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What is agile project management?

Agile project management is a generic term for approaches that are founded on empirical process control [1] and on the Agile Manifesto of 2001 [2]. They are often used when the process to achieving a specific project deliverable, such as a software program, is difficult or impossible to plan at the outset of the project. In addition, agile methods enable the customer to change or adapt the requirements of the final product during the project lifecycle. For this precise reason, agile approaches are predestined to be used in projects where both the technical implementation is unclear and the client's requirements cannot yet be fully formulated. In recent years, it has been observed that other non-software-oriented projects are also applying agile techniques and principles to an increasing extent [3].

There are many agile methods, frameworks or process models such as Scrum, Kanban [4], Extreme Programming [5], Design Thinking, DevOps, Feature Driven Development [6] or Crystal Clear. Of all the agile frameworks, Scrum has become the most widespread around the world. Basically, it provides a framework offering the project team maximum flexibility in developing an optimum product within a defined timeframe and budget.

Often, however, no clear predictions can be made at the beginning of an agile project to develop the finished product or what exactly the cost will be at the outset [7]. Therefore, this leads to uncertainty in many companies, especially when Scrum is first introduced. In order to predict an expected result, there are various possibilities and approaches, which are presented in depth in the following.

If one decides to become more agile, it is not just about introducing a new concept, framework or method, but rather about understanding agility as a canon of values, principles and ways of working – and developing an "agile mindset". Agile leadership helps employees and team members to find solutions quickly and innovatively – since the needs of markets and customers are increasingly volatile, i.e. unstable [8]. Many companies are currently developing these concepts, attitudes and values in-house. Yet, the underlying conditions are often very different, so one will have to be prepared for possible resistance or delays, or that adjustments may be necessary. These are discussed in detail in IAPM's "White Paper Hybrid Project Management".

First, the methods that can be used in agile project management are explained in order to better analyse and assess the project environment. In addition to the agile framework Scrum, the two agile methods Kanban and Extreme Programming are furthermore introduced. Finally, people in projects are discussed in detail and the soft factors in agile project management are examined. Finally, the requirements for and the path to a certification issued by the International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) are outlined and everything important concerning the exam is explained.