The Agile methodology has benefited software development for many years, enabling collaboration through an iterative process that speeds time-to-market and normally results in higher quality applications. But what is the Agile software development methodology?
While it’s likely that most readers are already familiar with Agile, others may just be starting out in their development careers. So before we go on to discuss five best practices for agile teams, let’s have a look at the basic concept of this methodology.
What is Agile Software Development?
Agile software development is a distinctive approach to application development that stresses incremental delivery, continuous planning, continuous learning and enhanced team collaboration. Four main frameworks guide application development in Agile, namely Scrum, Kanban, Lean and XP.
Development teams create Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) that undergo a number of iterations within one or more of these frameworks. Feedback is accumulated throughout the product development process and implemented continually before final approval is made.
A report from Capterra shows that nearly 71% of organizations report using the Agile software development methodology occasionally or regularly. Agile software development emphasizes flexibility, speed and regularly planned updates throughout the application development lifecycle. In contrast, the classic Waterfall approach focuses on a step-by-step process for software testing and development.
Agile vs Waterfall – Understanding The Difference
Let’s take a look at some of the main points of difference between Agile methodology in contrast to the Waterfall approach.
– Is flexible i.e. changes can happen continually during the product development process
– Takes an incremental approach
–Testing and development take place concurrently
– Emphasizes a high degree of synchronization and team coordination
– Requirements are expected to change and evolve
– Has no scope for changes once the product development starts
– Is a successional design process
– Testing is only done in the testing stage
– Does not prioritize team collaboration and synchronization
– Changes are predefined, so changes are not expected in any case
5 Golden Practices for Agile Teams In 2022
Changing times call for changing measures, and the same principle applies to Agile software development. For example, even the most efficient testers and developers need to enhance their interpersonal skills to deliver high-quality products and value to users.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best Agile practices that every software development team should use to reap dividends in a short time.
1. Scrum Project Management
Scrum is considered one of the most popular Agile frameworks today and is used for software project management as well as product/application development. Its focus is on tackling complex adaptive problems with a cross-functional team that collaborates and works as a single unit to achieve a common goal within 3 – 4 weeks.
Some of the best practices for scrum implementation are as follows:
- Practice stand-ups. Stand-ups are short meetings to help every team member stay on the same page regarding crucial product updates and overall progress. Daily team meetings, stand-ups are not expected to last longer than 15 minutes.
- Set a communication protocol for teams. Maintaining a smooth flow of communication is the key to the Scrum framework. Establishing a communication protocol for all team members ensures a consistent flow of important information at the right time.
- Create a product backlog and product vision together. Creating both a product backlog and a product vision as a team improves efficiency. Mutual agreement and understanding fuels cooperation, as everyone’s on the same platform.
- Use burndown charts for Sprints. Burndown charts present a graphical representation of work progress, highlighting completed and unfinished work. These charts help project teams identify potential scope creep that might occur.
2. Kanban Project Management
Kanban project management is used by companies of all sizes for efficient workflow management. By visualizing the progress of team work, Kanban provides a simple way to see which tasks are in which stage. The Kanban board is divided into various stages per your workflow requirements. A simple drag-and-drop feature allows users to change the stage of the task and provides a mechanism for notifying other team members of changing task status.
Some best Agile practices for Kanban project management are as follows:
- Workflow visualization. Using boards and cards make it simple and easy for agile teams to monitor tasks progress and identify bottlenecks. You can drag and drop tasks and move them from one stage to another.
- Continuous feedback. Team members continually evaluate progress and provide feedback to help identify problems during the software development cycle and resolve them in a timely manner.
- Monitoring the flow of work. Monitoring workflow progress helps the team sync the progress of their individual work with the pace of the overall project and process steps.
- Constraining work in progress. Limiting the number of in-progress tasks makes it easy for teams to understand exactly how much work they need to complete within set timeframes.
3. Motivation Matters
Motivated teams and individuals always outproduce demoralized people. Hence, Agile software development teams should be enthusiastic about their work and supportive of each other while collaborating to achieve team goals. Tuckman’s theory of group development outlines that teams go through the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing.
The four aforementioned stages enable teams to tackle challenges and build momentum as team members form collaborative relationships. Productive and result-oriented Agile teams have highly skilled individuals. Therefore, project managers need to motivate Agile teams to keep them performing to their full potential.
4. Prioritize tasks in the product backlog
Project managers must identify which of the various product backlog prioritization techniques works best for their team. For example, some teams use the HiPPO or Highest Paid Person’s Opinion to guide decisions. However, bringing salaries into the team may be counterproductive, as team members may find discrepancies discouraging.
On the other hand, there are Agile software development teams that prefer to implement MoSCOW (Must-haves, Should haves, Could haves, Won’t have). This technique enables Agile teams to categorize tasks according to their priority. However, this prioritization method does not consider product specifics.
Kano model is another widely used product backlog task prioritization method that is based on customers’ preferences and is ideal for highly-competitive markets. This method prioritizes tasks from the product backlog into four categories of features based on the degree of customer satisfaction.
- Performance features identify increased functionalities that lead to increased customer satisfaction.
- Must-be/Basic features identify those features that customers consider minimal product requirements – the lack of which kills your product before it gets started.
- Attractive features include those that delight customers when present, but won’t disappoint them when the product doesn’t have them.
- Indifferent features have no impact on customer satisfaction and should be reconsidered for inclusion in the development process.
5. Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto lays down the key values and core principles driving the Agile philosophy, helping software development teams work more efficiently. The Agile Manifesto outlines four important values and 12 principles. Let’s take a look at four values, remembering that value judgements place emphasis on importance, even though all elements remain necessary for good product development.
- Individuals and interactions over process and tools
- Working software over detailed documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiations
- Responding to change over following a plan
12 principles of the Agile Manifesto:
- Ensure customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery
- Embrace and implement changing requirements at any stage of the project
- Deliver working software quickly
- Business owners and developers must work together
- Create a team of driven individuals and give them the right environment
- Seamless communication
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Agile processes promote sustainable development
- Regular attention to technical excellence
- Simplicity is essential
- Self-organizing teams
- Regular self-assessment
While Agile teams work hard to consistently produce high-quality results, embracing change and keeping up with current trends in software development will improve team productivity. The five best practices can help Agile teams of any size build better, high-quality products with greater speed and efficiency. Like most modern processes, Agile encourages people to question the status quo and seek constant improvement from themselves, their teammates and the overall process.
- 5 Best Practices That Help with Agile Software Development - February 2, 2022