By Sheelagh Jenkins, Accountant at Hive Business
Having recently attended a course about Agile project management, it struck me that often the simplest of ideas can produce great results. While some of the terminology associated with Agile can seem bemusing (and amusing) – Scrum Master? Sprint? Kanban? – basically all you need is a marker pen, some post-its and space on your wall.
Agile originated in the IT industry, when project managers discovered that they were so bogged down by the nitty-gritty of project work that they lost sight of the end result – meaning that they blindly ploughed on towards the original deadlines, only realising on completion that a competitor had already beaten them to it and their work was of little value. The purpose of Agile was to keep the focus on that end result, in this case, a usable product.
One of the learning points that I took away from the course was that if you slightly alter how you look at the tasks necessary to complete a project, it can help to ensure that you meet and hopefully exceed expectations. Taking an Agile approach to project management shifts the emphasis away from that of simply meeting deadlines to that of delivering value – surely the desired result of most projects. It can be as simple as having a clear definition of what success is for your project.
Agile can be applied to any type of work and is a great way to keep on top of what each team member is doing. Team members become responsible for their own part of each project while at the same time remaining aware of how their element of the project fits into the bigger picture. As a result, there should not be a need for micro-management, which in turn should free up management time for more productive tasks. This means that, although deadlines remain important, they are no longer the primary focus, as Agile should ensure that the deadline is met automatically.
How might agile be implemented in a dental practice? In an environment with very distinct work roles, it could help all members of the practice to be aware of what different teams are doing. It could also help manage the process from a patient enquiry, through initial consultation and all stages to final treatment, ensuring that this runs smoothly in the planned timescale. Another possibility is to use Agile for small, stand-alone projects, such as the research into and acquisition of a new piece of equipment.
So what about that amusing Agile terminology? The Scrum-Master is the person who takes charge of the regular meetings to review the Agile board. The Sprint is the period of time that tasks are broken down into. The Kanban is your wall or noticeboard – wherever the Agile post-its are organised.
Give it a go, we’d love to hear how it works for you. If you need some guidance getting started please do get in touch on 01872 300232 or email [email protected].