Iteration is a Powerful Tool in Project Management

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell argued that roughly 10,000 hours of practice can make you a master in any field. Gladwell’s theory demonstrates the value grit and effort bring to success, but achieving excellence in our competitive society requires going beyond the sheer amount of time invested.
Along with hard work and determination, success is about the quality of time you put in and the reflections made within each stage of growth as you continuously improve. For example, scientists perform experiments to understand the natural world. Through observation and measurement, they test hypotheses to build on our collective human understanding. Similarly, in contemporary project management, teams use iterations to complete small components of an overall project and adjust to change intermittently.

Iterate and reflect, you get better from what you discover

Using an agile-based approach to execution, tasks get done in short, iterative bursts. How short is each burst? Generally, anywhere between two weeks to two months – it all varies on the constructs of your team and your project’s scope. These iterative efforts allow teams to make changes between each iterative session. By reflecting on project governance and process, this approach allows teams to reset project scope and evaluate and reflect on the team’s productivity. After the initial scope of a project is defined, T2 Tech Group’s iterative efforts start by completing the first sprint. Reflection takes place prior to moving on to the next iterative session. From reflection, valuable lessons are learned in time and can be implemented throughout the execution of the project.

The old way of thinking, the traditional Waterfall approach, sets up project phases like dominoes, refusing to let the next in line begin until its upstream partner ends. The dated method has you design, build, implement, test and then close a project. The problem with this paradigm is that lessons are learned too late.

When teams use short iterations and implement a small, vertical slice of an entire project between iterations they have an opportunity to:

  1. Enhance work processes by reflecting on previous iterations
  2. Accommodate changes to a project before the next iteration begins
  3. Replicate what works and iterate again

An agile-based approach harnesses the power of iteration by giving you the ability to refine and adapt to work methodologies and interactions between team members. Iterate and reflect. You get better from what you discover. And have the power to perfect and modify until you get it right.

Quick tip: As opposed to tackling a whole project all at once, you will experience a greater likelihood of success by iterating small slices one at a time. Intermittent progress allows for short bursts of discovery to apply lessons learned right away within the project.

What’s up next: We’ll continue to discuss the importance of the reflective process between iterations. We will not only cover the reflection necessary to improve methodology relating to team interactions, but we’ll address facilitating project scope changes. Changes are inevitable; the agile method can provide a platform to accommodate these changes.

2018-06-19T15:33:46+00:00

About the Author:

Kevin Torf
Kevin Torf is an information systems executive with a 30+ year career. In 2012, Kevin became a managing partner of T2 Tech Group after merging the consulting division of Inventtrex into T2 Tech. He specializes in large-scale IT project design, procurement and implementation. He offers experience in executive-level technology consulting involving data centers, server farms, storage and backup systems, security, video messaging and VoIP systems.

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