Agile project management is pioneering intelligence projects
At M-Brain, we love keeping our ears to the ground to help us and our customers find better ways of doing things. And as an enterprise leading the race in media and market intelligence, we’re forever fascinated with the interesting ways that complex project management methods are evolving.
In a highly complex business world, customer and market needs can be a constantly evolving force. Meaning that as intelligence projects progress, once clearly defined objectives can quickly become diluted or even defunct. And just as technologies and resources fast evolve in this modern world, so also must the methods through which we utilise and manage them.
This has led to the increasingly popular adoption of a number of interesting project management methods, originating from some quite unexpected industries. The one in particular that appears to be spearheading interest has been branded Agile methodology and appears to have originated through software development.
What is Agile project management?
Agile project management originated as an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build activities for engineering, information technology, and development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner. The concept was first floated in 2001 by a group of software developers in the United States as an alternative to the waterfall methodology.
The Waterfall method follows a distinct, linear path that stretches from analysis to implementation through to testing and maintenance and every step must be completed before you can begin the next. You’re given your brief, you go away, you design, you build, you test, deploy and present. If this method seems familiar, that’s because it is. The Waterfall method is still very much in use and has its advantages: It’s very simple and very easy to manage owing to its rigid structure.
That said, it’s not without its problems, particularly where the brief requirements are subject to change and can be difficult to go back through the steps once complete. Because working results are produced late in the project cycle, this method places a high onus on original requirements being correctly defined and current. If not, the result can be a lot of further time and lost work. It’s as a response to these problems that the Agile methodology was developed. Agile methodology is an iterative process and, as such, is much more fluid and responsive than waterfall methods.
Agile development involves creating a log of requests that are worked in in rapid work cycles (or sprints), with regular, brief reviews to assess progress, current objectives and adapt as needed.
Within sprint cycles, processes are created (or code written in software) and tasks completed swiftly and reviewed throughout the development process to changing needs. Quality assurance is completed in tandem with completing tasks to ensure a continual process of progress and benchmarking.
The Agile methods’ main goal is to develop projects (or software) that meet objectives in a timely fashion where the brief can be hard to define at the outset without tangible prototypes or the variables of the subject may be constantly in flux.
The evolution of Agile methodologies
Since 2001, a steady adoption of some of Agile’s tenets have been seen into almost every area of business and project management, all benefiting from shorter iterative release cycles and continuous improvement through the feedback methodology.
Using short cycles with continuous testing and benchmarking has clear and considerable advantages including:
- Greater visibility
- Risk reduction
- Time & cost efficiency
- Enhanced collaboration
- Closer project alignment to goals
- Smoother execution
In addition to project management, the Agile method can also be applied to tasks on a micro scale; such as marketing content creation.
It certainly looks like Agile as a methodology is here to stay and is already being adapted to suit the specific needs of various industries. It’s fluid structure and focus on continuous feedback and adaptation offers impressive benefits for managers of any project.
We are noticing greater adoption in the management of market intelligence management projects and this area fascinating to see how these methodologies will evolve from here.
By Paul Clarke
Intelligence Best Practices