Everything You Need To Know About Agile Software Development

July 8, 2021

Agile teams using agile software development
Agile teams use tools and processes in delivering value

Software developers can satisfy the needs of the product owner extremely well by using the agile software development methodology. Agile is a method that provides an alternative to build and design software development. 

Since technology keeps changing over time, software development teams use agile project management and an agile framework to stay up to date. However, agile is an approach that helps companies embrace changes in the development field by enabling team members to break down the length of a task into small segments to develop and test software. 

However, organizations of all sizes have been influenced by the promise of faster processes, more releases, and higher revenues. Although agile software development has been used by individuals from Apple and Facebook to Google and Amazon, in essence, only a few organizations have a firm grasp on how the agile software development process works. 

This article will discuss, agile software development, right through to its framework, and show why agile project management is suitable for every company.

Extreme programming can be made easier using a scrum kanban approach

Agile practices give organizations the ability to create and respond to change.

What is Agile?

Agile is a process that enables software developers to more efficiently manage a project by breaking it down into different segments, each of which allows consistent collaboration with company stakeholders to promote steady improvement at every stage of the development.

Agile can be seen as an umbrella for lightweight frameworks, tools, and methods that software developers and companies use in achieving agility and deliver value. Agile software development first emerged in 2001, but software developers applied agile to projects since the mid-1990s. As a result, it assisted collaboration between the company and the stakeholders, resulting in the fast delivery of business values, in a self-organizing team.

Agile practices give organizations the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of handling things with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain development and turbulent situation. Agile is about change and responding quickly to changes as they show up, just like they do in most projects.

It is a mix of values and principles that were brought about in the agile manifesto. The main goals of agile are to accept change, consistently make improvements, and deliver a working product as fast as possible.

Agile teams using agile

The Agile Manifesto 

Every good movement has a manifesto, which is a public declaration and intent. There have been manifestos for political activities, art movements, and more.

People see agile as a controversial topic in the field of software development. Some refer to it as methodology, while some see it as a framework. But either way, agile software development provides a light-footed way to work for software development before expanding its values to almost every industry. Now, every project manager recognizes the importance of agile.

However, if you are new to the world of agile in software development or you have heard about it but still don’t understand how it works, don’t worry. You not alone. It’s not only polarizing but can sometimes be challenging to know for those who are inexperienced in the field of software development.

More than 15 years ago, 17 software developers met at “The Lodge” in Snowbird ski resort in Utah to think of a better way of developing software. They called themselves “the Agile Alliance.”

Through this work, the developers of the manifesto got to understand how effective these principles would help them in their field – thinking of how their ideas will go far beyond the software development industry.

Values these developers cited as necessary were:

· Individual and interactions over process and tools 

· Working software over comprehensive documentation 

· Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 

· Responding to change over following plan

Let’s look at each value in more detail:

The agile approach is a great way to get started in software development

Individual and interaction over process and tools

Agile places more significance on individuals over process and tools; people respond to business needs and handle the development process. Process and tools that are less responsive to change may likely not meet customer needs without the intervention of people.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Documentation requires so much time to process, which is something agile is against. Each stage of the documentation process requires time before being approved, which can cause a delay in software development. However, agile is all about streamlining processes resulting in fast delivery of products. Valuing the product over documentation helps to streamline that process.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Clients and project managers must work hand in hand on the delivery details rather than negotiate over contracts. For instance, a project manager and the product owner often discuss the project requirements for the product in detail before work starts and then delivers the finished product. However, agile principles dictate that the client is involved throughout the project lifecycle, giving them consistent feedback throughout.

Responding to changes over following a plan

While change occurs, software developers must avoid working on traditional project management methodologies as much as possible. Nonetheless, agile works in short iterations – known as sprints – such iterations allow for quick changes and can even enhance a project and add value.

Knowledge of resources can help put agile methodologies in place

The 12 principles of Agile Development

The following are the 12 principles that define agile as an approach, and they are taken from agilemanifesto.com:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
  4. Businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.  
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. The team reflects on becoming more effective at regular intervals, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Development teams using scrum

An agile team will view their individual roles on a Kanban board, a technique for visualizing and optimizing the efficient flow of work among the team members.

Agile Methodologies

The agile methodology is a way of managing and breaking a project into several phases, which iterates steps and motivates flexibility, testing, and changes throughout a project lifecycle. It is an innovative approach to project management that involves different processes mainly used for software development. Business demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their clients.

It abandons the risk of spending more time on a process that ultimately fails due to some mistakes in the early stage. It relies instead on trusting developers and teams to work directly with clients to achieve their goals and provide solutions in a fast and incremental way. 

Scrum

Scrum is the most commonly used process in the agile framework. It is a project management method that stresses teamwork, accountability, and iterates progress towards well-established goals. Different phases of development called sprints characterize scrum. 

Scrum encourages teamwork because software developers want to complete every sprint’s deadline. With scrum, software developers can recognize their priorities and responsibilities, meaning they can easily focus on sprints yet to be completed. In addition, scrum focuses more on quality, so there are fewer mistakes in the project lifecycle.

Software development teams using scrum

Kanban  

Kanban is another type of model that is frequently used to create products in such a way that helps and supports teams to work together. It is a model designed to help teams work together more efficiently and effectively. Kanban emphasizes more on a continuous delivery while attempting to not overwork the entire development team. 

An agile team will view their individual roles on a Kanban board, a technique for visualizing and optimizing the efficient flow of work among the team members. It offers the ability to view a project’s task that is in progress. Software developers have access to limit or accelerate the number of tasks in progress at a particular time.

Kanban is part of agile frameworks

Waterfall   

The waterfall model is used to create a system with a linear and logical approach in the system development lifecycle. The waterfall model is called the waterfall model because the model develops systematically from one stage to another in a downward style.

However, the waterfall model can be divided into different stages, and the output of one stage is used as the input or beginning of the next stage. Therefore, every stage of the waterfall model must be completed before the next stage starts. There is no overlapping of stages. 

Knowledge of the waterfall method can increase agility and quality

Sprints 

Sprint is a particular period during which a specific project must be completed and made ready for review. It is a short iteration that usually takes between one to three weeks to be completed, where the team works on tasks determined in a sprint planning meeting. First, it breaks down a project into smaller sizes. Then, the team plans a single sprint and determines future sprints based on the outcome of the previous sprint. 

However, the concept is continuously repeated until the product is feature-ready. Once the sprint is ready, an agile team will review the product to know what is working and not working and begin another sprint to continue to enhance the product.

A popular agile approach is using Sprints

Getting Started With Agile

The major mistake most businesses make when implementing agile to their business is by trying everything once. But the implementation shouldn’t be that way, it should be handled like its own project, with defined steps to completion and with success metrics identified. The following are the steps to take to getting started with agile:

  • Focus on a single project: Rather than shifting many projects over to the agile at once, you can start with one or two new projects that can act as an experiment.
  • Introduce sprints: Sprint cycles of tasks conducted in agile involve six stages: plan, create, build, implement, measure, and launch. Note that, rather than considering the overall project, agile breaks them down into smaller segments. You can start by shifting the process to accommodate this mindset.       
  • Start holding stand-up meetings: Daily stand-up meetings are regularly practiced in agile. They involve each team member discussing what they’ve accomplished since the last stand-up meeting, what’s next, and their challenges.
Find a free agile program to get started in a career in project management

Where Can You Learn Agile Development Practices?   

The agile methodology is extremely popular in software development. It involves ongoing collaboration, iterates updates, and keeps clients updated throughout. But how can you learn agile in software development? Is agile worth diving into?

Where do I start learning agile?

You can start learning agile by getting familiar with the values and principles of the agile manifesto. However, be aware that enrolling in inadequate courses that teach the wrong things can set you off with the wrong mindset and severely hamper your progress with agile.

It’s better to only take classes from reputable organizations with a good history of client satisfaction. Also, look at the experience of the tutor teaching the course. Ensure your tutor has considerable real-world experience working in agile. Make sure they are qualified. Even if they know the agile curriculum, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand how to deliver the material for optimum student engagement, learning, and retention.

A good place to start would be at the Project Management Institute. A globally recognized organization known for delivering great courses and information on project management. Due to the pandemic, most courses are now being offered online, giving individuals more choice in training options.  

Online courses can help you learn the value of popular agile practices

Can I teach myself agile?

Absolutely! You can learn agile by yourself. You can read many books to develop a good understanding of agile frameworks and become a real expert in agile methodologies.

Is agile in demand?

Yes, agile certainly is in demand in software development. Most software development organizations utilize agile in some form, so agile should be part of your skill-set. Agile is a must-have skill for any developer should they want to diversify to another industry or secure their future in software development.

Agile Project Management

To create a new product and launch it successfully to the market is not a simple task these days. First, there is a traditional procedure you must follow. It starts with planning, then continues with execution and monitoring, and finally culminating in the closure stage.

At first, you must have everything mapped out and expect your project to run smoothly. Nonetheless, in today’s fast-moving business world, things often don’t go as smoothly as expected, especially in an office environment where changes can occur at every stage of the project life cycle. 

Unless your team members or the company is flexible and has a way of handling changes, you risk continuously delaying the project delivery and becoming less competitive in the market. However, to avoid that, the following are the concepts of agile project development, an alternative approach to managing your clients’ projects which focuses on:

· Working on small batches

· Visualizing processes to create transparency

· Collaborative work with your client, and

· Getting feedback as fast as possible  

This enables you to quickly adapt to changing requirements and deliver higher-quality products to better satisfy your client’s needs. Agile is a fast way of thinking about collaborative problem-solving and an approach that individuals apply to modern-day project management.

An agile team that uses agile frameworks

Final Word

The agile methodology is an ideal approach to ensure fast product delivery and flexibility in software development. It is an iterative process to release a working product regularly in continuous development.

We live in an ever-changing industry where client demands are essential for the success of projects. The secret of fast delivery in the market is to follow agile development while also embracing its frameworks.

Agile is about responding to clients’ feedback as soon as possible without delaying the project’s delivery date. Understand what your project requirement’s needs are and where your system is getting it wrong. Agile practices could be the answer to all your structural problems.

Delivering value through the kanban and scrum practices.

About the author: Joe Silk -

Joseph is a Start-up Consultant, Copywriter & Business Owner with 9 years of PQE. He is extremely client-centric, able to work on a wide range of topics and deliver high-quality standards on projects of all sizes for clients all over the world. View on Linkedin

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