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What is Jira, how is it used in project management

Agile is not only a way to work, but also a mindset to work with, enabling the delivery of projects at speed with optimal results. Find out how the Agile methodology is revolutionising the practice of Digital Project Management.

What is the Agile methodology?

Agile is an approach to project management and product development that’s been gathering momentum for about 20 years. The Agile methodology is iterative, which means: 

  • Creating a number of different versions/iterations of a product 
  • Using each iteration to make improvements based on customer feedback

Agile’s especially popular amongst companies working in digital industries, enabling teams to deliver projects faster and with fewer headaches. 

Instead of putting all their efforts into a ‘big bang’ launch, teams following the Agile methodology will deliver a project in smaller, bitesize portions of work referred to as ‘sprints’. 

Prioritising the most important aspects of a project over costly, time-consuming formalities, projects consisting of Agile sprints are sometimes referred to as ‘lean’. 

What is Agile scrum?

Scrum is an Agile project management framework designed to help teams structure and manage their work. It draws on a specific set of values, principles, and practices.

If an Agile sprint defines what gets done and when, then scrum defines how that work will happen.  

Much like a rugby team training for a big game (which is where it gets its name from), scrum encourages teams to learn through experience, self-organise and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously boost their performance.

Want to find out more about Agile scrum? Watch this Explainer video for a simple overview of the scrum framework. 

What’s the history of Agile? 

In 2001, a group of experienced software developers realised they were working as a team to create new products in ways that went against the grain of traditional project management. 

Tech figureheads Kent Beck, Martin Fowler, Ron Jeffries, Ken Schwaber, and Jeff Sutherland all believed their unique approach had the potential to optimise projects everywhere. 

They wrote the Agile Manifesto, documenting their collective beliefs about how a modern project should operate. The manifesto stressed the need for: 

✔️Collaboration over documentation

✔️Self-organisation and autonomy, rather than rigid management structures

✔️The need to constantly iterate, rather than being locked into a single unchanging product design 

The Agile manifesto’s release coincided with the growth of the internet and digital products, helping Agile’s influence grow rapidly. Since the manifesto’s publication, its original principles have stood the test of time. 

How does the Agile approach enhance Digital Project Management?

Though Agile is used with all kinds of projects, because of its connection to software development it will always be synonymous with digital. 

As a result, Agile practices have become the driving force behind modern Digital Project Management. The Agile methodology enhances Digital Project Management in a number of important ways, including:

  • It allows smaller startups with limited resources to quickly and cheaply deliver websites, applications and an array of tech innovations
  • For larger, more established companies, it speeds up their functional processes and allows them to bring new products and features to market faster 

Who uses Agile Project Management?

A number of household name brands use the Agile methodology when managing projects. Some of the most famous examples include:

  • Apple: The US tech giant’s project management and development procedures all follow the Agile methodology. All of Apple’s big teams are divided into smaller ones, with Agile scrum suggesting that the ideal team size is from two to ten people. Apple’s development process consists of projecting, creating, testing and multiple iterations before a final product release.  
  • Microsoft: In 2010, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online team and Foundation Server team decided to “go Agile,” with all their projects operating according to scrum practices and completed in three-week sprints. Following the success of these projects, Microsoft adopted the Agile methodology company-wide. Since, they have even developed their own software for Agile projects, called Microsoft Project. 
  • Procter & Gamble: The US consumer goods company uses the Agile approach to project manage its consumer research initiatives. Procter & Gamble has set up a group of online communities to gain customer-focused insights about everything from product ideas to ad creative. The research insights are gathered in quick, successive waves (very Agile!), providing the business with up-to-the-moment information at a low cost.

Agile Project Management team roles 

Depending on the size of your company and project, your Agile team might be jam-packed with all kinds of professionals. What are the different roles and responsibilities in an Agile team? Glad you asked! Here’s a high-level breakdown:  

  • Product Manager – Plans the project’s strategic direction, manages stakeholders and co-ordinates the entire team. 
  • Product Owner – Manages the product roadmap and prioritises the backlog.
  • Developer – Completes software development tasks prioritised by the product Owner for a particular sprint​​.
  • Scrum Master – Organises scrums, ensures the Agile methodology is properly maintained, and removes any obstacles blocking the team’s progress. 
  • Team Leader – Organises all the team members one-on-one 
  • Tester – Collaborates with the Product Owner to define acceptance criteria and check for flaws before handing over the product to the client.
  • Architect – Maintains the agreed-upon structure of the product and ensures it properly meets any user/client requirements​​.
  • DevOps – Works on version control, testing, security, integration, and deployment.
  • UX UI Designer – Works with the entire team to come up with user-focussed designs for the product.

How do the principles of Agile apply to Digital Project Management?  

The final piece of the puzzle with Agile and Digital Project Management is to clarify how the methodology’s principles apply in the industry day-to-day. 

Regardless of what Agile project you’re working on, the methodology’s beliefs are bound to manifest in the following ways:

  ✔️The client will specify the project objectives, but the final deliverable is subject to change

✔️The project team will work in iterative cycles, with results always being evaluated at the end through user testing

✔️Depending on the results of testing, the final deliverable may be modified to better meet the client or user’s needs

✔️Deciding what parts of a backlog (outstanding tasks) to complete in the next sprint is settled on by the entire team, and is normally agreed upon in a sprint planning session

✔️Collaboration is essential, involving all team members and project stakeholders. For this reason, you may find the client working alongside the team to define requirements and invited to daily stand-ups and scrum meetings.

How to develop Digital Project Management skills

If you’re looking to upskill and add in-demand capabilities to your resume, our Digital Project Management: Elevate course will give you immediately applicable skills and your professional development a serious boost.  

This course is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to tap into the latest software (including Jira!) to lead goal-driven teams and deliver high-impact digital projects.

If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your Digital Project Management journey.