Part 1: Agile techniques and methods at a glance

Agile methods - where they come from, what they can do and who they are (particularly well) suited for. Our new blog series introduces you to the most popular agile methods and their fields of application.

Ing. Oliver Dragoun zPM, PcE

Ing. Oliver Dragoun zPM, PcE

493 words • 4 minutes

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Everyone wants to be agile - but what does that mean exactly? When we ask our customers, we often hear, "It's faster. I do not have to know exactly what I want to/should do. I do not need a plan. I am more flexible.” Well, not all of these claims make the very origin of agile methods. In this article you will learn more about the values behind agile approaches, what it means for organizations and which agile methods are of central importance for the dissemination and use of agile methods.

Figure 1: Classical project management planning vs. agile approach Figure 1: Classical project management planning vs. agile approach

Agile values

Let's go back about 20 years in time, to the year 2001. At that time, 17 experienced software developers (including Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland and Mike Beedle) met with the goal of finding common ground for an agile approach; this resulted in the Agile Manifesto, which is to be understood as a fundamental statement of values for the agile methods based on it. However, without wanting to discuss this manifesto in detail, it is important to know the underlying value system. On the one hand, this value system is based on all agile approaches and on the other, it can have a massive impact on affected organizations.

But what agile values are we talking about? Already a short excerpt makes direction clear, since it's about:

  • Self-organized, self-managed teams
  • Self-reflection
  • Focus is on customer satisfaction
  • Face-to-face communication
  • Changes to requirements are welcome
  • Support and trust

What does that mean for the organizations concerned? Imagine a company that has been traditionally (hierarchically) managed for many years: How easy is it in such a company to develop employees into self-organized teams without a leader? It could be the other way around in a young start-up. Here, the existing corporate culture could already be a very good basis for agile procedural models. It may already be apparent that agile process models are not just about well knowing and handling the methods and techniques, but also about generating the value system in the company as the basis for the methods.

To summerize:

  • Agile values are the foundation and the operational principles
  • Agile methods give agile techniques an overall structure
  • Agile techniques are specific proceedings for implementing agile methods.

Agile methods

There is a wealth of agile methods and you might feel that there is more every day. The survey "Status Quo Agile"1 has identified Scrum, Kanban, and Design Thinking as being of central importance for the dissemination and use of agile methods - and we would like to focus on these methods in our blog series.

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Source


  1. Status Quo Agile, Studie zu Verbreitung und Nutzen agiler Methoden, FH Koblenz 2015, https://www.gpm-ipma.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Know-How/studien/Studie_Agiles-PM_web.pdf, DL 25. 07. 2019 

Relevant Project Management Terms

Agile Project Management  

Agile project management is a collective term for different project management methods mainly originating from software development. Mostly they follow an iterative process, which means that the project is not planned and executed completely, but tasks and requirements are continuously rewritten allowing a more dynamic and flexible project management. Well-known agile project management methods include Kanban and Scrum.

Kanban Board  

Originally developed to support the production process, the kanban board often has three columns: "Open", "In progress" and "Completed". Work elements are usually represented as rectangles (physically, e.g. with sticky notes) and are located in the corresponding areas depending on their status. If the status of the work element has changed, it is moved to the corresponding area.

Scrum  

Scrum is an agile project management method, which is mainly used in software development. Scrum consists of a few rules that describe the so-called Core. The basic idea is that a project is not planned from start to finish, but development is iterative with short feedback loops, the so-called Sprints.

Glossary