Agile, Scrum, and Kanban Project Management
IT projects can be managed via a multitude of systems, the most popular being Agile, Scrum, and Kanban. It means that choosing the right one for your team and the project you are working on can potentially be a big challenge. In this blog post, we have gathered the principles of the Agile, Scrum, and Kanban management systems to help you understand the basic premises of using each of them and determine which one of them fits your team’s needs and preferences.
Agile as a project management system is a mindset rather than a rule book of unbreakable rules. Agile project management is flexible and should be adjusted to the needs of the team and project concerned. The characteristics of Agile project management:
- Plays down the importance of activities that are not directly related to the project outcome. This might include things such as fine detailed written contractual agreements, specifications, and change control negotiations.
- Allows pulling together required expertise under one team.
- Encourages integrated team development, allowing for side-by-side communication rather than hierarchical management.
- Recognizes that change is inevitable in a team or a business and IT projects must accommodate changes as part of a project rather than trying and forcing it through strict processes and procedures.
- Delivers smaller, verifiable components to a business/project rather than an overall, large-scale solution. This allows changes/improvements to be made on an as-we-go basis, helping avoid situations where large amounts of resources are being spent unnecessarily.
- Empowers individual software developers to make decisions within a structured change management environment.
- Attempts to eliminate the idea of a vast project plan that becomes set in stone and which subsequently precludes the realization of opportunities and individual innovation.
Organizations working by Agile methodologies develop products at a fast pace while simultaneously ensuring customer satisfaction. This tendency is driven by the realization that the nature of contemporary business can’t be encapsulated in the current market and when it comes to software development Agile project teams offer flat organizational structures.
The Scrum management framework relies on six basic principles and guidelines that *must be strictly followed* throughout every project. Scrum followers are rather inflexible and insist that each principle is respected and followed, eliminating or significantly lowering the potential of the team losing focus or the project suffering any setbacks and delays.
The six Scrum principles:
1. Control over the empirical process
The Scrum empirical process is based on observing hard evidence and experimentation rather than pursuing solutions based on theoretically predicted outcomes. There are three main ideas to the empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
As the Scrum process relies on many individuals, the self-organization abilities of each of the team members are essential. Everyone involved is empowered to work independently, and the self-organization principle allows for greater buy-in among all parties while making it easier to assess individual contributions.
Scrum is a collaborative process involving multiple individuals with varying roles. This principle also focuses on the three dimensions of collaboration: awareness, articulation, and appropriation.
4. Value-based prioritization
This principle involves organizing and prioritizing tasks based on their value and how they need to be completed.
In Scrum, tasks are completed in “bursts” set within specific time blocks assigned to each one. Other Scrum aspects, including “sprint planning” and daily check-in meetings, are also given specific start and stop times. Time-boxing ensures that all team members involved know how much time is allocated to each step, this solution allows for reducing wasted time and delays.
6. Iterative development
This final principle calls for the acknowledgment that a project may need to be tweaked multiple times during its development process. Iterative development allows the team to make adjustments and manage change more easily and flexibly.
Teamwork is KEY
To complete any project, you must rely on the contributions of the involved team. The team members don’t necessarily have to come from the same department – usually, project teams include members from all parts of the company – however, they all have to play a specified role in the project. The Scrum team is not built on a hierarchy; every member is treated equally to accomplish each objective.
Kanban Principles and Practices
Kanban is a common lean workflow management system. It helps to visualize work, maximize efficiency, and improve continuously. Tasks awaiting completion are represented on Kanban boards, allowing you to optimize work delivery between several teams and handle even the most complex projects in a single environment.
Change Management Principles
The Kanban change management system comes down to placing its principles on top of the already establishes processes rather than completely exchanging them. This allows both solutions to blend in a non-disruptive way, making it possible for changes to occur naturally and making space for continuous improvement.
1. Start With What You Do Now
Kanban allows flexibility to use the method in combination with established workflows, systems, and processes without disrupting what is already in place. The method recognizes that functioning processes, roles, responsibilities, and titles hold value and are, generally, worth holding on to, while naturally, highlighting issues that need to be addressed.
2. Agree to Pursue Incremental, Evolutionary Change
The Kanban method is designed to trigger minimal resistance and encourage continuous improvement and change to the current process by implementing collaboration and feedback loops. It’s important to remember that sweeping changes are generally discouraged because they usually encounter resistance due to fear or uncertainty.
3: Encourage Acts of Leadership at All Levels
All leadership derives from people’s everyday insights and inclinations to improve their work. As insignificant as it may seem, every contributed observation powers the general mindset of continuous improvement (Kaizen) resulting in optimal performance on a team/department/company level. Such actions can’t be a management-level activity.
Service Delivery Principles
The Kanban service delivery system aims at developing a service-oriented approach. It requires that you have a deep understanding of your customer’s needs allowing you to create a service network where the team organizes itself around the work, and ensure that the system continuously evolves according to current needs.
1. Focus on Customer Needs and Expectations
Delivering value to customers should be at the center of each organization. Understanding the needs and expectations of your customers brings attention to the quality of the provided services and the value it creates.
2. Manage the Work
Managing the work awaiting completion in the network of services allows space for the team members to organize around the work. At the same time, you focus on the outcomes created instead of micro-managing the people delivering the services.
3. Regularly Review the Network of Services
Once developed, a service-oriented approach requires continuous evaluation to foster a customer service culture. Through the use of regular reviews of the network of services and assessment of the applied work policies, Kanban encourages the improvement of the delivered results.
To fully understand Kanban, it is important to not only understand its principles but also its core practices:
1. Visualize the Workflow
To improve the workflow, one must first understand it, for example by visualizing it. That is often done by breaking down the process into individual steps and visualizing their statuses on a Kanban board. This solution allows quick identification of delays.
2. Limit Work in Progress
Multitasking and frequent switching between tasks can be an obstacle and a threat to project efficiency. A confusing number of tasks can lead to the team overlooking problems.
3. Manage Flow
The basic idea of the Kanban system is to establish a smooth project flow through the planned process. We want to enable speedy progress and prevent stalling. Using appropriate metrics (e.g., lead time) to understand the system and how to disrupt it.
4. Explicit Policies
The process must be clearly defined and discussed within the team. People do not participate in actions of which usefulness they cannot see or understand. Only when all team members share the same goal is it possible to facilitate significant, positive change.
In Kanban, feedback is formalized and implemented in three axes:
- within the team,
- between teams,
- between team members and their coach or manager.
Continuous monitoring and mentoring are encouraged, as they promote a culture of learning.
6. Continuous Improvement
The path to continuous improvement runs through a shared vision of a better future and a shared understanding of the problems needing to be addressed. Improvements increase in scope and impact over time, simultaneously increasing trust for the team and the organization.
Kanban is a versatile method that can be used in both classic and agile approaches. With the help of the principles and practices, you can significantly improve your work processes. Kanban is an ideal method for optimizing projects and can be used incredibly well in product development.
The management system you choose should be decided upon based on the project at hand and the team involved. All three of the management systems described above can significantly improve your team’s workflow and efficiency regarding time and other resources.
Even though the project management system and principles you decide to follow are key, it may also be worth considering the use of tools that will help to implement and fully benefit from following the chosen management system. The Floway workflow automation system may be exactly what you’ll need to take your projects to the next level.
Amongst having other features, Floway allows you to:
- build workflows of any length and difficulty. Loops, a conditional divergence of processes, custom notifications – it’s all here. Automate your business mechanisms and save time.
- manage processes. Use our flow templates or create your processes. Set up a custom notification system for a smooth information stream.
Sounds interesting? Be sure to request a Floway demo to test our solutions for yourself.