Managing project tasks is not easy, especially if you’re still using traditional project management methods. The challenges in today’s projects render these antiquated methods inefficient, leading to delays, miscommunications, and missed deadlines. To achieve project goals and objectives nowadays, it is essential to update your methods by using the agile workflow.
This project management approach emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. It is a process that breaks down projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, allowing teams to increase productivity, resulting in better efficiency and effectiveness. This article provides a step-by-step guide to creating an agile workflow to help your organization complete projects faster and more effectively.
Identifying Project Goals and Objectives
The first step to create an agile workflow is to know what you wish to achieve with your project. This step requires you to understand your project scope, define project deliverables, and determine who the stakeholders are. The answers to these questions depend on the project at hand.
If you’re developing SaaS software, you need to address its scope by figuring out what problem you’re solving with its features and functionality. Next, break down your software development process into smaller tasks and assign them to their appropriate departments for completion. Finally, inform upper management regarding the project timeline, budget, and potential issues you’ll encounter to keep them in the loop.
By analyzing your project this way, you are already ahead of the curve. Only 35% of companies complete projects due to their knowledge of project management tech and its best practices. Your organization can be one of the elite few.
Defining User Stories and Acceptance Criteria
User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature or functionality from the user's perspective. Acceptance criteria are the conditions that must be met for a user story to be considered complete. Here's an example of a hypothetical user story in agile workflow for a travel app:
“As a frequent traveler, I want to be able to view my flight itinerary and receive real-time updates on any changes so that I can stay informed and adjust my plans accordingly.”
Using this story, you can use the following acceptance criteria for your app features:
- View all the details of their upcoming flights, including the flight number, departure and arrival times, and gate information.
- Receive real-time notifications with updated information, such as flight schedule changes.
- Easily view the updated flight itinerary and adjust my plans accordingly due to these changes.
These acceptance criteria clearly define what constitutes a "done" user story and serve as your success metrics. They specify the conditions that must be met for the user story to be considered complete and accepted by the product owner. By using acceptance criteria in this way, your team can ensure they meet the user’s needs and are developing the software to align with the project's goals.
Creating a Backlog
A backlog refers to a list of user stories that you must complete to achieve the project goals and objectives. Constantly update the backlog throughout the project as you add new user stories and remove completed user stories. To keep the backlog updated, you must prioritize user stories based on their importance to the project goals.
This process involves using prioritization frameworks, such as MoSCoW prioritization (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won't have) or a similar method. Next, estimate the effort required to complete each user story. This estimation involves using a technique such as story points or time-based estimates.
Defining Sprint Goals
One of the biggest project management mistakes is mismanaged priorities. To prevent this from happening, you need to identify your project’s sprint goals.
Sprints are short periods (usually 1-4 weeks) during which the team works on a specific set of user stories. The objectives that the team aims to achieve during each sprint are called sprint goals. Your sprint goals depend on the tasks you wish to complete. To help you determine what you want to achieve with each, spy back to your project goals.
Refer to these goals to develop a sprint goal that is neither too broad nor too narrow and should be achievable within the Sprint timeline. You also need to get input and feedback from the development team, as they are the ones who will be responsible for delivering the sprint goal for you. Once everything is in place, you can use product management or CRM tools to organize these tasks, assign them to your team members, and oversee their progress.
Implementing Agile Development Practices
With the sprint plan in place, the team can begin implementing agile development practices. These practices include the following:
- Continuous Integration (CI) - Code changes are frequently and automatically integrated into a shared repository. This practice helps identify and resolve issues early in the development, reducing the risk of bugs and conflicts.
- Continuous Delivery - Software is frequently and automatically deployed to production. This practice ensures that the software is always up-to-date and that new features and functionality are available to users as soon as possible.
- Continuous Testing - Instead of testing being a separate phase at the end of the development cycle, integrate it throughout the entire process. It involves testing early, often, and automatically, to identify and fix defects as early as possible in the development process.
By following these best practices, your team can get the most out of their productivity, which helps them produce high-quality software that meets the user's needs.
Meetings are vital in an agile workflow as they help keep everything on track. Unlike traditional meetings, agile meetings use the scrum framework by being quick, fast, and to the point. This approach means you maximize your time planning for the tasks ahead and have more time to execute them. Also, 75% of businesses use this framework, further crediting Scrum as an effective way to address complex meeting problems.
Below are different meetings you can implement as part of your workflow.
- Sprint Planning - Reviews the backlog, selects the user stories you will work on during the sprint, and defines the tasks you must complete to achieve the sprint goals.
- Daily Stand-up - Provides an update on the team’s work from the previous day and discusses what they plan to work on today, and any issues or roadblocks they face. Despite being held every day, these meetings are short — usually 15 minutes or less.
- Sprint Retrospective - Discusses what went well during the sprint, what didn't, and what the team can improve in the next sprint. Use this feedback to continuously improve the agile workflow and ensure that the team works as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Creating an effective agile workflow for projects can be a complex process. Still, by following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that you’re working towards the project goals and objectives efficiently and effectively.
By embracing agile workflow, you can break down projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, improve communication and collaboration, and continuously improve the project as it progresses.
About the author:
Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer for hire specializing in digital marketing. His work has been published on SEO and affiliate marketing-specific niches like Monitor Backlinks, Niche Pursuits, and Web Hosting Secret Revealed.
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