Even though Agile development has been gaining traction as of late, it has existed since the mid-90s. Agile is a software development methodology, but with the impressive results it has produced in that field, other companies started using it outside their IT departments. Now many companies across various industries, such as automotive, construction, engineering, pharmaceutical and any industry where project management is crucial, use it.
So what is Agile development? To put it universally, it is a development methodology where the project is delivered in incremental steps rather than waiting for full development to take place. This allows for a less rigid approach to project delivery, allowing for more adaptability and speed. This is crucial for survival in an ever-changing and fast-paced business environment.
To further understand Agile development, we are going to look at its key features and how it works.
Key Features of Agile development
Here are the key features that Agile development cannot do without:
- Sprints: A Sprint is a concept that is at the core of Agile and allows for faster project delivery with little frustrations. Basically, this is where the team breaks the project down into small, manageable chunks. The team then meets regularly to refine them and, possibly, further break them down.
- Scrum meetings: Scrum meetings are held every day and after each Sprint. Scrum is a framework that allows for highly-collaborative teamwork. These meetings are often held at the beginning of the workday to better orient the team for the day’s work.
- Open interaction: This is where an open and honest interaction about the project management process is held between the team and stakeholders. The point is to have transparency in the process. The team can use Agile project management tools for this, such as Trello, Asana, Jira and Kanbanzie, among others.
- Review of products and services: This is a continuous process where the project is inspected and any adaptation needs are identified. All stakeholders (internal and external) are involved in the review. This is done throughout the lifespan of the project and on a regular basis.
How Agile development works
How Agile development works is different for every organization and industry. However, here is a general picture of how it works in software development:
- A cross-functional team, made up of developers, analysts and testers, is created. A Scrum master is then picked (that is if Scrum is being used), who will act as the main liaison between the product owner/client and the rest of the team.
- The team holds a Sprint planning meeting where the critical steps and projects are fitted into a development cycle of 2-4 weeks. A path to project completion is charted out by breaking down the project requirements into tasks and assigning hours.
- During the previous step, the requirements of the project are moved from the “product backlog” and into the “sprint backlog”. As the needs of the business change, stakeholders provide feedback after constantly reviewing and re-prioritizing the “product backlog”.
- All the “work in progress” is then reviewed during a daily Scrum for 15 minutes. Each team has stand-ups that focus on these three main goals:
- What was achieved yesterday?
- What is to be achieved today?
- What hurdles are you facing?
- In the Daily Scrum, the focus is usually on “task boards” with columns and swim lanes, allowing for better organization. The team can create as many columns as needed and customize them in whichever way makes sense to avoid getting “boxed in”.
- The teams hold Sprint Retrospective and Sprint Review meetings. The main point of the Sprint Review is to “show the world” what has been completed so far and show the completed users stories so that the Product Owner can accept them. The Sprint Retrospective is held to inspect the whole process and then adapt or improve it.
Agile allows for organizations to become fast and adaptable in highly-competitive and evolving business environments. And by looking at the key features, it is easy to see why. It is no wonder then that Agile development has become extremely popular in and out of software development.