Agile management, or agile process management, or simply agile refer to an iterative, incremental method of managing the design and build activities for engineering, information technology, and other business areas that aims to provide new product or service development in a highly flexible and interactive manner; an example is its application in Scrum, an original form of agile software development. It requires capable individuals from the relevant business, openness to consistent customer input, and management openness to non-hierarchical forms of leadership. Agile can in fact be viewed as a broadening and generalization of the principles of the earlier successful array of Scrum concepts and techniques to more diverse business activities. Agile also traces its evolution to a “consensus event”, the publication of the “Agile manifesto“, and it has conceptual links to lean techniques, kanban (かんばん(看板)), and the Six Sigma area of business ideas.
Agile X techniques may also be called extreme process management. It is a variant of iterative life cycle where deliverables are submitted in stages. The main difference between agile and iterative development is that agile methods complete small portions of the deliverables in each delivery cycle (iteration) while iterative methods evolve the entire set of deliverables over time, completing them near the end of the project. Both iterative and agile methods were developed as a reaction to various obstacles that developed in more sequential forms of project organization. For example, as technology projects grow in complexity, end users tend to have difficulty defining the long term requirements without being able to view progressive prototypes. Projects that develop in iterations can constantly gather feedback to help refine those requirements. According to Jean-Loup Richet (Research Fellow at ESSEC Institute for Strategic Innovation & Services) “this approach can be leveraged effectively for non-software products and for project management in general, especially in areas of innovation and uncertainty. The end result is a product or project that best meets current customer needs and is delivered with minimal costs, waste, and time, enabling companies to achieve bottom line gains earlier than via traditional approaches. Agile management also offers a simple framework promoting communication and reflection on past work amongst team members.
Agile methods are mentioned in the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) under the Project Lifecycle definition:
Adaptive project life cycle, a project life cycle, also known as change-driven or agile methods, that is intended to facilitate change and require a high degree of ongoing stakeholder involvement. Adaptive life cycles are also iterative and incremental, but differ in that iterations are very rapid (usually 2-4 weeks in length) and are fixed in time and resources.
SMART is a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives, for example in project management, employee performance management and personal development. The letters S and M usually mean specific and measurable. The other letters have meant different things to different authors, as described below.
SMART criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue ofManagement Review by George T. Doran. The principal advantage of SMART objectives is that they are easier to understand, do, and be confident that they have been done.
SMARTER gives two additional criteria. For example, evaluated and reviewed are intended to ensure that targets are not forgotten.
SMARTTA is a variant of SMARTER with the last two letters TA in the place of ER. T is Trackable with clear measures of success and A is Agreed to ensure understanding and commitment.
he November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. It discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty in setting them.
Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Notice that these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels of management. In certain situations it is not realistic to attempt quantification, particularly in staff middle-management positions. Practicing managers and corporations can lose the benefit of a more abstract objective in order to gain quantification. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore, serious management should focus on these twins and not just the objective.
—George T. Doran, There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives
Project management software has the capacity to help plan, organize, and manage resource pools and develop resource estimates. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it can manage estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, decision-making, quality management and documentation or administration systems. Today, numerous PC & browser based project management softwares exist and they are finding their way into almost every type of business.
In our interview with Marc O’Brien, co-founder ofProjectLibre, we featured a tool with support for task management, resource allocation, tracking, Gantt charts, and much more. ProjectLibre is a good alternative to a commercial software product like Microsoft Project.
In December 2013, ProjectLibre released version 1.5.8, and a full rewrite of the codebase towards an Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGI) modular architecture is ongoing. This will allow connector modules for better integration with enterprise solutions such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
ProjectLibre is a Java based client tool. During their 2014 Q1 this year, they will release version 2.0. It is not clear yet when the SaaS version will become available.
ProjectLibre was awarded InfoWorld’s “Best of Open Source” in 2013 and ranks in my personal top 3 favorite open source project management tools.