Hey John, do you remember the good old days when software development felt like trying to catch a running train? Those traditional methods fell short in terms of achieving the desired results.
Oh yeah, it was confusing and slow. Waterfall method, wasn’t it?
You got it. But guess what? There’s a new method in the software world now – Agile methodology.
Really? How does it work?
Well, in this blog, we will explore Agile methodology. It is like teamwork, where developers and clients are in perfect sync. Let’s leave behind the old “one-size-fits-all” plans and embrace a way of working that’s all about collaboration, quick changes, and happy users.
Got it, so it’s like the medicine for the old problems, right?
Exactly! We’ll dig deep into how Agile works in this blog– the simple rules it follows, the cool stuff it lets us do, and how it’s shaking up the software development lifecycles. So get ready, John, we’re about to unlock the secrets of Agile methodology!
Understanding Agile Methodology
Hello guys, in this blog we will take a closer look at what Agile methodology is all about and see how software development teams are getting things done in an efficient way. We will start off the blog by understanding the definition of Agile methodology and its usefulness, then look at the four values of Agile and the twelve principles of Agile. In the subsequent sections of this blog, we will explore a few Agile frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Software Development along with best practices to be adopted while working the Agile way.
1. What is Agile methodology?
The Agile method is a flexible and collaborative approach to software development.
Let’s take the ‘baking the cake’ analogy to understand this.
You are baking a cake in a professional bakery where customers can watch you and give you feedback as you go.
Here’s how you’d bake a cake the Agile way:
- Planning: At the start, you would have a basic idea of the cake you are about to bake. In software development, this is the initial planning phase where you lay out a broad vision of the project and break it down into smaller, manageable tasks.
- Iterative Work: Rather than baking the whole cake at once, you bake it layer by layer. In software terms, we call these layers iterations or sprints. Each sprint focuses on a different aspect of the software.
- Collaboration: You work in an open kitchen where you can interact with other chefs, sharing ideas and helping each other out. Agile emphasizes the same kind of teamwork and collaboration among developers.
- Regular Meetings: Just like how you might have daily check-ins with your team about the day’s menu, Agile teams have daily stand-ups or scrum meetings to discuss their progress and any roadblocks they might be facing.
- Continuous Feedback: You take a bit of your cake batter and give it to your customers to taste. They give you feedback, maybe it needs more sugar or a hint of lemon. Similarly, Agile involves continuous feedback from customers during the development process, ensuring the final product meets their expectations.
- Adaptability: Based on the feedback, you adjust your recipe. Agile works in a similar way, allowing the team to adapt and make changes based on feedback and evolving requirements.
- Testing and Improvement: You continuously taste the batter and adjust the ingredients. This is much like the ongoing testing in Agile, where issues are caught early and improvements are made continuously to deliver a high-quality product.
- Incremental Delivery: Lastly, instead of waiting for the entire cake to be baked, you serve one layer at a time. In Agile, this equates to delivering usable parts of the software as soon as they’re ready, allowing customers to start using and benefiting from the software sooner.
The Agile method is like baking in front of a live audience. It’s about flexibility, collaboration, and delivering a delicious cake, or rather, working software in smaller increments.
So we can define Agile methodology as a way of working on projects where you do a little bit at a time and keep checking if it’s going well. If things need to change, you can change them easily. It emphasizes iterative progress, frequent feedback, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. In Agile, work is divided into smaller parts, completed in short cycles, and refined based on continuous feedback from team members and stakeholders. This iterative process allows for faster delivery of valuable results and encourages teamwork, customer involvement, and continuous improvement.
2. Software development example with Agile methodology
Let’s understand it better with a real-world example. Consider you are developing a shopping app. Following will be the steps that you will adopt to plan your whole shopping app software development project.
- Planning: Your team is working on the shopping app. In the beginning, you sit down and discuss what the app should do, things such as search for products, add them to a cart, make purchases, and get product reviews.
- Sprints: Instead of building the entire app at once, you break the work into “sprints,” which are like short phases. Each sprint is about two weeks. In the first sprint, your goal is to create the product search feature.
- Daily Stand-ups: Every morning, your team has a quick meeting to share what you did yesterday, what you’re doing today, and if there are any roadblocks. This helps everyone stay on the same page.
- Building: During the sprint, you focus on building the product search feature. You create screens where users can type in keywords and see search results.
- Feedback: After a week, you show the search feature to your team and some potential users. They like it, but they suggest adding filters for sorting results by price and popularity. This feedback is valuable.
- Adjusting: You listen to the feedback and decide to add the suggested filters. Since Agile allows changes, you can easily adjust your plan to include these improvements.
- Review: At the end of the two-week sprint, you review what you’ve done with your team. The search feature, now with filters, is working well. Everyone agrees it’s a good step forward.
- Next Sprint: In the next sprint, you focus on the cart feature. You plan, build, get feedback, and adjust, just like before.
- Repeating: You continue working in sprints, steadily adding features and improvements. In each sprint, you refine what you have built based on feedback and changing needs.
- Complete App: After several sprints, you have a full shopping app with search, cart, and purchase features. Because you’ve been getting feedback and making changes along the way, the app is user-friendly and helpful.
In this example, Agile methodology helped you create a better shopping app by breaking the work into smaller parts, getting input from users, and adjusting as needed. You are building a complex project step by step, making sure it’s useful and high-quality at every stage.
To adopt any method, we need to follow certain steps or a set of guiding instructions. This way we can make the most of the method. Similarly, agile methodology has an Agile manifesto which is nothing but a set of guiding principles that outlines its core values and functional concepts.
3. Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto consists of four key values that emphasize collaboration, flexibility, and customer-centricity and 12 principles that to adopt during a software development process. These are as follows.
3.1 Four Values
- People Matter More Than Tools – This value emphasizes the importance of people working together effectively. Agile teams prioritize communication, teamwork, and collaboration among team members and stakeholders. While processes and tools have their place, the focus should be on human interactions to drive project success.
- Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation – Agile places importance on achieving concrete outcomes. It emphasizes the significance of producing functional and usable software over creating extensive documentation. While documentation is important, the primary goal is to deliver working software that provides real value to customers and users.
- Talking to Customers is Super Important – Agile puts customers at the forefront. It stresses the need to collaborate closely with customers throughout the project’s lifecycle. Instead of rigidly adhering to initial contracts or agreements, Agile teams seek continuous feedback and adapt the project based on customer needs and preferences.
- Responding to Change over Following a Plan – Agile acknowledges that change is inevitable. It encourages teams to be adaptable and open to change, even late in the project. Instead of rigidly sticking to a predefined plan, Agile teams embrace changes that lead to better outcomes and customer satisfaction.
These four values form the foundation of the Agile Manifesto, guiding software development teams to prioritize human interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and adaptability. They provide a clear direction for teams to create high-quality products while remaining responsive to evolving requirements and circumstances.
3.2 Twelve Principles
- Keep Customers Happy by Delivering Often: Give useful software to customers more often, so they can give feedback and you can improve.
- Be Ready for Changes: It’s okay if the plan changes. Being flexible helps the customer.
- Give Working Software Regularly: Show the software you make to the customer regularly, so they know what to expect and can suggest changes.
- Work Together with Customers: People who want the software and those making it should talk a lot.
- Trust and Support Your Team: Let the people working on the project decide how to do it. Trust them to do a good job.
- Talk Face-to-Face: When possible, talk directly with your team because it’s the best way to understand each other.
- See Progress with Working Software: You know you’re moving forward when you have working software.
- Don’t Rush Too Much: Work at a steady pace that you can keep up without burning out.
- Keep Things Good and Simple: Make sure the software is well-made and easy to understand.
- Do Only What’s Needed: Focus on doing the important things instead of getting stuck in unnecessary details.
- Let Teams Make Choices: The people doing the work know best how to plan and design it.
- Learn and Improve Regularly: Take time to look back and think about how you can do better next time.
These principles aim to make work more effective, team-friendly, and customer-focused by promoting communication, flexibility, and learning from experience.
Now within the umbrella of Agile, there are several methodologies that have their own approach and practices for implementing Agile principles. Let us discuss a few popular ones here.
4. Agile Methodologies
Scrum is an Agile methodology that helps teams work together to create complex products in a flexible and efficient way. It is a set of rules and practices that make teamwork smoother and product development more adaptable.
Let’s quickly see how Scrum works.
- Roles: Scrum has three main roles:
- Product Owner: The person who represents the customer’s needs and decides what the team should work on next.
- Scrum Master: The person who helps the team follow the Scrum process and removes any obstacles they face.
- Development Team: The group of people who do the actual work, like designing, coding, and testing.
- Backlog: The Backlog is a list of all the things that need to be done to complete the project. These are usually in the form of user stories or tasks.
- Sprints: A Sprint is a short period (usually 1 to 4 weeks) where the team works on a specific set of tasks from the Backlog. It’s like a mini-project within the larger project.
- Sprint Planning: At the start of each Sprint, the team and the Product Owner decide which tasks to work on. They select items from the Backlog that they believe they can finish during the Sprint.
- Daily Stand-ups: Each day during the Sprint, the team meets for a quick stand-up meeting. Each team member answers three questions: What did I do yesterday? What am I doing today? Are there any obstacles in my way?
- Sprint Review: At the end of the Sprint, the team shows what they’ve accomplished to the stakeholders, including the Product Owner. They get feedback and decide what to do next.
- Sprint Retrospective: After the Sprint Review, the team reflects on what went well and what could be improved. They make a plan to work better in the next Sprint.
- Continuous Improvement: Scrum emphasizes continuous learning and improvement. Teams use feedback from stakeholders and their own experiences to refine their work processes.
So scrum divides the work into manageable chunks, encourages collaboration, and allows for changes based on feedback. The regular cycles of planning, working, reviewing, and improving keep the team aligned and the project on track.
Kanban is an Agile method that uses visual boards and cards to manage work. In this, the tasks are organized on a board with columns – each column represents a step in your work. You limit how many tasks are in progress, so things stay manageable. Tasks move from one column to another as they progress. It’s flexible, focuses on smooth flow, and encourages constant improvement.
Kanban is great for adapting to changes quickly and keeping everyone on the same page. It’s like a visual way to manage tasks, making sure everything moves smoothly and efficiently.
4.3 Extreme Programming (XP)
Extreme Programming (XP) is an Agile software development methodology that emphasizes close collaboration among team members, frequent feedback, and high-quality code.
XP introduces practices like pair programming, where two programmers work together on the same task, and test-driven development, where tests are written before code is written to ensure functionality. Continuous integration, small releases, and constant communication with customers are also key components of XP.
XP is built upon five core values that guide its practices:
- Communication: Team members communicate openly and frequently, sharing information and insights to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Simplicity: The simplest solution that fulfills the requirements is preferred. Complexity is minimized to improve clarity and maintainability.
- Feedback: Frequent feedback loops are established to validate assumptions, catch errors early, and make continuous improvements.
- Courage: Team members have the courage to address challenges and make necessary changes to the code or processes to maintain high quality.
- Respect: Respect for both the customers’ needs and the expertise of fellow team members fosters a collaborative and productive environment.
Extreme Programming is particularly suited for small to medium-sized teams working on projects with changing requirements and an emphasis on delivering high-quality software rapidly.
4.4 Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
The Adaptive Project Framework (APF) is an Agile project management methodology designed to handle uncertainty and change. APF breaks projects into phases and iterations, with a focus on continuous learning and delivering prioritized value. APF’s adaptive leadership style ensures that projects can respond effectively to changes, making it a valuable approach for projects in dynamic and uncertain environments.
4.5 Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Feature Driven Development (FDD) is an Agile software development methodology that emphasizes building software features incrementally. FDD breaks down the development process into manageable steps, focusing on designing and building individual features. It’s like constructing a building one room at a time instead of all at once.
Remember that the choice of an Agile methodology depends on the specific needs of a project, the size of the team, the organization’s culture, and other contextual factors. It’s also worth noting that some organizations adopt a blend of methodologies to create a tailored approach that best suits their needs.
Agile methodology has changed the game in software development. It’s like a new way of thinking that focuses on teamwork, being flexible, and making sure what’s created is really valuable. With its different approaches and practices, Agile keeps improving how software is made. It’s all about working closely with customers, being adaptable, and giving them what they need. As technology evolves, Agile keeps guiding how software is built, making sure it’s useful and up-to-date.
To read the previous blog, visit: The Ultimate Guide to Linux Commands for Cloud Engineers
Explore more online AWS courses at: