written by
Sean Thomas

How to Become an Agile Organization

Agile Project Management 5 min read

Being “agile” is more than just a buzzword today; it’s a methodology that enables organizations to embrace change, become more adaptive, and maintain a competitive advantage. However, despite popular belief, “being agile” doesn’t mean making a decision one day during a meeting. The majority of organizations like the idea of being agile or adopting some agile practices but aren’t actually agile. In this article, we will explore what it truly means to be agile and how to become an agile organization. What is “Agile”?

In short, being “agile” is the ability to understand, adapt, and change quickly in an ever-evolving environment.

Agile asks two key questions:

  • Are you delivering valuable, innovative projects?
  • Are you excited about going to work every day?

According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, Sixth Edition, there are four core values of the Agile Manifesto, which are as follows:

The 4 Values of the Agile Manifesto

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change by following a plan

When many think of “agile”, we might consider how it relates to project management. However, in order to deploy an agile project management methodology in an organization, the organization itself must be agile; it must be ready for change.

The agile methodology represents a significant change in how an organization functions and conducts business as a whole. All in all, the speed of change continues to drive larger organizations to adopt agile mindsets in order to remain competitive.

How to Become Agile

Becoming “agile” is a process and, as mentioned above, requires an organization to evolve and embrace change. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Conduct a readiness assessment.

How do you know if your organization is ready to “be agile”? First and foremost, the organization must be ready for change. To assess whether or not an organization is ready for change, you can conduct a readiness assessment.

In addition to asking the organization a series of questions related to the organization’s current position, it also provides an organization with time and the level of effort agile implementation will require, such as the processes that need to be developed, necessary skillsets, and metrics to measure progress and performance.

Photographer: Meghan Lamle | Source: Unsplash

2. Develop agile artifacts.

Now that an organization is ready to adopt the agile mindset, now it’s time to develop the appropriate agile artifacts to support this, which include the following:

  • Standards
  • Processes
  • Principles
  • Templates
  • Metrics

In many cases, organizations might assemble an agile team to help develop the appropriate standards and templates and even aid in introducing the agile methodology throughout the organization.

3. Educate, communicate, and train teams.

After developing the agile methodology and its necessary artifacts to assist with implementation and adoption, the pilot agile team and leadership must educate, communicate, and train teams and organizations on what it will look like to become “agile”. This is a huge step and will make or break the success of the implementation and ensure successful adoption throughout the organization.

4. Lead by example.

We can’t very well discuss being agile without the subject of leadership. Leadership ensures agile thinking becomes rooted in the organization’s culture. Leaders also guide the team through roadblocks and challenges as they adjust to new ways of thinking and working. Leaders can do this by being supportive and ensuring regular and open communication.

What to Expect After Deploying the Agile Methodology

As you can clearly understand, depending on the current state and position of the organization, agile development and implementation is an investment and requires time and effort. However, after the agile methodology is implemented, what happens now? Here are some benefits that organizations will begin to realize:

  • A greater focus on customer needs and wants (and, therefore, an increase in sales and revenue)
  • A greater focus on driving value
  • A reduction in waste
  • Fewer budget overruns
  • Improved team communication (and, therefore, better collaboration and more collective work efforts)
  • Increased organizational flexibility
  • Increased adaptation to change
  • Increased innovation
  • Improved morale and productivity
  • Improved quality in the delivery of products and services
  • Greater competitive advantage

A Change in Project Management

The agile methodology begins with organizational culture and trickles down through operations and, of course, how projects are managed. Many project managers describe agile as “chaotic”. In some ways, this is true; however, managing agile projects involves the same project management process groups, but they occur at different intervals.

Below is a chart of “The Continuum of Project Life Cycles” from the Agile Practice Guide by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This chart details the different life cycles to project management—predictive, iterative, incremental, and agile—and how the key process groups are handled under each life cycle.

For example, the chart below shows gathering requirements and delivery frequently happen throughout the agile project life cycle; change is incorporated in real-time; key stakeholders are continuously involved; and risks and costs are monitored and controlled as requirements, constraints, and changes emerge through each iterative stage.

How the PMP Exam Allows You to Become Agile

The pandemic has forced us to adopt remote and/or hybrid workforces, which requires a new way of thinking. As a result, more and more organizations are adopting agile practices. And why? According to the 15th Annual State of Agile report, agile adoption within software development teams increased from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021. Additionally, agile adoption within non-IT departments nearly doubled.

However, as we briefly discussed above, not every organization is ready to adopt agile. In fact, according to the State of Agile report, the top barriers to adoption include the following:

  • Inconsistencies in processes and practices
  • Organizational culture challenges
  • Resistance to change

Regardless of whether you are a leader or a project manager, increasing and expanding your knowledge of the agile methodology can have a huge impact on your projects, teams, and organizations. Earning your PMP certification will help you to understand the agile methodology fully as well as teach you the various agile tools, techniques, and models to implement within your team and organization.

Where to Find PMP Certification Courses

We won’t lie—the PMP exam is not easy. In fact, only 65% of test-takers pass on their try. However, it is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge of leadership, project management, and, yes, the agile methodology.

Don’t test well? That’s okay. You can increase your chances by taking a PMP exam prep course. There are many different PMP exam prep programs and courses out there, but only the best ones provide you with an in-depth review of the principles and material that you will see on exam day and also provides you with a chance to take a cloned practice PMP exam.

If you’re looking for the best PMP Exam Prep course in the world, then look no further than Project Vanguards. What makes Project Vanguards different? By enrolling in one of our PMP exam prep courses, you get lifetime access to all course content, free PDU’s to maintain your PMP credential, and live training within the highly robust and customized Learning Management System.

Project Vanguards offers the highest quality professional training and resources to help set you up for success to take and pass your PMP exam on your very first try!

Agile Project Management