Introduction to Agile Methodology: A Guide to Distributed Work Environment

Agile, is a project development methodology that allows the flow of smooth communication and collaboration of teams. With continuous innovations in technology, agile methodology beats the traditional methods of developing products and services. In Agile, the project development is split into multiple sprints, while the latter sprint involves building and improving the former for great project success allowing continuous project incorporation, quick development, and swift delivery.

Agile Project Management equips cross-functional teams to work on pieces of a project, solve and develop projects and move forward quickly with minute-on-minute updates. With this, there is a gradual flow of project improvements rather than getting stuck at the finishing stage.

What is Agile?

Agile is called a Project Management Methodology and is focused on limiting the project scope by setting a minimum number of requirements with prompt product delivery. Agile methodology provides opportunities to assess the project development by breaking down a large project into sprints known as iterations - which takes place over a specific period and at the end a valuable product is produced which gets placed to receive the feedback.

History of Agile

Like frameworks, methodology, concepts and techniques, Agile has its history of innovation.

In 1990, several methodological ideas attracted many people and became popular for their process simplification which highlighted the collaboration of functional teams to work together and deliver code.

In 2001, the term "Agile" was applied to a set of methodologies in a Manifesto for Agile Software Development created by 17 software developers. They found several alternative approaches to software development wherein each of them played a prominent role in opposing the prevailing developing process. Their ideas and reasons were summarised in the famous Agile Manifesto that included the following 12 principles.

Principles of Agile Project Management

  • Frequent and continuous project delivery with updates at multiple short intervals of time.
  • Embrace changes in a project at any point in time as Agile's process is focussed on providing opportunities for a competitive advantage.
  • Bring in cross-functional teams and developing teams to collaborate and work together during the project.
  • Involve motivated people and build a project around them by giving them the support they need and trust them for completing it at the given time.
  • A clear understanding of product requirements within the assigned teams is the best way to achieve quality project deliveries.
  • A functional and marketable product is the real measure of success.
  • The project is split into multiple sprints and each contributes sustainable development and the teams involved must maintain the constant pace indefinitely.
  • Agile is projected towards quality product design and technical excellence.
  • Maximize the efforts on the incomplete work and its scope.
  • Self-organized teams to achieve common goals and accomplishments.
  • Retrospect teams to become more productive and tune behaviour to achieve the same.

With the 17-software engineer's brilliant ideas, Agile Alliance was formed which led to the adoption of agile practices in improving the software development process with the following popular Agile methods.

Popular Agile methods

Scrum

Scrum is an agile framework that helps cross-functional teams to work together and learn through their experience by self-organizing. It also helps to reflect the wins and losses and tune their behaviour for continuous improvement. This one method of agile is popularly used by software development teams and often involves a set of tools that help the teams to work together and manage their work.

XP – Extreme Programming

It is the most specific Agile development framework as it is framed with appropriate engineering practices for software development and aims to produce a higher quality product.

DSDM – Dynamic Systems Development Method

This is an agile delivery method but was initially used in software development. DSDM is an iteration code method with which every iteration /sprint release should follow 80% of project delivery in 20% of the 100% deliverable time.

FDD – Feature-Driven Development

As the name suggests, this framework allows a software development process driven around the feature development process. In this context, it is not about the product or software features every time, they can be user stories in Scrum. For example, "Complete the login process and "Upload the required documents" are considered as a feature in FDD.

ASD – Adaptive Software Development

This is an updated version of an earlier agile framework Rapid Application Development (RAD). It aims to enable teams to effectively adapt to requirement changes of the product by continuous learning and significant planning.

Crystal

This focuses on the individuals and their interactions other than the tools and processes. Crystal is the direct outgrowth of Agile Manifesto’s core values.

LSD – Lean Software Development

This is the more strategically focussed agile framework in the software development process. Because it reduces defects and eliminates waste without increasing the cycle times during a product delivery showing an incremental business value.

Kanban

This is not considered as an Agile development method but is widely used to implement Agile and DevOps software development. It empowers real-time communication and works transparency. The work items are represented visually on the Kanban board for the team members to have a transparent view of the status of the work.

Benefits of Agile Methodology

Agile methodology is developed to enhance and streamline software developments by identifying and fixing defects and issues to deliver better projects/products at a short interval of time through iterative sprints. With companies moving to digital space with the innovations of emerging technologies, Agile is an excellent fit and a definite solution to manage the projects and transform the way teams operate. Here's the benefit of agile methodology.

Get to the market in a faster way

Agile allows getting your concept to the users more efficiently in a limited time. You have some valuable developments and iteration gives you an idea of where the product stands in terms of development, the time it takes to get delivered with which you can plan to test the hypothesis and launch accordingly. With every sprint release, you have some developments that are valuable.

Flexibility

Agile methodologies are susceptible to changes. Projects or Software need to get updated with changes. As the product comes into existence or the market expands, the need for a product or the software update arises, for which agile methodologies are the definite solution.

Risk Management

As the project gets developed through multiple iterations and is released incrementally, this allows the product managers and stakeholders to test, identify and fix defects and issues at an early stage. And the methodologies are adaptable to a change which makes it easier to alter the scope at any point in time hassle-free and deliver a quality product.

Cost-effective

Agile works are incredibly flexible for budgetary projects. When a project is designed with several features and when the feature is of no use as initially planned during development then agile allows the project to launch much sooner with less cost. Agile is based on the principle - paying only for the need. Hence the software developments can be made within the budget.

Quality

The agile methodology is linked to testing at every phase throughout the project cycle. Consistent testing leads to quality products at a minimal spent time. Incremental product releases allow frequent testing which makes it easier for the developers to analyse and fix issues and the product released is devoid of flaws.

Agile Methodology is meant to make work better with organized teams. It is meant to release better products cost-effectively and add value to the organization and developers as it is intended to make cross-functional teams work together and get the best of them in the best possible way.

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