Agile Methodology

Agile Methodology brings a lot of advantages to the table as compared to the traditional methods of Software Development. No doubt, it is being widely used by companies all over the globe. The methodology has changed the entire way of Software Development. Now, the methods are far more advanced and the processes are extremely enhanced as compared to the traditional methods. And, in such a fast-moving world, companies need something exactly like Agile Methodology to not just stay in business but to make it profitable too. In this article on Agile Methodology, you shall be learning everything that there is to know about Agile and Agile Methodology.

What is Agile?

Agile is a continuous iterative and incremental approach used in the Project Management methodology for Software Development. When we say “continuous iterative” it means that it is easy to improve and make changes with each iteration. And, when we say “incremental approach” it means new things can be added as the project goes from one sprint to another. 

Agile works on the principle of customer satisfaction so today, the teams opt for Agile to make changes suggested by the clients. The approach collates feedback on every change and makes sure they are implemented to the best possible extent at the minimum cost. 

Now, that you know the basics of Agile, let’s have a look at the principles of Agile.

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What is Agile Methodology?

Agile Methodology is an iterative and incremental approach to Software Development. Here, the project is broken down into several steps or iterations. Every iteration in Agile Development has a fixed set of tasks and it usually takes 1 to 4 weeks to complete. 

The methodology focuses on continuous testing, continuous integration and continuous improvement. The stakeholders are involved throughout the process and provide their feedback on each iteration. 

The collaboration begins as soon as the process of planning and designing begins and continues till the final product is delivered. Keeping all the principles in mind, Agile Methodology ensures that the end product is well suited to the demands of the customer and does well with respect to the market.

Principles of Agile

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is one of the main principles of Agile. The customer is involved all through the process so they don’t feel left out. They are always welcome to give feedback which is accepted and implemented which keeps them satisfied and makes them believe in the Agile process.

Welcome Change

Agile is open to changes or welcomes changes at any time in the development process. With the business requirements changing every day, customers can come up with changes at any time of the project, even in the development phase. This not only improved customer satisfaction but also gave customers a competitive advantage. 

Deliver Frequently

Agile focuses on delivering the project frequently, which varies from two to four weeks or two to four months. This frequency in delivery enables customers to give their feedback more frequently which in turn improves the project.

Work Together

Teams work closely in the Agile way of working. The team members understand the importance of working together and how much value they can add to the project if they work in close collaboration with each other. 

Motivated Team

The agile method focuses on working with a motivated team as they are more likely to deliver an outstanding project in less turnaround time. Now, the teams stay motivated with the Agile way of working as they know their set of work, and their target, and there is a great amount of transparency. 

Face-to-face

One of the principles of Agile suggests that there should be face-to-face conversations. This is the most effective and efficient way of communicating, especially when it comes to the development team. 

Working Software

Agile doesn’t focus much on documentation as its primary focus is working software. This saves time for developers as they do not have to invest time in making notes and they can utilise their entire potential in developing the functionalities of the software.

Constant Pace

Agile focuses on Constant Pace as it is the way to Sustainable Development. The process asks all the involved stakeholders to work together at a constant pace to build a healthy environment. 

Good Design

Agile focuses on putting in a lot of effort and implementing all its applications in designing and then continuously improving that design. Since the process is continuous, it makes sure that the product is simple, understandable, and best concerning the market standards. 

Simplicity

Agile believes in the principle of “Simplicity” and defines it as “the art of maximizing the work not done.” This means the Simplicity principle not only reduces the complexity of the project but also reduces the amount of waste and makes the process more agile.

Self-Organization

Here, the Agile teams work on the principle of Self-Organisation, i.e. they do not require a manager to assign them to work, instead, they know their set of work. These teams pick up their set of work and take care of all the responsibilities that come with it. 

Reflect and Adjust

The final principle of Agile focuses on reflecting and adjusting, which states that at regular intervals reflect on how they can perform better and once they know that, they try to adjust to the new behaviour. 

Now, that you know the principles of Agile, you are all set to learn about the basics of Agile Methodology. 

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Agile Frameworks

Agile Methodology is a huge umbrella that has got a lot of frameworks. Here, frameworks or Agile Frameworks refer to the methods or approaches in which the Agile methodology can be implemented. These frameworks enable the team or an organisation to plan, manage, and execute the work.

Typically there are two types of Agile Frameworks - Agile frameworks for teams and Agile frameworks for organisations. A framework must be opted for by an organisation or a team depending on the nature of work and considering all the other scenarios. 

Different Agile Frameworks used today include:
Scrum

Scrum is one of the most popular Agile Frameworks used for teams. The framework enables teams to work in close collaboration with each other encouraging teams to learn from their problems and continuously improve no matter what. Scrum teams work in sprints, which refers to the time-bound iterations varying from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. 

Extreme Programming (XP)

Another team-level Agile framework is Extreme Programming or XP. As the name suggests it has its core coming from Software Development and shortens sprints making the releases more frequent. Extreme Programming introduces several strict core values like Simplicity, Communication, Consistent Feedback, and Respect.


Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

Feature Driven Development or FDD is an Agile Framework that uses Software Development to develop features. It is a framework that needs customers to be a part of the initial planning process and the iteration retrospectives process so that the features can be developed accordingly in small iterations and can be released frequently too. 

Crystal Methodology

Crystal Methodology is an Agile framework that gives space to team members to experiment with their methods rather than being rigid. The methodology is mostly opted for by developers working from a single workspace who are keen to find their own way to solve a problem and want to make use of unique methods to make the project stand out.

Kanban 

Kanban is a framework that enables teams to stay on the same page by enabling real-time communication and full transparency. Here, in this framework everything is displayed on a Kanban board, where team members can see the status of each task, for example, the tasks are marked as “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done”.

Lean

Lean is an Agile framework that aims to optimise the existing process by decreasing the wastage happening in the process. The framework enables teams to deliver at a more rapid rate by optimising the overall flow which improves the overall focus. Here, in Lean the team doesn’t stick to traditional methods, but rather tries to reduce the complexities in the already existing flow of steps.

Behaviour Driven Development (BDD)

Behaviour Driven Development or BDD is an Agile framework which promotes collaboration between different stakeholders involved in Software Engineering. It enables the Software Developers, Quality Assurance team, and Customer Success team to work in close collaboration with each other on the software project. 

Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM)

Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM) is an Agile framework that focuses on the overall project life cycle and its main aim is to make sure that the product delivers on its set agenda. The framework also enables the business stakeholders to give feedback on the product along with asking for some changes whenever required.

Adaptive Software Development (ASD)

As the name suggests, Adaptive Software Development or ASD is an Agile framework that enables teams to adapt to changes or new requirements or the evolving market in the process of Software Development. The adaptive framework has three phases in its life cycle: Speculation, Collaboration, and Learning.

Now, that you know all about Agile Frameworks, it is important to know different tools that will enable you to implement Agile in your work. 

Agile Methodology Tools

Now, what is needed to implement Agile Methodology are Agile Tools. These tools enable the teams to stay on the same page and monitor progress. The main agenda of using Agile Methodology tools is to keep an eye on things that might act as a roadblock in the rapid growth of the product. The tools help in improving the overall process and make sure that whatever the lags are, they are cleared.

Once you have your Agile tools, you can use them to plan properly concerning your product requirements. The requirements can be divided into iterations and then the tools can help the team manage these iterations most effectively and efficiently as possible.

The most important and most popular segment of tools being used in the industry today include:

Source Control Tools

Source Control Tools help Agile teams be flexible, as they are supposed to be. Tools like GIT, allow developers to stay on the same page and enable them to keep their code organised. No matter if the developers follow different paths but they can always merge their codes using source control tools. Other popular Source Control Tools include - Mercurial, CVS, and Subversion.

Continuous Integration Tools

Continuous Integration is one of the guiding principles of Agile Methodology. So, Continuous Integration Tools are one of the most important segment tools in Agile. These tools ensure the smooth working of the team by adding an extra layer when the code is being committed. Also, Continuous Integration tools keep an eye on the smooth working of the software by running unit codes as soon as the new codes are added. Some of the most prominently used Continuous Integration tools include Jenkins, Hudson, and Integrity.

Team Management Tools

Team Management Tools as the name suggests is used to manage Agile teams. Now, there are a lot of different Team Management tools that perform outstandingly well in their respective domains. For example:

Agile Manager is a popular team management tool that helps teams to be organised from the beginning and enables them to plan and deploy the code smoothly.

Similarly, Agile Bench is popular to keep an eye on the individual work being done by each team member. 

Other popular Team Management Tools are Active Collab, JIRA Agile, and VersionOne.

Now, that you know so much about Agile Methodology, its frameworks and tools, it is about time to know about the Roles in Agile Methodologies. 

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Roles in Agile Methodologies

An Agile team is supposed to be always on their toes. All the team members must have their own specific roles and contribute to the overall development of the project. These teams are small, lean, and result-oriented. 

There are three major roles in an Agile Team:

Team Members

Team Members are actually people who make them the entire team. All the people who are involved in different sets of work like the designer, copywriter, engineer, and any other roles are referred to as team members. They are behind every set of work and make sure that the process goes on smoothly.

Scrum Master

Scrum Master is the person who actually leads the entire Agile Development process. He/ She can be referred to as a project manager in this case and is the one that makes sure the feedback flows through, junior members of the team learn in the process, and everything is where it is supposed to be. His/ her typical role involves managing a scrum board, coordinating with all the team members and staying in sync with all the ups and downs of the project.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is the key stakeholder in the Agile Process. This individual is the one who is supposed to have a vision of the end product and how that product will benefit the company in the long run. He/ she is also responsible for managing the product backlog and making sure that every team member understands the importance of the project they are working on. 

Now, the next important thing is to have a look at the advantages of Agile Methodology.

Advantages of Agile Methodology 

The biggest advantages of the Agile Methodology are:

Faster and smaller

Agile Methodology gets the work done faster because of amazing task prioritisation in Agile. The end product is divided into small iterations that reduce the complex functionalities and result in delivering a tested product earlier and more can be built over it in the next iterations.

Customer Centric

Agile Methodology is known to be customer-centric by keeping them in the loop and delivering frequent products. The biggest reason behind the methodology’s popularity is customer satisfaction as they are a part of the process from the beginning and their suggestions and feedback are always taken into consideration. 

Increases Productivity

Another proven advantage of Agile Methodology is the increase in productivity. The transparency that comes with the methodology makes everyone stay on the same page and understand what is exactly happening which doesn’t let team members deviate from their path. 

Extremely Reliable

Agile is always the most reliable and trustworthy methodology as the teams are well organised, they are clear about their goals and are not bound by rigid principles. Since the project is divided into small deliverable parts, every part can be thoroughly tested and needful can be integrated which makes the product even more reliable.

Great Flexibility

Agile Methodology makes the entire process extremely smooth. Since the teams are small and the process is not rigid, there is a lot of room for experiments and communication. The methodology understands that market demands can change which can change the product requirements and there could be many other reasons too. So, the Agile Methodology makes it possible to change the requirement and make amends according to customer or market needs.

Risk Reduction 

Now, when everything is continuously tested and the feedback is continuously integrated, it reduces the risk of the product failing. Also, when all the stakeholders are on the same page, it reduces the chances of the project going off track. Agile Methodology enables the teams to take quick calls wherever needed and focus on what’s important whenever multiple things happen. 

Now, that you know all about the advantages of Agile Methodology, it is equally important to know the disadvantages too. 

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

The disadvantages of Agile Methodology include:

Fragmented Output

What tends to be an advantage for Agile Methodology can act as a disadvantage too. The Methodology brings the product to the market at a faster pace in iterations, so when the final product comes to the market it often comes as a fragmented output.

Less Documentation 

Agile Methodology believes in getting the work done most smoothly and productively. While doing that, there is hardly any room for documentation, so whatever is done as a part of the Agile Methodology is not on paper which adversely impacts the project.

Inefficient Resource Planning 

In Agile Methodology, since the teams are unaware of the final product, the team begins the Agile process with minimum resources. And, when the output is unknown, it becomes extremely difficult to estimate resources, cost, and time needed in project building.

No Finite End

You know Agile Methodology doesn’t need a lot of planning, which makes the functionalities of the product change throughout the project. So, when that happens and the changes are continuously integrated, no matter what you never know what the final product must look like. 

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Conclusion 

By now, you would be well versed with everything you need to know about Agile Methodology. In the beginning, you learnt about the basics of Agile and its principles. Once you were well versed in what Agile is, you went on to see what it really means with Agile Methodology. 

To have a better understanding of the Agile Methodology, you learnt about different Agile Frameworks that are used by industries and teams today. Furthermore, you checked the tools to implement Agile Methodology, where you understood the concept of Source Control Tools, Continuous Integration Tools, and Team Management Tools. 

Then to understand the implementation of Agile Methodology, you went on to check different roles in Agile Methodology. Finally, when you knew all about Agile and Agile Methodology you concluded with learning the advantages and disadvantages of Agile Methodology.

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Manikanth
Manikanth
Research Analyst
As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 6 steps in the Agile Methodology are:

1. Product Planning - The initial step is to understand what the team is going to do and what is expected of them at the end of the Agile life cycle.

2. Roadmap Creation - The Roadmap refers to the map of all the features that the project will have and how the team plans on building these features in sprints.

3. Release Planning - Features are released at the end of each sprint.

4. Sprint Planning - There are sprint planning meetings before any sprint in which it is finalised what each person will achieve at the end of this sprint and how.

5. Daily Stand-ups - These are small daily meetings in which all the team members talk about what they achieved the day before and what they plan on achieving today.

6. Sprint Review and Retrospective - Two meetings happen after every sprint. First is the Sprint Review which is with all the project stakeholders where the final output is kept forth. Second, is the Sprint Retrospective meeting which is again with the project stakeholders to discuss what went well, what didn’t go well, and how was the workload on each team member.

The 5 phases of Agile are:

1. Envision - creating a vision for the Agile project.

2. Speculate - exploring possibilities and brainstorming on different segments to ensure project progress.

3. Explore - exploring focuses on delivering the feature of the project by managing the workload, creating a team or a community and managing that community.

4. Adapt - adapting to the changes in requirement or if any modifications come in the way.

5. Close - analysing the final product, gathering all the knowledge and putting the project to an end.

 The Agile Life Cycle refers to the iterative and incremental life cycle that an Agile project goes through.
The Agile Life Cycle consists of six phases:

1. Concept - requirements of the clients are discussed and hence documentation is made to outline the features that the end product must have.

2. Inception - the product owner looks for the best resources to make the project successful.

3. Iteration - keeping in mind all the requirements and the feedback coming from stakeholders, the developers collaborate with the designers to construct the project.

4. Release - first, the test team checks if all the functionalities are working properly and finally the final iteration is released into production.

5. Maintenance - the development team ensures the smooth working of the product by resolving any bugs or lags that might exist.

6. Retirement - the system might go into the retirement phase under two circumstances: first, if the system is no longer in use, i.e. it becomes obsolete for the company. Second, if that software is replaced by some other software. If the latter happens, then the development team must notify the customers about the retirement, and if there is any replacement for that product then the team must guide the customers to migrate to it.

 Agile is a methodology or an approach used in project management. The methodology is a huge umbrella that has got a lot of principles, frameworks, and tools to build a product according to customer needs. 

WHEREAS

Scrum is a part of the huge Agile umbrella, i.e. it is one of the Agile frameworks in which the work is divided into sprints and is delivered every 2 to 4 weeks.

 The three key elements or factors of Agile Methodology are:

1. Teamwork - Agile Methodology divides the teams into smaller segments depending on the nature of the work. Now, when the teams are divided depending on their strengths and expertise, all the team members must work in close collaboration with each other to yield maximum output.

2. Communication - Communication is always the key in Agile Methodology. This element makes sure that all the team members are on the same page and that there is transparency among them.

3. Metrics-Driven - The Agile Projects are governed by numbers, i.e. the numerical data shows the progress or downfall of the project. It is important to measure the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and also to figure out the correct delivery date of the project.