If you have been around the software business block for a while, odds are you have heard about agile management at least a few times. Still, the true meaning of agile and its benefits for teams might come across as vague or confusing to many newbie sharks in the business waters. If you are unsure whether and why your business could make use of agile methodology, here are a few basics which you should bear in mind that may help you properly implement agile and use it in your teams to best effects.
The Agile Mindset: Beyond the Comfort Zone
The agile mindset is best described as a thought process which includes understanding, collaboration, growth from knowledge, and flexibility, all with the aim of achieving superior results. Combined with processes and tools, the agile mindset allows teams to adapt to changes on the fly and provide increment-based value to clients with minimal risk of failure or lack of coordination. By embracing the agile mindset, companies can deliver a structure which is necessary for individual teams and team members to perform at their best and be as effective as possible while at the same time staying flexible and adaptable to constantly changing market demands. The agile mindset is a perfect attitude that a team can have in turbulent and challenging environments as it provides a model which encourages them to embrace change instead of avoiding it. A perfect example is agile project management.
Agile Methodologies: Top of the Agile Crop
The list of agile methodologies is quite lengthy, but the most popular ones include Scrum and eXtreme Programming (XP). Other methods include Kanban and Crystal, as well as Lean Software Development (LSD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Feature Driven Development (FDD), and Adaptive Software Development (ASD), but these are generally less used in companies compared to the first four. When deciding on the agile method to introduce in your company, it is recommendable to consult agility consulting experts and have them recommend the best option for your situation.
Scrum: Building Products from the Ground Up
A hands-on agile system which consists of interlocking elements, Scrum is by far the most popular agile methodology today. It begins with product owners creating a prioritized wish list (product backlog), after which scrum teams start working on one small segment of the backlog (sprint backlog) for approximately 2-4 weeks. The progress is then monitored at daily scrums, with the Scrum Master keeping the team fixed on the goal. The process continues until the sprint is in the final stage and ready for shipping or presentation, after which the team closes the sprint with a revision and begins work with another sprint. This cycle repeats until the entire product (software) is done.
eXtreme Programming: Top Customer Satisfaction
Frequently combined with Scrum, XP aims to increase customer satisfaction and it focuses on giving customers what they immediately need rather than concentrating on the end product. The main focus is on frequent releases and short development cycles. XP relies on code reviews, pair programming, and unit testing combined with continuous communication with the client. By doing this, the team strives to meet the customer’s immediate needs and builds products on a step-by-step basis, constantly adjusting to the changes in demand. The cycle is repeated until the final product delivery.
Kanban: Keeping Strict Tabs on Project Progress
Somewhat similar to XP, the Kanban method uses the Kanban board which is divided into columns to demonstrate the flow of product production. The information in the columns changes as product development progresses and new cards are created with every new task. The main advantage of Kanban is its transparency since team members can monitor the progress of product development and check the project status at any given moment. Here, the focus is on the duration of the cycle and continuous deliveries, which makes Kanban a suitable additional agile management system for small teams.
Crystal: Different Variants with the Essential Core
Another member of the Agile management methods, Crystal is available in variations customized for a particular team size, such as Crystal Clear (up to 8 team members), Crystal Yellow (10-20 members), Crystal Orange (20-50 members), and Crystal Red (500-1000 members). Focusing on principles such as People, Interaction, Skills, Community, Communication, and Talent, Crystal relies on interaction and symbiosis between people and processes to deliver optimal product development processes. The advantages of Crystal for individual teams include space to improve characteristics and focus on closer collaboration and knowledge exchange among team members.
Agile methodologies aim to make the development process easier and allow teams to adapt the product to the change in demand on the go. This is why your company will benefit greatly from introducing such a system in daily workflow. After all, the development process and all its segments need to be closely monitored and modified if you are to produce value to clients, so if you are not using agile methodologies yet, now is the perfect moment to make the change for the better for all parties in the game.