Overview of the Agile Approach

The PMP exam now contains about 50% of Agile questions. Therefore it is essential to understand Agile. This article provides an overview of the Agile approach to help PMP aspirants gain knowledge on what Agile is about.

According to the Agile Practice Guide; Agile is a blanket term that refers to any kind of approach, technique, framework, method, or practice that fulfills the values and principles of the Agile manifesto.

What is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile manifesto and mindset focuses on these four statements:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over comprehensive documentation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

From the above, we can see a clear difference between the predictive or waterfall approach and the adaptive or agile approach.

The predictive or waterfall approach knows the full scope at the beginning, creating a plan to deliver on the full scope, and following the plan. This approach is also very resistant to change in scope because that could alter the plan. 

Agile is focused on customer collaboration and getting feedback from customers to further modify the project outcome. The approach also focused on people and a self-organizing team.

When and why should you use the Agile approach?

Projects with high uncertainty around the scope, requirements, and approach to fulfilling the project requirements or objectives benefit from the agile approach. This is because high uncertainties mean high rates of change, risk, and project complexity.

Hence the need for an approach that allows the project team to tackle such projects via small increments of work so that they can get feedback on the work done and implement any change as required.

Agile roles

There are three main roles in Agile, they are:

  • Cross-functional team members
  • Product owner
  • Team facilitator

Types of Agile 

  • Iteration – based Agile e.g. Scrum
  • Flow-based Agile e.g. Kanban

Scrum 

The Project Manager is known as the scrum master and the project team is known as the scrum team. The product owner prioritizes the features and requirements to be developed on the product backlog. 

The scrum method uses sprints to deliver small increments of the work and get feedback from the customer. 

The scrum process flow includes:

Sprint planning > Daily Scrum Meeting > Sprint review / demo > Sprint retrospective

Sprint planning > Daily Scrum Meeting > Sprint review / demo > Sprint retrospective

Kanban

This involves using a Kanban board. There are three main columns on a Kanban board, they are:

To do > Work in Progress > Done.

To do > Work in Progress > Done.

The team lists out the features they have to do for a certain period/release and moves the features along the board to show progress and flow of work activities. 

A rule of thumb is to limit the number of features in the work-in-progress column as this keeps activities flowing through the board. 

This is essential because it would take a while for activities to get to the done column if team members have too many activities they are working on and are not focusing on completing an activity before moving to the next.

The kanban board helps the team to visualize the flow of work or project activities. This way the team can identify where impediments or issues are to further improve their effectiveness. Also, the team can manage the flow of work by limiting the number of project items that are in the work in progress section.

In conclusion, Agile approaches were developed to explore the delivery of value in short cycles to get feedback and quickly adapt to change which ensures requirements are met.


Ogaga Johnson helps individuals and organizations to achieve their learning and development goals with a focus on productivity and project management.

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