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3 Steps For Agile Project Management In Service Businesses

Filed Under: Business
Date Published: August 30, 2022
By: Claire

Agile project management is a way of planning out and delivering projects that is particularly popular for software development. One of the critical ways agile differs from other project management processes is that the project is planned in short bursts.

More traditional project management processes, such as waterfall, map out all the tasks to deliver a result once the project is complete. However, with Agile Project Management, you prioritise tasks to deliver maximum value within a 2-week period. 

Instead of waiting until the end of the project to deliver, you deliver something that can then be tested and put in the hands of customers every couple of weeks. 

Once one loop is finished, you go through the to-do list, reprioritise the tasks to be done in the next 2 weeks and start working through those.

The main benefit of agile is it allows you always to be delivering value to the end user. Every 2 weeks, something new is delivered instead of waiting until the end of the project. 

The second benefit is that it allows you to be more flexible and adapt to changing priorities easily without messing up workflows.

It is in the latter benefit, creating more flexibility, that I would like to focus on to show how service business owners can best benefit from a more agile project management approach, especially as they scale.

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Why A More Agile Approach To Project Management Can Increase Service Business Efficiency

 

When running a service business, you have a lot on your plate.

You need to manage:

  • Client requests
  • Revisions
  • Team planning
  • Team requests
  • Marketing
  • Lead generation
  • Product launches
  • Funnels
  • Etc etc etc

All of these different tasks have different priorities at different times. 

Perhaps some client work is more urgent than others and needs to be prioritised above others.

 

It can get very messy very quickly, especially when things are not automated or if you have to override automation, if you are constantly trying to replan and reprioritise work to fit the changing needs of your business.

This is where Agile Project Management comes in. Instead of trying to work out how to replan your work each day, set out a schedule where you can prioritise and plan tasks for a set period of time to deliver on your top priorities and value-adding tasks.

Once that’s complete, you can:

  • Review how well you did do at completing the tasks
  • Make improvements to the process
  • Reprioritise the to-do list & go again!

Sounds pretty good, huh?

Well, let’s dive into some practical steps to help you get set up.

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3 Steps to Implement Agile Principles into Service Business

One of the principles of Agile is that you make iterative improvements, so don’t worry about trying to get it right the first time.

As you get more practice working in cycles, you will learn what rhythms work for you and your business.

Step 1: Choose your cycle time 

How long will you go between prioritisations? I recommend with starting with 2-week cycles as this gives you enough time to get something done without interruptions but isn’t so long that you risk missing more urgent deadlines.

Step 2: Decide how you prioritise

There is no right answer here. I find when it comes to prioritisation, the best thing to do is look at multiple factors, for example, impact (financially), deadlines, alignment with strategic goals, the value of the relationship etc. The other thing to be aware of is not falling into the trap of just prioritising client work at the expense of working on the business. 

It’s all about balance, baby!

Step 3: Create the task list & get to work!

Now you have your cycle time & your priorities, work out how many tasks you can realistically get done in the time you have allowed. Give each task an owner and get going!

Check-in briefly each day to ensure everyone is on track and there aren’t any issues. 

Of course, things will come up that mean you have to shift focus. I manage this by not overbudgeting myself time-wise on the prioritised task list. Leave yourself a little buffer, and don’t worry if you don’t get it all done. Data on what you do get done can feed into your next task list creation process.

Over time you will get better at planning and increase your productivity.

Conclusion

If you’ve been struggling to manage priorities and workloads in your business, you always feel like there is too much going on and you can’t prioritise effectively, give agile a try!

Increase your productivity & flexibility in your business using agile project management techniques:

  1. Decide on a cycle time
  2. Prioritise your tasks
  3. Focus on completing the top priority tasks for 2 weeks
  4. Review, reprioritise & go again!