Project management often comes down to a series of iterative processes. It’s a chain of milestones where completing one part leads to the next iteration. Before the other phase begins, team members have the time to consider the feedback loop. Thus, the iterative model is a practical realization of a thorough planning process.
At the same time, the iterative project management method leaves room for proper stakeholder input. In that sense, the higher-up can observe complex projects and focus on continuous improvement. This agile methodology spans the entire project cycle over multiple iterations.
However, customer feedback is one of the aspects that can affect future iterations. Sometimes, the initial planning will overlook certain pitfalls. For example, the issue of resource availability and sudden scope creep. Luckily, the iterative method allows you to improve the previous step and utilize a cost-effective approach.
Therefore, large organizations can benefit from an iterative process. Project managers always shoot for the desired result and to gain new insights. So, here’s how to hasten the development process and attract more potential customers.
The Goal of Continuous Improvement
The iterative development process is an agile framework that allows you to tweak the goals in the sequence. Your target audience may evolve mid-work, meaning you’ll have to continuously improve. So, iterative project management aims to infuse functionality in the final product.
Nowadays, the iterative approach is a common practice in software development projects. When project goals can swiftly change, you need a way to update the list of project objectives. Also, such incremental development is an optimal way to track projects that meet at certain convergence points.
On the other hand, this principle also finds much use at the broader organizational level. The overall business strategy can morph by incorporating new iterative goals. Thus, the agile team can manage risks in a secure fashion and meet the project requirements.
Most Common Practical Appliances
Iterative project management results in the segmenting of a project into several manageable chunks. This can also happen based on feedback. Hence, the development cycle comprises one mini-task after the other, providing ample space before the next sprint.
In practice, brands often opt for two-week-long cycles that add to a two-year iteration plan. Such a pace fits a large project and promotes communication between development teams. At the same time, observing the previous iteration brings all lingering mishaps to the forefront.
In comparison, the waterfall method relies on principles set in stone. Within that framework, each segment of the overall project is clearly defined and not subject to change. This goes for both the timeline and project budget. Then, the team figures out a way to tackle those issues before the execution phase.
Therefore, the iterative approach is far more fluid, allowing for the rapid completion of objectives. For example, you can always set a better course based on new findings when developing a new brand logo. Thus, each new iteration originates from new ideas. This also allows the leader to track progress and test how the team works.
Main Principles and Approaches
Correctly applying the iterative method requires some preparation. Here’s what iterative project management comprises:
Focus on Transparency
In order to keep on improving, the team must stay open to constructive criticism. Otherwise, common mistakes will keep on appearing, and progress will stagnate. To avoid wasting time, aim for a more collaborative approach. For instance, instead of letting things slip under the rug, work with your team on all pain points.
Creating a supportive working atmosphere is a must for natural growth. It’s what drives the entire team forward and keeps everyone on the same page.
Create an Elevator Pitch
Inspiring the team is one of the main goals of project management. If you want to stay competitive in an evolving field, inner changes must occur often. Thus, the leader should quickly develop a new vision and get the rest of the team on board fast.
Inclusive Decision-Making Process
Project managers often leave the task of crafting a timeline for themselves. However, involving the rest of the team has many potential benefits. Putting more responsibilities on their plates motivates them to perform better.
Similarly, it makes micromanaging the aspects like budget and dependencies easier to grasp. If anyone shares their estimates, the manager could make an accurate roadmap.
Quality Assurance System
The iterative method warrants frequent course alterations. This means the list of main objectives changes many times during a project. However, that should result in you losing focus on the expected outcome. Thus, looking back at the previous stages can show the optimal way forward.
For a systematic view, consider documenting each change. That can also help you to:
- Present each change to the team of stakeholders
- Allow you to inspect how the workflow evolves
Implementation: A Step-by-Step Guide
Competent iterative project management requires diligent testing and updating of the process. To begin, start with the essential project deliverables. Afterward, proceed in this manner:
Settle on an Initial Plan
Before you can execute a series of steps, you must envision a clear path. That means taking all specifics and potential pitfalls into account. If done correctly, the initial plan should direct each team member to their daily tasks.
Analyze the Upcoming Steps
Once you have a rough outline of how to complete the project, brainstorm about the list of sub-tasks. Going more in-depth about what each step should accomplish will pay off later.
Execute the Starting Tasks
Follow the prepared documentation and perform the first few tasks as intended. If you manage to achieve optimal results, your team can hone in on the next iteration.
Schedule a Thorough Testing Period
Reviewing the work completed thus far will pinpoint the less sturdy foundations. Look for issues like bugs and needless slowdowns when assessing the progress. Here’s how to do so:
- Try out the product’s functionality
- Create a string of practical challenges
- Ask for detailed feedback
Re-Adjust the Later Stages
Before reaching the mid-way point, present the work to the sponsors and other stakeholders.
Then, give them the space to identify shortcomings and propose new milestones. However, the scope of the final outcome shouldn’t change after the initial planning.
Benefits and Advantages
The agile framework of the iterative approach provides multiple advantageous stages. For instance:
Accurate Risk Management
Moving one step at a time means the team can tackle each obstacle properly. As a result, they won’t have to backtrack to fix the lingering problems.
Short Development Cycle
Iterative project management is very well suited for a compressed progress bar. Plus, all such milestones create enough room for gathering feedback. Next, the team can follow the stakeholders’ wishes and make the necessary changes.
Practical Learning Opportunities
Crossing the items on the list without narrow time constraints is a great learning tool. Having a hands-on approach to each task and sub-task is an advanced training method. Thus, your team will keep on kicking new skills as the project develops.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Generally, the newer iteration stage should be a total improvement over the previous step. However, sometimes the team will make a crucial mistake. Set up a path to revert to the preceding situation to avoid a significant slowdown.
Maintain the Momentum
If possible, spread out the work so that progress originates from multiple departments. In the same vein, if the market issues a different course, switch to another target. Therefore, aim for efficiency at all times and properly relegate the available resources.
Generate New ideas
Inspire the team to look for better solutions and remain productive. This will apply a natural growth pattern to the iteration process.
Develop New Action Items
Iterative project management produces new venues instead of relying on damage control. Observing how you can improve your efficacy equals constant improvement flow. That agile framework allows you to deal with issues before they can create bottlenecks.
Excellent Pace for Tightly-Confined Projects
Though the standard waterfall method has many uses, smaller teams can greatly benefit from an iterative process. Having the means to adjust to a new course quickly is a common issue for corporations.
Achieve Incremental Progress
In an iterative project, each building block produces a valuable outcome. Thus, the business always has some form of a deliverable to support the ongoing work. On top of that, the majority of the results are products ready for further implementation.
The iterative process leaves no room for tasks that won’t generate income soon. Instead, it comprises shorter workflows call sprints. Each of those actions is cost-effective and creates value soon after commencing.
Ending Thoughts on Iterative Project Management
Switching to a more segmented way of doing things may be a harsh change for some enterprises. However, the iterative approach favors fluidity and creativity. Though it forgoes the need for a carefully laid out plan with many parts, it allows for easy re-adjustments. As a result, it is a progressive approach that evolves with the surroundings. However, if done correctly, it can also allow you to stay ahead of the curve.
On that note, effective usage warrants quick adaptation to sudden changes. Thus, the project manager should effectively present each new action item to generate support. Failing to do so will result in slowdowns as the team takes ample time to review each new proposal.
If you liked this article about iterative project management, you should check out this article about challenges in project management.
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