Over the last few years there has been a shift in the world of software development that you likely have heard of called Agile methodology. Within Agile are multiple methodologies that all share similar principles and defining qualities such as adaptive planning, continuous improvement, and early delivery.

However, Agile methodology is still relatively unknown for many outside of the tech world. Even though close to 94% of companies use an Agile framework in some form, most are still unaware of the benefits that Agile can have to them and their organization.

In this article we are going to break down Agile methodology and go over why we believe your business should adopt the methods we are about to cover for increase business efficiency. Let’s get started.

agile methodology

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile methodology began with the Agile manifesto and over the years has grown into a series of different frameworks for development. As we previously mentioned, this manifesto was centered around the adaptability to change throughout the process.

In practice this means that it is almost impossible to know what kind of end product you are going to create when you begin your development project. It also means that Agile methodology alone is not enough to create an app or other software the way that it was intended.

Frameworks like Scrum and Kanban (which we will cover shortly) were designed as a way to guide developers through the Agile methodology so that they could monitor and test each element through the process. Before these frameworks, there was not a proper guide for developers, leading to undocumented software and code.

How does the Agile development process work?

The Agile development process is centered around being flexible and collaborative as design teams no longer have the luxury of taking their time bringing software to market. As the world rapidly changes, so will our technology. Thus, the Agile process is focused on getting the right technology built in the most efficient way possible.

There are many different frameworks which developers work with depending on the project and we are about to get into this. However, as we go through them there are a few tenets of Agile that should first be mentioned:

  • Individuals and interactions > process and tools.
  • Working software > comprehensive documentation.
  • Responding to change > sticking to the plan.
  • Collaboration > negotiation.

Each of these tenets need to be understood and followed for you to get the most out of your Agile development.

scrum methodology

Agile Methodologies

Like most business processes, Agile methodologies are not one-size-fits-all and should be chosen depending on the type of project you are working on. While there are many different processes (laid out here), today we are just going to review the two most prevalent: Scrum and Kanban.

Scrum

Scrum is a lightweight Agile project management framework with broad applicability across many types of projects. The bulk of Scrum is centered around managing and controlling iterative and incremental projects of all types. It has become popular in the software development community due to its simplicity and proven productivity.

With Scrum, the “Product Owner” works closely with the team to identify and prioritize what is called the “Product Backlog.” The product backlog consists of features, bug fixes, and anything else that needs to be done in order to have a function software system. Each of these aspects of the product backlog are handled by different teams who perform “Sprints” to get them done.

Get the Beginner’s Guide to Scrum now! 

Sprints are short bursts of productivity within Scrum that last no longer than 30 days. They are planned out in Scrum planning meetings and focus on completing a series of tasks in a short time period. Within a sprint, no additional functionality can be added by anyone outside of the team. Once the sprint is done, the product backlog is reprioritized (if necessary) and the next set of functionality is set for the next sprint.

Scrum is praised by many due to these sprints which allow the project to go wherever makes the most sense. Just know that the final product might look very different to what you envisioned at the beginning of the process.

Kanban

The Kanban method is used by organizations that are looking to emphasize continual delivery and not overburden the development team. Like Scrum, Kanban is an agile development process designed to help teams work more effectively.

Kanban is based on 3 basic principles:

  • Visualize what you do today: seeing everything in context can be very informative.
  • Limit the amount of work in progress: this helps with the workflow, as teams don’t start something they can’t finish within the allotted time.
  • Enhance flow: when something is completed, the next item on the list is pulled to be worked on.

Continuous collaboration and active, ongoing learning and improving are the hallmarks of this Agile methodology.

Agile development best practices

Now that you have a good understanding of popular Agile methodologies, we want to make sure that no matter which development process you choose, you can get the most out of it. This is why we have put together a few Agile development best practices to get you started with the best foot forward.

  • Start testing ASAP: Whenever you can begin testing throughout your development, do it. The more that you test, the better your final product would be.
  • Test as much as possible: Yes, like Fight Club, this is worth saying twice. Testing is massively important to software development, but especially in the Agile world.
  • Make communication a priority: The quickest way to have an Agile project go off the rails is by not having good communication. Make sure that the team knows how important communication or else your developers might be making completely different products.
  • Diversify your team’s skill set: Agile methodology benefits from collaboration and this is only multiplied when your team has differing skill sets. When you are choosing your team, consider which skills each member brings to the table first to avoid unnecessary overlap.
  • Customer comes first: In everything, the customer comes first. Agile was developed to get the best products into customers’ hands, so by ignoring them you are missing the whole point. Put them first and the results will reward you for it.

With these best practices in hand, the next time you work with the Agile methodology you will be even better equipped than you were before. As you continue to read and work more with Agile, the better your projects and products will be!

A Beginner's Guide to Scrum