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For around two decades, many companies have tried to adopt an Agile approach into their management style. One of the keywords of this transformation is Program - a set of various, interconnected projects that are part of grander business strategy. But what actually is Agile Program Management? Let’s have a look and even delve deeper into this topic, to see what its key characteristics, challenges, and best practices are.
Look no further than Atlassian, as it always provides a good description of Agile-related terms: Agile project management is an iterative approach to managing software development projects that focuses on continuous releases and incorporating customer feedback with every iteration. Software teams that embrace agile project management methodologies increase their development speed, expand collaboration, and foster the ability to better respond to market trends.
Project management is equally different from and complementary to product management. The former is usually a single initiative, while the latter is a specific, often physical product with its lifecycle and a target group. Fortunately, the aforementioned definition fits both Agile project and product management.
Flexibility is paramount in Agile project management - you can’t just force some arbitrary goals in the beginning and then just execute them. Well, of course, you can, it’s not like we have tools to forbid you this. Unless you build a house or a highway, then prepare for complete and utter failure. Nowadays, most IT projects rely on Agile, on pivoting and high velocity of potential changes within the program.
Agile program management is never about tools - they can help implement and keep the management afloat, but it’s always about people. Even Agile Manifesto emphasizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools in its very first point. Listening to your team’s opinion and stakeholders' insight is the key to every Agile initiative.
What is the true value of Agile program management? It’s the ability to respond to customers’ needs quickly and efficiently. You must deliver the program they want and need, exactly when they need it and how they want it. It’s always nice to keep a proper budget and be a reliable contractor and producer, but this ability to swiftly answer customers' needs is what lies at the heart of Agile program management.
Agile is a good choice for program management because it puts value and customers’ needs in the first place. It’s much more flexible than the Classic (Waterfall) approach, and its iterative nature makes it much easier to pivot or add features customers’ need. Also, Agile principles emphasize building working products that people can get their hands on quickly, versus spending a lot of time writing specifications upfront. Agile development projects focus on cross-functional teams empowered to make decisions, versus big hierarchies and heavy functional organizations. They focus on rapid iteration, with continuous customer input along the way, states PMI.
Implementing an Agile program management approach is basically changing the whole workflow’s philosophy within your team or your company. But, it can be done with just a few steps:
There are many advantages of Agile program management. Mainly, it’s a framework to keep your work and progress on track. But there is far more benefits than that:
To manage these dependencies better, you can visualize them with BigPicture:
Agile Release Train (ART) is a long-lived team of Agile teams, which, along with other stakeholders, incrementally develops, delivers, and where applicable operates, one or more solutions in a value stream. How to coordinate this team of teams? The answer is, with the help of Solution Train.
As SAFe® describes it, the Solution Train allows businesses to build large and complex solutions, including cyber-physical systems (e.g., embedded systems) in a Lean-Agile manner. By aligning Agile Release Trains to a shared mission and coordinating the efforts of ARTs and Suppliers, the Solution Train helps manage the inherent risk and variability of large-scale solution development and requires the support of additional SAFe roles, artifacts, and events. This way, you can effectively coordinate many teams within the ART and bring the much needed business value.
Looking for a proper tool for Agile Program Management? Look no further, BigPicture is here to help. With our tool, you can build any portfolio structure, including sub-portfolios, programs, projects, stages, SAFe® ARTs, LeSS Requirement Areas, and more. Regardless of methodology, you can easily optimize your work and track progress on
all granularity levels. BigPicture supports Scrum, SAFe®, LeSS, and more, allowing you to work on a level of various timeboxes, such as iterations, Program Increments, or whatever meets your unique requirements.