The Role of Agile Methodologies in Remote Project Management
Companies are trying out new management techniques to make them more adaptable and less hierarchical in the face of the growing unpredictability and velocity of the business environment.
Agile is one such approach that has gained a lot of traction lately because of its emphasis on rapid response, teamwork, autonomy, and delegated authority.
However, agile was originally developed for colocated teams, and in the post-COVID era, many workers are doing at least some of their jobs from afar.
Before the pandemic, remote work was possible in some firms, but the rapid transition to remote work on a larger scale was required by most businesses. The rise in popularity of agile suggests that understanding how it may be applied to remote work is of utmost importance in the coming years.
Agile is the new normal
Two major, ongoing trends in the workplace, the rise of remote and hybrid work and agile work practices, are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Organisations are aiming to become less hierarchical and more responsive by embracing agile and empowering self-managed teams on a large scale—as an increasing number of employees want to work remotely at least part of the time. Therefore, companies must modify their operational models to support remote employees.
According to its supporters, Agile is "a set of recommendations for a more adaptive and efficient approach" to project management. Its core principles hold that projects should be planned continuously rather than all at once, that plans should be flexible rather than rigid, and that development should be iterative and incremental.
In addition, rather than lengthy, hierarchical processes and documentation over huge and remote networks, the focus should be on interaction and collaboration amongst people working in small, autonomous, and colocated teams. Agile's formal frameworks are founded around a small number of regular meetings, called ceremonies in the agile methodology.
In this article, you will discover the role of agile methodologies in remote project management, while examining how agile and remote project management fit together by uncovering problems and offering solutions.
Problem: Fewer organic interaction opportunities
Since videoconferencing severely limits the connection between teams, working remotely can make it harder for new ideas to arise through casual talk. In other words, there was no way to replace in-person meetings with virtual ones.
The idea of agile is largely predicated on small teams that are physically colocated, so that they can handle complicated problems and find unique solutions by brainstorming together. However, this can be exacerbated by teams having more members.
Planned problem-solving via dialogues and alternate peer input are integral parts of the agile methodology, and these conversations can take place anywhere from the proverbial "water cooler" to lunchtime. Working remotely poses challenges for agile because there are fewer opportunities for impromptu collaboration.
Solution: Create smaller sub teams within existing teams
Teams can self-organize into smaller groups of two to four people to better practice the agile concepts of constant feedback and collaboration, while keeping the original, larger group together so that crucial information may be shared.
When a few employees work together as a subteam, they are able to keep the lines of communication open for longer periods of time, or even the entire workday. This allows them to have someone to bounce ideas off of, get immediate feedback, and ask for assistance as needed.
Problem: Less interaction impedes knowledge sharing
Working remotely reduces the likelihood of casual, one-on-one talks, which typically follow larger, in-person meetings. Innovating something new is made easier by face-to-face collaboration, as members of the team are more likely to have "light-bulb moments" while working together.
Effective information sharing is crucial for an agile methodology. Meeting new individuals by accident helps spread information, sparks new ideas, and opens doors to new opportunities. Although knowledge-sharing networks are essential to the success of any agile business, it becomes more challenging for remote workers to keep and grow them.
Solution: Utilize information sharing via software solutions
You should promote the usage of numerous internet tools for agile to aid in knowledge sharing. Remote agile teams not only benefit from the increased usage of online communication technologies, but also from the use of online project management software designed to facilitate agile work. Teams and individuals alike might benefit from using these resources when engaging in strategic project planning.
Problem: Leaders may take more control (micromanage) without providing enough support
The ability to coach subordinates and allocate tasks is a hallmark of effective leadership. However, if you've been in management for a while and your responsibilities have included making a lot of autonomous decisions and even micromanaging, you may revert to old behaviors in the midst of a crisis.
From the perspective of a leader, the tenets of agile are as follows: trust people, give them control over their work, eliminate potential roadblocks, foster a culture of learning, and develop a common goal for the team.
Solution: Shared leadership
Leaders in agile teams should work to foster a culture of shared leadership. Teamwork is a collaborative effort in which individuals take the initiative to guide one another toward common objectives rather than waiting to be directed by a single person.
Instead of setting objectives for the team, leaders should help members come up with their own. Although this strategy takes longer, it increases support and facilitates faster rollout. Instead of fostering a mindset that the leader knows best, shared leadership lays significant emphasis on the role of leaders as teachers who develop the team to operate more independently.
Problem: Meeting overload
Whether or not a team has adopted agile, the amount of online meetings will grow when employees are working remotely. Combining remote work with agile can lead to an excess of meetings because agile methods rely on frequent social connection and cooperation.
Solution: Protect non meeting time
Team members may benefit from scheduling time for solo projects to reduce the number of hours spent in virtual meetings. Team members can benefit from having uninterrupted time to get work done, ideally in chunks of time that are long enough to be effective.
Some project management teams often find that establishing rules such as meetings lasting a maximum of 50 minutes, with at least 10 minutes in-between consecutive meetings, to be helpful. It shows that burnout is taken seriously and that people are appreciated as individuals.
Firms with existing experience in agile and remote project management may already have come across the issues highlighted and found their own solutions. Each business should use their own approaches to agile and remote project management transitions for their own specific industry or wherever their teams are based in the world.
Agile is most helpful when there is less routine involved, and different degrees of adaptation may be effective for certain activities. Since Agile hinges on close collaboration between members of a team and substantial individual responsibility, nurturing these characteristics within each team is a good step forward.
Stuart Cooke is the Digital Marketing Manager at My Baggage. They are a luggage shipping company that help remote workers all over the world to take the hassle out of relocating.