Agile Project Management in IT Projects
Greater benefits with less risk through agile development.
Realize websites with sprints: Agile projects
When implementing web projects, classical project management is frequently confronted by its limits. Not only due to the short innovation cycles and the dynamics of the Internet is a long-term and detailed planning of IT projects difficult. Users' demands are also constantly changing in the Internet age.
To be able to realize websites that satisfy the needs of customers and users, agile project management follows new paths. Infopark has been successfully applying the various techniques of agile website development for years to produce customized websites.
Why conventional project management runs up against a wall
Frequently a detailled planning is created for web projects, including all the steps and functions to be implemented. This approach is, however, rarely successful. Almost every fifth project (18 percent) fails, almost half of the projects exceed their budgets excessively and miss their deadlines completely, according to the results of the Chaos Study conducted by the Standish Group on the success rates of IT projects.
The reason? The so-called "waterfall method", in which all the steps and results are prescribed, is seldom suitable for software projects. This is due to the fact that, on the one hand, many of the requirements are unforeseeable and, on the other hand, the real effort of the individual steps can hardly be predicted. Furthermore, the knowledge gained in the course of the project is not integrated in the subsequent implementation process often enough. As a result of the strong division of labor, the persons involved in the projects concentrate too much on their own tasks, losing track of the forest for the trees. There is too little communication amongst the parties.
Adaptive planning – in small steps to successful websites
The agile website development is based on the principle ideas of the Agile Manifesto that were formulated in the beginning of 2001. According to these principles, the fulfilment of the customer's needs has the greatest priority. It is not the means of implementation that matters, but rather the targeted final status and the benefits associated with that.
In contrast to classical website development in which the various phases such as needs analysis, draft, test and programming are completed sequentially, in agile projects the planning is adaptive; based on prototypes created as early as possible, the new website is continuously planned, tested, adapted and further developed.
Prerequisite to this is that at the beginning of the project a needs analysis is performed jointly with the customer and the fundamental project objectives defined. The individual goals are described in so-called stories following the pattern of "As xxx, I can xxx, so as to xxx". The implementation of these stories is realized according to their priority in short, overseeable steps, the so-called sprints.
Advantages of agile project management for the realization of websites
- The objectives are defined clearly and realistically on the basis of understandable performance characteristics.
- The priorities are determined by the necessity, the benefit and the risks of the individual functions. Necessary functions with greater benefit and low risk are implemented first.
- The implementation of the website project is completed in closed working packages with overseeable planning horizons.
- The phased approach in sprints allows for regular checks of targets and fast feedback about the web project's requirements.
- Thanks to small, interdisciplinary teams, developers, designers and customers work closely together, and flexible adaptation of the requirements is possible.
Sprints & feedback-loops: Constant optimization of the characteristics
Together with our customers, we at Infopark prioritize the stories. First of all those requirements are implemented that provide the greatest benefit with the least possible effort. The sprint backlog developed on the basis of these criteria contains the stories that are implemented in the current sprint.
The end of every sprint forms a new, executable version of the website. Together with the customer, the subsequent acceptance test serves to determine if the defined requirements have been satisfied and which functions are to be implemented in the next sprint. Thanks to these feedback loops we are in a position to continuously improve the product attributes. Beyond that this provides an early indication of whether the originally formulated targets need to be modified or abandoned because the expected benefits are too low