Agility used to be a concept associated mainly with sports. It basically defined a complex type of skill that combined the understanding of a certain situation, the decision to perform an action, and the efficiency and speed to accomplish its goal. In a world that for decades now has been growing increasingly competitive, demanding more from our ability to adapt to changing conditions, it is no wonder that this notion has gained major importance to describe and shape business operation methodologies.
The now-famous Agile Manifesto was first published in 2001 and has since gained extensive acceptance within the tech community as a set of practical and effective principles to manage software projects. By implementing agile methodologies, companies procure powerful tools to increase productivity and efficiency, accelerating products’ life cycles and delivering high business value.
The Agile Methodology is a methodology for software development which aligns with values outlined in the Agile manifestos. The agile practices aim to produce the right product by incrementally delivering frequent and incremental portions of functionality, through small self-organizing team members across functions that allow frequent feedback and correction when necessary. Agile frameworks aim to overcome traditional waterfall-driven delivery practices by offering large products for long periods of time.
Instead of focusing on systems, processes, or tools, agile puts interaction at the center. It aims at improving communication and collaboration across different areas, thus encouraging a more thorough integration of the diverse profiles and personalities involved in the most complex projects.
Team members are assigned a certain set of tasks that are designed to be performed in short sprints, at the end of which the completed tasks are verified and passed on to the next sprint. Individual and collective progress is tracked constantly and compared to the previously defined deadlines. It also involves client feedback at different stages so that new requirements can be addressed as swiftly as possible. All these features make agile methods fast, transparent, and greatly effective to ensure high-quality outcomes and client satisfaction.
An additional advantage of agile methods that have become crucial today is how they allow and facilitate remote interaction between agile teams.
This said, there is not a single agile methodology - actually, there are more than 50, each of them leveraging different processes, frameworks, and principles.
Here we will considerably narrow down the scope to take a closer look at 4 of them that are generally considered among the most important: Kanban, Lean Agile Process, Extreme Programming (XP), and Scrum, dedicating special attention to this last one due to its importance and widespread use.
Kanban board is designed to ensure continual delivery. To do this, it leverages a variety of visual methods that contribute to the team’s organization.
The Kanban Board is a panel divided into columns in which the whole process flow of the software development is displayed. This level of visibility allows for the team to follow and review the progress of the project at every step, deliver outcomes every day, and plan ahead on a daily basis.
It also helps business teams avoid committing to more than they are able to produce in a day so that timely deliveries are guaranteed.
Lean is a deeply strategic-oriented methodology that focuses on how a project brings value to a business. Planned workflows aimed at delivering the perfect solution for a certain business goal are created from the start.
Lean is designed to improve efficiency and productivity mainly by reducing redundant tasks and limiting to the strict minimum all those valuable minutes or hours wasted in writing wrong code, reworking, or simply performing tasks inefficiently.
Extreme Programming's main goal is to ensure customer satisfaction at every step, and it achieves this by emphasizing communication and feedback. Sprints (that are basically short development cycles) are leveraged to create highly productive and efficient processes.
With reviews and testing performed on an ongoing basis, this methodology is especially useful when dealing with a situation in which customer demands need to be addressed in a constant and rapid manner.
As we said, we will look into the Scrum methodology a little more deeply, since it is undoubtedly the most popular of them all, and on which we rely mainly to carry out our projects.
Scrum practices are similar to XP in the sense that it aims at ensuring the kind of fluent and permanent communication that allows for customer satisfaction. Clients are encouraged to constantly deliver feedback so that they can be included at every stage of the process of shaping their product.
This is also allowed through the breaking down of the development cycle into short sprints, with the possibility of reviewing and testing partial outcomes at each point.
This segmentation of the development process into several phases produces a series of continuous deliverables, making it easier for project managers to adjust priorities and assign resources according to the changing scenarios that have to be faced during a project.
In the Scrum method, teams are usually split into smaller teams of 5 or 6 members each. Particular project roles such as scrum master and product owner are assigned from the start to the team members and carried out throughout the project.
If we would be asked to guess the reasons for Scrum’s extraordinary popularity, the main reason may be found in the way it is carefully designed to tackle two of the most frequent pain points in software development: changing client requirements and delivery speed.
Since their first appearance in the software development landscape at the beginning of the century, agile methodologies have been constantly gaining popularity and prestige among project managers and the tech community at large.
New agile methodologies are still being created, while the traditional ones are flexible enough to be adapted to different needs, demands, and scenarios.
At Eagerworks, we leverage the flexibility and adaptability of agile methodologies to deliver, through valuable software products, the highest possible business value to our partners and get customer feedback.
If you would like to go deeper into our working approach and find out if we’re a fit, you can start with a 30-min chat.