In today’s day and age, innovation is a must to keep up with the recent trends of the market and sustain a competitive edge. If an organization does not upgrade and get with the trend, they run the risk of being replaced by a product that is a better, improved version of their own.
In fostering the kind of flexibility and persistent responsiveness to change that is required in maintaining one’s place in the market— that’s where agile comes in.
Agile is the ability to develop and respond to change It is about thinking through how you can understand what’s going on in the environment that you’re in today, identify what uncertainty you’re facing, and figure out how you can acclimate to that as you go along.
Agile is a strategy for dealing with uncertainty and change. Agile processes harness changes for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Agile is a term used to describe software development initiatives that emphasize incremental delivery, teamwork, continual learning, and continuous improvement, rather than aiming to deliver it all at once, post-completion. Agile keeps the process streamlined and focuses on creating minimum viable products (MVPs), which are put through many iterations before they are finalized. Feedback is gathered constantly, and it is a dynamic process where everyone works together towards the same goal
What Makes Agile Different
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development emphasizes valuing:
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan”
This deliberate focus on the people doing the work and how they work together is what separates Agile from other approaches to software development. The solution evolves through collaboration between a team of people from a variety of disciplines working together to solve a problem. (Here, teams figure out how they are going to approach things on their own. So, while teams do not have to have specific roles, in getting the team together, one needs to make sure that they have all the right skill sets on the team.)
Principles of Agile Software Development
1. Aiming for customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
2. Welcoming changing requirements, even at later stages of development.
3. Development velocity – the product is released frequently, where the shortest release cycle is preferred. Communication, coordination, and risk management are essential to development velocity and agility.
4. Planning is done by the project team, with a collaborative effort between business people and developers. Planning combined with design and code is used to create a product, which is working software.
5. Building projects around motivated individuals They are empowered to improve and optimize their processes, rather than to be dogmatic about their practices.
6. Project team members are reflective of their work practices and adjust their actions accordingly.
7. Paying continuous attention to technical excellence and good design to enhance agility.
8. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
9. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users need to be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
10. Simplicity— the art of maximizing the amount of work not done— is essential.
11. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
12. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
Agile Development Cycle
The agile development cycle starts with the agile process flow that involves:
· Developing concept: envisioning and prioritizing the product
· Inception: identifying the team members, funding, and discussing the initial requirements and environment
· Iteration/construction: developers develop working software following the feedback and iteration requirements
· Release: an iteration is released into production post quality testing and proper documentation
· Production: ongoing support for the software
· Retirement: end of software development along with customer notification and migration
In an agile approach, iteration occurs across activities. Therefore, the requirements and the design are developed hand in hand, rather than separately. Requirement allocation, design planning, and development are executed in a series of increments. In contrast with the conventional model, where requirements gathering needs to be completed to proceed to the design and development phase, it gives agile development an extra level of flexibility.
Frameworks under Agile
There are many frameworks within the Agile movement, like Scrum, Kanban, XP, Crystal, and many more. For instance, crystal is an agile framework focusing on individuals and their interactions, as opposed to processes and tools. It believes that teams can find ways on their own to improve and optimize their workflows. And that Every project is unique and always changing; which is why that project’s team is best suited to determine how it will tackle the work.
Scrum is a framework for addressing complex problems in an adaptive way. The framework is useful productively and creatively in delivering products of the highest possible value. It is a lightweight framework that provides guidance to people, teams, and organizations to generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems. The methodology is effective as it allows to check and resolve any difficulties as soon as they are identified. Therefore, one can take immediate corrective action to rectify errors.
The SCRUM lifecycle for agile software development includes the following steps:
1. Product backlog: Documentation based on the user’s perspectives and opinions is created by the product owner. The complex requirement is then broken down into simpler tasks.
2. Sprint backlog: Tasks are prioritized and divided into sprints, where each sprint contains a set of tasks through sprint planning. After this, the SCRUM team creates a document called, ‘sprint backlog’.
3. Execution phase: This is the cycle of several iterations, where each iteration comprises discussion, planning, decision, development, and testing activities; all following the feedback. Meetings in this phase work on eliminating any obstacles to the process.
4. Sprint review: Retrospective and introspective analysis of sprint for better planning for next sprints. After review, iteration one is carried out and evaluated for acceptance.
5. Increment: The team will demonstrate increment 1 of the development carried out. Customer feedback is then used for all the sprints in the future.
6. Final product: The SCRUM cycle continues as per the 5 steps mentioned above and the team releases the final product after completing all the sprints.
Kanban is a popular framework that is used to implement agile and DevOps software development, and it requires real-time collaboration and full transparency of work, allowing all team members to see the status of every piece of work at any time.
Kanban is an agile methodology, though it is not necessarily iterative. It helps the software to be developed in one large development cycle. Despite this, Kanban is an example of an agile methodology because whilst it is not iterative, it is incremental.
The principle behind Kanban allows for incremental and Agile development, because of its limited capacity. With no iterations, or phases, each work item has no specified start or endpoint; each can start and end independently from one another, and each does not have a pre-determined duration.
A small item from the prioritized and unserved requirements list is created. When the item is created, it begins the development process. A possible problem is that the item may not be able to move on to the next phase because there is not enough space in the next phase. By controlling the number of items being worked on, developers are able to work on the overall project incrementally and apply Agile principles.
Kanban projects have Work In Progress (WIP) limits, which are a measure of capacity that keeps the development team focused on only a small amount of work at one time. It is only as tasks are completed that new tasks are pulled into the cycle. WIP limits should be fine-tuned based on comparisons of expected versus actual effort for tasks that complete.
Kanban and scrum share some of the same concepts but have distinct approaches.
Agile Goes the Extra Mile
Agile is not just a set of values and principles, it is a mindset. that focuses on short cycles, iterative and incremental delivery, failing fast, getting feedback from customers, delivering business value to customers early, and about people, collaboration, and interaction.
Agile involves a process that is all about transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Because of its strong commitment to flexibility and change, agile has the potential power to transform projects in a way that leads to the best possible product- every single time it is applied.