Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management

Working in development teams delivering new products and innovative technologies within an IT company can be project manager’s inferno (or at least a purgatory).

I know this personally from the 13 years I spent managing many different projects in various IT companies, local as well as international. The never-ending challenge is to maintain manageable project scope, avoid production and development mistakes and enforce effective communication. All this means one thing — keep things “stupid simple”. This is especially true for management of blockchain based projects.

Over the past year I took an interest in understanding cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. I quickly realized that the technology that is behind these cryptocurrencies (blockchain) is very interesting, innovative but pretty complex and hard to understand even for people from tech or IT community.

Since blockchain is a relatively new technology that is complex and not easy to understand even for experienced developers, the role of the project manager working on blockchain development can seem almost impossible. Customers expect modern, high quality technology that is secure, fast, reliable, on time and on budget. But wait! What if you are in the middle of development process and the specifications have just changed. Again. Such project does not seem doable indeed.

Well, it is doable if you can keep track of 95 moving tasks in your head. You have to know which task has to be done before another; what are the trade-offs of doing one task before another; who is more capable to do each task, while making sure everyone is working on something important and reasonable. And when you are asked, you can respond within 3.5 seconds: “Yes, this will be done by 4:00 PM tomorrow”. It sounds tough but it is possible if you use the right management tools and methods.

The truth is that modern software projects are changing all the time. When customers are expected to finalize specifications before they can test the prototypes, delays often complicate the project development. The slow-paced waterfall management system with its one-year or two-years plans, with scheduled work packages and fixed release dates is not an option, if you are developing a new, bullet-proof, decentralized blockchain. You cannot postpone changes implementation until all the planned features are ready and tested. You have to adapt to changes and make them your competitive advantage. It seems that there is no other option than to use Agile Project Management tools and methods. Many of today’s software companies have ditched long-term waterfall project management method for an agile approach.

We in 01CryptoHouse have experienced it many times in developing new blockchain projects. For example, when we were developing witness voting system for OneGram coin, specifications were updated nearly at the end of development process. Something similar has happend when our customer has requested OneGram coin test-net release date couple of weeks earlier than was formerly planned. Managing such situations would be impossible without agile management methods.

Agile Project Management is about accepting and implementing changes even in the later development stages. It focuses on continuous improvements, scope flexibility, team inputs, and delivering the features with the highest business value using the instant information to effectively manage time and costs.

Agile Project Management reduces project complexity by breaking down the long cycle of requirements implementation for the whole project, building the complete product and then testing and debugging product issues (waterfall project management method). Instead of protracted work on the whole project it is much better to properly plan, create, and debug smaller parts of the project in shorter cycles. Such a process is faster and more effective, making it a better choice for teams developing a software product.

The benefits of using an Agile Project Management methods include higher quality software, faster features implementation cycles, and greater customer satisfaction. As a result, there is an increase in interest in Agile software development among various businesses.

Adrian Simon, project manager 01CryptoHouse

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