties include creating the right environment so that the team works effectively, maintaining a good relationship between the product owner and the team, and ensuring the project runs smoothly and members’ needs are met.
- Agile Project Manager: Unlike in traditional approaches to project management, this member does not organize the team or plan the entire project. Instead, an APM does some planning for individual sprints, using issue resolution, problem-solving, and team building as its main managerial skills.
- Team Members: Teams are usually small and organize themselves and the work that needs to get done. Members are multi-functional individuals who can do a range of tasks, from software development to testing, and design.
In Scrum, you have helpful organizational tools called boards, and the Scrum board shows the tasks the team needs to complete, per increment or sprint. These are usually separated into a few sections—such as Story, To Do, In Progress, To Verify, and Complete—to make it easy for teams to see their tasks. The steps required for each task is clearly shown, making the team self-sufficient.
The Difference Between Iterative, Incremental, and Agile
To put it simply, you use the waterfall method when you know the scope and the requirements of a project. When the size and requirements are more complex or unknown, the iterative, incremental and agile approaches can be used.
- Iterative Approach: The requirements are not obvious at the beginning of a project. Much like carving a sculpture, a basic framework of the software is created and slowly refined in a sequence of iterations, until the software is complete.
- Incremental Approach: The difference with increments is that during the ‘sculpting’ or development process, increments of features are delivered to the product owner to test them. These features and increments are then improved upon until the last increment is delivered.
- Agile Approach: The agile process uses the website or software refinement of the iterative approach and the feature increments of the incremental approach, effectively combining the two to help solve complex projects. This approach also adds in tracking progress, in which the team reviews itself to improve.
Training for Agile Project Management
Even if you already have a PMP (Project Manager Professional) certification, you may still need to do additional training in Agile. Whether you are looking into an associate degree, master’s degree, or a professional certificate, here are some great options for you to begin your research:
Professional Certificate: Agile Project and Delivery Management
ICAgile’s certification offers knowledge on the fundamentals of agile like adaptive planning, customer collaboration, and dynamic value-driven delivery. The course takes two or three days and is geared toward traditional project managers looking to move into agile.
Professional Certificate: Agile Project Management Practitioner
To secure an AgilePM certificate, you will need to obtain an AgilePM Foundation certificate first. Depending on the course, it can take anywhere from three to five days. The certificate doesn’t expire.
Professional Certificate: Lean and Agile Project Management
Strategyex has numerous certificates, including associate and master’s degrees. You can take online and in-person classes to discover a range of agile and lean concepts. They also have specific courses for Scrum, scheduling, and cost management, among others.
Certificate: SAFe Scrum Master SSM
SSM is a three-day course that provides the fundamentals of team-level Scrum. This is for those who have their APM certificate and want to move on to become a Scrum master. They also do Agile Product Management courses that are popular.
Salary and Job Outlook for Agile Project Managers
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track Agile project managers (APM), but it states a computer and information manager can be earning a median salary of $146,360. As for the market, there will be an 11 percent growth from 2018-2028 in jobs, so APM would be a great career to pursue. Here is a look at some specific roles and their salaries in more detail:
- Agile Coach – $136,000
- Senior Agile Project Manager – $125,000
- Project Manager/ Scrum Master – $120,000
- Scrum Master: $100,000
- Agile Project Manager – $92,139
- Software Developer – $110,000
Should I Become an Agile Project Manager in 2020?
If you are already pursuing a project manager role, and the agile manifesto seems like a framework you would love to implement, then you should definitely consider it. The job outlook and salary are great and it’s a relatively short training. Even if you do not end up taking an agile project manager role, you may still benefit from knowing both modalities.
If Scrum and other methods interest you, and if working in a more collaborative environment sounds ideal, then it may be time to look into APM courses. We at Career Karma hope this guide has helped you and wish you every success.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.