Changes are happening faster than ever for businesses today. Agile methods acknowledge that this calls for a responsive and flexible form of software development. Agile methods focus on adaptive planning, customer input, and short delivery times. The application of Agile methods to your business could result in reduced project costs and greater customer satisfaction. Let’s dive into the application of Agile to your business.
Agile Methods Definition
There is no set definition for Agile methods. On the contrary, Agile can be based on many values and principles as documented in the Agile Manifesto. All these approaches work toward the central goal of fast and quality software delivery to better serve the client.
The Agile framework refers to the chosen software-development approach. While the approaches vary, they all conform with a general definition of Agile. Popular frameworks include scrum, extreme programing, and dynamic systems development. When organizations consider which framework to adopt, several factors may influence the decision:
- Company size
- Team structure
- Available resources
- Needs of stakeholders
- Structure and size of the product portfolio
Agile Software Development
Agile software development is an iterative process that relies on frequent communication between the developers and the end consumer. Agile teams and employees are self-organized. Management of Agile trusts the teams to reach designated goals without restricting the process.
Agile Product Development
Agile product development follows the same core principles as Agile software development with the following key steps.
- Form the team
- Create the backlogs
- Establish “iterations”
- Conduct risk mitigation
- Conduct scrums
- Conduct testing
- Secure customer input and feedback
MVP Agile stands for minimal viable product and simply refers to the product with the fewest features that can be offered to the customer.
Agile Project Management
Scrum is a common Agile method that is worth examining. In scrum, the product owner makes a prioritized wish list for the Agile project management. Next, the scrum team selects a priority piece called a sprint backlog and organizes its implementation. The team then completes a sprint (usually a 2-4 week period) to accomplish the piece.
The scrum master is the leader of the team and keeps the group on target. At the close of the sprint, the product is shared with the customer and then the process begins again with a new objective.
Agile Vs Waterfall
Before the adoption of Agile, companies used a software development method called waterfall. Waterfall falls short of the requirements of development projects today because it is slower and less iterative. Waterfall follows the process of “plan, design, build, test, deliver” and works best for projects with longer timelines and more stable attributes like creating building structures or cars.
Scaled Agile Framework
The scaled Agile framework is an extension of the Agile methodology that helps larger organizations overcome issues that adversely affect project success. It is a set of organization and workflow patterns that guide an enterprise in scaling Agile methods. The scaled Agile framework addresses the need for multiple teams to work together. There are 9 scaled Agile framework principles (complete description here for more specifics).
- Take the economic view.
- Apply systems thinking.
- Assume variability and preserve options.
- Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles.
- Milestones should be based on objective evaluation of working systems.
- Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths.
- Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning.
- Unlock the intrinsic motivation in workers.
- Decentralize decision-making.
Agile Methodology Steps
The high-level Agile methodology steps are:
Benefits Of Agile
The benefits of Agile occur in 5 main areas of project development and benefit the customer, employees, and overall business. Agile eliminates work that may not meet customer needs by consulting the customer at more points in the development process. This often makes the customer happier, another benefit of Agile, while decreasing the between project assignment and completion. This increases profitability for companies by getting them paid faster.
On the employee side, Agile benefits employees by allowing them more decision-making power. Employees, in the weeds of the development, are best suited to know what a project needs. It goes without saying that Agile eliminates much of the re-work that development projects using waterfall encounter.
Agile Methodology Example
Agile methods take many forms. One Agile methodology example is Kanban, a visual form of managing projects that allows team members to see three statuses of tasks: “To do,” “Doing,” and “Done.”
A further Agile methodology is extreme programming, which focuses on giving the customer what they need in the short term. Offering these immediate results can increase customer satisfaction. Extreme programming – like other Agile methods – focuses on:
- Development in small iterations
- Continuous feedback by allowing the development team to engage directly with customers
- Knowledge-sharing among stakeholders
Can Agile methods be applied to other areas of business? Absolutely! Agile methods can be applied to all areas of business to make processes and projects more efficient. The methods are commonly used in marketing, human resources, and the legal field, to name a few.
Agile methods are found everywhere in the development of software and products. An understanding of Agile methods can help problem solve more efficiently at the project and organizational level. Next time you are on a project, consider applying an Agile framework – or at least, some of its methods!
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