If businesses want to evolve with the rapid pace of digital change today, they must work to increase efficiency with technology wherever possible. For many, that means adopting agile across the business. It’s especially important for IT companies to apply Agile Principles to the software development life cycle of the project.
1. Agile methodology
Agile methodology is a type of project management process, mainly used for software development, where demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers.
Agile methodology begins with clients describing how the end product will be used and what problem it will solve. This clarifies the customer’s expectations for the project team. Once the work begins, teams cycle through a process of planning, executing, and evaluating — which might just change the final deliverable to fit the customer’s needs better. Continuous collaboration is key, both among team members and with project stakeholders, to make fully-informed decisions.
The term was introduced in the “Agile Manifesto”, which was published in February of 2001. The authors of the Agile Manifesto chose “Agile” as the label for the whole idea because that word represented the adaptiveness and response to change which was so important to their approach.
2. Manifesto for Agile Software Development
The Agile Manifesto is a declaration of the values and principles expressed in agile methodology. The Agile Manifesto for software development comprises 4 foundational values and 12 principles that serve as a guide for people in agile software development.
Here are the 4 main values of agile:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Twelve Principles are the guiding principles for the methodologies that are included under the title “The Agile Movement.” They describe a culture in which change is welcome, and the customer is the focus of the work. They also demonstrate the movement’s intent as described by Alistair Cockburn, one of the signatories to the Agile Manifesto, which is to bring development into alignment with business needs.
The twelve principles of agile software include:
- Customer satisfaction
- Early and continuous delivery
- Embrace change
- Frequent delivery
- Collaboration of businesses and developers
- Motivated individuals
- Face-to-face conversation
- Functional products
- Technical excellence
- Self-organized teams
- Regulation, reflection and adjustment
3. Key Agile methodologies
Agile is an umbrella term for several methods and practices. Let’s look at some of the popular methodologies.
Scrum. An iterative and incremental framework for project management mainly deployed in agile software development. The scrum methodology emphasizes functional software, the flexibility to change along with emerging business realities, communication, and collaboration. Created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber (who were also part of the 17 individuals who cemented the Agile Manifesto).
Kanban. A highly visual method popularly used in agile project management. It paints a picture of the workflow process, with an aim to identify any bottlenecks early on in the process so that a higher quality product or service is delivered. Its six general practices are: Visualization, Limiting work in progress, Flow management, Making policies explicit, Using feedback loops, Collaborative or experimental evolution.
Extreme Programming (XP). Based on the five values of communication, simplicity, feedback, courage, and respect, XP is a framework that aims to produce a higher quality of life for the development team, as well as a higher quality product, through a collection of engineering practices.
Crystal. Comprises a family of agile methodologies that include Crystal Clear, Crystal Yellow, and Crystal Orange. Their unique characteristics are guided by factors such as team size, system criticality, and project priorities. Key components include teamwork, communication, and simplicity, as well as reflection to regularly adjust and improve the development process. This agile framework points out how each project may require a tailored set of policies, practices, and processes to meet the project’s specific characteristics.
Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). An agile methodology that focuses on the full project lifecycle. It was created in 1994 after users of the Rapid Application Development (RAD) wanted more governance and discipline to this iterative way of working. Based on eight principles, its philosophy is ‘that any project must be aligned to clearly defined strategic goals and focus upon early delivery of real benefits to the business.
Feature-Driven Development (FDD). FDD is a lightweight iterative and incremental software development process. With an objective to deliver tangible, working software in a timely manner, it is an agile methodology that entails specific, very short phases of work, which are to be accomplished separately per feature.
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