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What is agile project management?

Updated: Nov 30, 2022


Agile project management is an iterative or incremental approach to project management. The project is broken up into several lifecycles allowing for adaptability along the way. Each lifecycle has a set of smaller requirements and prioritised for delivery.

One of the aims of agile project management is to release benefits along the way of the project rather than waiting until the end. An agile project will reflect, learn and adjust at regular intervals. Working collaboratively especially with the customer. Development can happen at speed and projects can respond better to market trends.

The increments in an agile project are called sprints. A sprint starts with a sprint planning meeting where the product owner and team identify what needs to be done and create a plan for accomplishing those tasks. Each sprint can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks and involve the design, development and quality assurance of a piece of work. Once a sprint is completed and signed off it should be ready to go live so the benefits can be seen.

Why agile is used and what are the benefits?

Agile was developed for software developers to move away from the traditional project management methods that could lack flexibility and adaptability. Such structured approaches in software development can result in projects going over budget and timescales. Agile allows for flexibility and learnings to be captured in each sprint.

Agile doesn’t have to be just used for software development though and a set of standards and methodology was created so people could use the techniques in other areas.

An agile approach encourages communication and engagement within the team but also with the customer. At each increment the work is discussed, changes can be made and benefits can be released. Increased communication can make the customer feel more involved and informed which in turn can increase customer satisfaction.

As you are working in increments it allows the project team to be more flexible and adapt to shifting requirements whilst still delivering to a reasonable time. Risk can also be reduced by focusing on each increment individually so you are able to highlight concerns quickly and make change. You have better visibility of the project and receiving feedback at each increment rather than at the end of the project where it may be too late to make changes.

What is the difference between agile and waterfall?

Four differences highlighted between agile and waterfall:

1. Collaboration with the customer

2. Interactive elements over processes and tools

3. Responding and acting on change rather than structured fixed plan

4. Prototyping over extensive documentation

A traditional waterfall project management will have a clearly defined and structured scope whereas an agile project will commit resource to a project over a set amount of time and define the detailed scope through cycles of development.

No way is right or wrong and of course they both have pros and cons. When assessing whether to start a project the right approach and methodology should be considered to understand what would be the best fit.


What is agile project lifecycle?

The agile process has 6 distinct stages. These being – pre-project, feasibility, foundations, evolutionary development, deployment, post project.

The first 3 are completed sequentially and form the concept of the project. The pre project ensures only the right projects are started. Feasibility and foundations set the ground rules for the iterative development.

During the evolutionary stage the project will evolve by building on the foundations established. This is where the sprints will happen to design and development a section of the product.

The deployment stage takes a baseline of the evolving solution and brings it into operational use. The customer will sign off the sprint (or make any changes) and the work can then be put into a live environment if suitable.

Once complete a post project review is done. The review ensures the expected benefits are being realised before moving onto the next spring and piece of work.


To Summarise agile project management is a type of project management methodology that focuses on the people and the work process. It is an iterative, incremental, adaptive and self-organizing methodology. The Agile Manifesto was created by software developers who were looking for a better way to manage projects in order to deliver high quality product at rapid speed.

The manifesto was created as a response to what they saw as overcomplicated approaches to managing software development projects.

Agile has been used for many different types of projects including web applications, construction, business process re-engineering or IT systems development.


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