Today's market requires more collaboration and movement among teams to compete successfully.
In recent years, digital transformation has gone from being a long-term business goal to a matter of survival. Digital acceleration has also shown that the promise of agility, once reserved for software teams, is something everyone needs.
Agile is a set of ideas, frameworks, and tools that help manage work more efficiently. We will understand together how it differs from waterfall methodology, what values and principles help teams deal with daily work while staying organized and productive.
Agile ideas encourage being more flexible, meeting unpredictable changes without sacrificing communication, increasing step-by-step work while learning continues.
This methodology teaches indispensable values, draws guidelines that urge the individual as well as the team, inviting flexibility and better workflows for many market verticals.
What this article is about:
Agile methodology: what is it?
The use of the term agile (or agile software development, ASD for short) was introduced by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development published in 2001 by a group of software developers (Kent Beck, Martin Fowler, Robert C. Martin, and others) seeking an alternative to waterfall , which they felt was too slow, rigid, and inefficient.
The group has devised a new approach to software project management, a short document that encapsulates new guidelines for software development and allows work for circumscribed, sprint periods, using kanban and scrum to manage goals and deadlines.
The values of agile methodology
Agile is not just following a process, it is a mindset that allows you to prioritize the most critical activities efficiently and flexibly, rewarding constant communication with stakeholders as you work.
Here are the four core values for successfully navigating deadlines and new goals:
- individuals and interactions versus processes and tools.
The best guitar is useless if there are no people who can play it. Good instruments and processes help, but focusing on individuals and their interactions will produce better results.
That's why successful teams prioritize finding the right people, making sure they communicate frequently to uncover critical information and move the work forward.
- Efficient software versus comprehensive documentation.
Before agile, teams moved within the perimeter of project requirements, with reduced flexibility, instead of looking for critical functionality to deliver as MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to customers as quickly as possible. This approach allows them to get a working product and get real-time feedback to improve future interactions.
- Collaboration with the client with respect to contract negotiation.
Collaborating with customers throughout the process, gathering feedback frequently, and adapting to new needs to quickly solve their problems is an added value.
Consider your clients as partners working closely together to design the best solution.
Before agile, teams spent a lot of time detailing a product that rarely provided added value in the end.
- Preparation for change versus plan execution.
Whereas waterfall assumes sequential development-you complete one phase before moving on to the next-, the agile model supports multiple sequences simultaneously, promoting development and testing as continuous, simultaneous processes.
Markets, teams, projects and situations are constantly changing; successful teams must remain flexible and ready to adapt to unforeseen changes.
Starting with a plan is always a good idea, but one must not be overly rigid in sticking to it!
The principles of Agile methodology
Agile methodology is not only customer centric, but gives relevance to the work of agile teams that are multifunctional, self-organizing, contribute to transparency of information, frequent sharing of feedback, and are responsible for the end-to-end process, measurement metrics, and control.
We want to remind you of the twelve principles of Agile methodology:
- Our top priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcoming changing requirements, even at late stages of development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
- Provide working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, preferring the shortest time frame.
- Businessmen and developers must work together on a daily basis throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated people. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information within a development team is vis a vis conversation.
- Working software is the main measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. Sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a steady pace indefinitely.
- Continued attention totechnical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity, theart of maximizing the amount of work not done, is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then optimizes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Kanban and scrum, two most common frameworks
There are dozens of agile frameworks, kanban and scrum being among them.
Kanban: keep track of work
Kanban is a framework that helps teams visualize work and continuously improve. You can keep track of work by checking with team members on the status of each work item at any time.
Here are some particularly appreciated benefits:
- visualize your workflows. Teams use a kanban bulletin board to make work items visible to everyone. This allows team members and stakeholders to have a broad and constant view of work progress.
- Optimizes workloads. Set the number of tasks that can be "in progress" at any given time. This helps the team reduce workloads, improve workflows, and deliver results in shorter increments.
- manage workflows. Try to create a fluid system that is as predictable as possible so that you can reduce lead times and deliver maximum value.
- continually improve. Review and monitor your system frequently, prioritizing the small improvements that have the greatest impact on results.
Let's take an example: a communication agency is launching a campaign for presenting a new product, Francesca is the graphic design. The team has several tasks: creating a social media strategy, searching for useful keywords for SEO, writing text, and designing creative. These tasks are organized on a kanban board with a workflow that starts from the backlog, then moves to selected for development, ongoing and completed depending on the stage of processing.
Francesca's job is to produce some creative based on the social media strategy; when she starts the task, she will move the ticket from backlog to in progress, then start on a new task while she waits for approval from the social media manager. Once received, she will move the first task to completed and focus on another task.
Does your team use a kanban board?
Scrum: roles, iterative and incremental delivery
Scrum is a framework that focuses on roles, iterative and incremental deliverables. These can be customized and adapted. Work is completed in short, predetermined increments. Teams are encouraged to reflect and learn from experience, always focused on continuous improvement, share responsibility, so involvement and participation are an expression of shared leadership.
Is your team ready to work in scrum?
Agile vs waterfall: what are the differences?
Choosing the right approach depends on the specific details of the project, the people involved and the desired results. The waterfall and agile approaches have their pros and cons that should not be underestimated.
Waterfall, a linear approach to project management
You have probably already used the waterfall approach in your work experience.
A linear approach to project management involves carefully defining requirements accurately. Each phase comes of the project in sequential order, at the end, an important product is completed and delivered.
- Approach: objectives and results are carefully defined from start to finish, and you complete each phase in sequential order until the project is delivered. You may address problems only after you have moved on to the next phase.
- Flexibility: low, the team sets requirements in advance.
- Team: the project manager plays an essential role during each phase.
- Testing occurs only after the previous tasks have been completed.
- Necessity: one must complete the results in order to move on to the next stage. This can become problematic if stakeholders disagree on the vision of the project and only find out at a later stage.
Agile, a continuous approach to project management
Since a software development project can take years to complete and technology can change significantly, Agile is an ongoing approach to project management, allowing you to remain flexible and respond quickly to changing needs, prioritizing the elements that create the most value for your customers. Results are completed and shared continuously, in small increments.
Twenty years later, the ways of working suggested by the Agile Manifesto continue to guide some of the highest performing teams, not just those of software developers.
This has been encouraged by remote work, which has fueled a boom in agile adoption in various teams and organizations, from law firms to marketing agencies.
Agile project management can help any team be more agile, efficient, and flexible depending on the team structure, end results, or changes along the way.
- Approach: interaction with stakeholders is frequent. It is important to involve clients in project development at every stage. Short periods of work called sprints are also useful to incorporate new information at a later stage of the project.
- Flexibility: high, adapts as the project progresses.
- Team: members are interchangeable, consequently working faster, the role of the project manager is not essential, projects are managed from within.
- Tests are performed concurrently with development.
- Necessity: the team's initiatives have short-term deadlines.
How to choose the right methodology for your project?
There are several factors to consider in choosing the right approach between Waterfall and Agile methodology.
Does your project require strict regulations or requirements? Waterfall is best suited for projects with regulations or requirements that do not require flexibility; the results of each phase and strict procedures ensure compliance.
How involved will the project stakeholders and resources of the respective teams be?
Agile methodology is best suited if stakeholders are closely involved every step of the way.