HomeTECHNOLOGYAgile Method: The Guide To Getting Started

Agile Method: The Guide To Getting Started

Marketing, sales, management, project management: every discipline has its fundamentals. It is only possible to build a project with a solidly established process. This rule applies to development. The success of the agile method is not a matter of magic or mystery. It is the natural consequence of the application of these fundamentals.

Working according to agile principles implies knowing how to deal with the changes and the stumbling blocks their implementation will inevitably generate. Indeed, this project management system is very different from cascading management and, a fortiori, from the absence of leadership. Find in this guide the concept and the pillars of the agile method. In the daily urgency of project management, the basic principles are quickly forgotten.

What Is Agile Project Management?

The coordinated technique centers around quickly growing new programming and functionalities by an adaptable and influential group. As opposed to sending aggressive updates, the gathering embraces short advancement cycles. It emphasizes tackling issues bit by bit, on account of various criticisms, in light of a legitimate concern for ceaseless and supported improvement.

HubSpot’s Promoting Organizations Development Report uncovers that numerous offices need more undertaking the executive’s abilities. Hardships in overseeing time and assets are day-to-day impediments to their development. Around 20% of organizations studied have never taken on project board programming. Accordingly, 43% need the additional opportunity to manage fundamental inward errands like enlistment, prospecting, or client service.

A coordinated methodology is necessary to advance deals and promotion for 55% of organizations, and 24% battle to separate themselves in their market. At last, for 18% of organizations, the requirement for additional cycles and association is a wellspring of loss of clients. In this manner, numerous offices today are keen on the board’s lithe venture.

The Beat of calling 2021 report, distributed by the Establishment of Venture The board and explicitly situated on the reactions of 716 task executives experts at the European level, demonstrates that just 48% of the associations addressed utilize coordinated strategies in the board of their administration.

In any case, in the respondents’ perspective, all guiding techniques joined, just those regarding a conventional methodology, make it conceivable to accomplish the expected outcomes concerning goals, cutoff times, and spending plan. Numerous members say they know the need to comprehend how to oversee changes during the venture, and 19% see the light-footed approach as a primary achievement factor. 

What’s more, 8% say they “consistently” favor it, while 65% pick it “here and there” or “frequently.” They are 71% vouched for its expanded use starting around 2013. At long last, the fifteenth yearly review on the condition of agility, led by Collabnet VersionOne, which centers around organizations with more than 1,000 representatives, reports the monetary interest in ability: 64% of respondents demonstrate that they go to this method of the board to work on the course of the advancement of needs and 49% accept that it permits them to develop consumer loyalty further.

The Origins Of The Agile Method

The history of working methods related to software creation begins long before the writing of the Agile Manifesto. The predominant model in the 80s and 90s is the waterfall method. It is inherited from civil and mechanical engineering. The principle is then to complete one step before starting the next. Its basic design allowed some flexibility and the possibility of returning to an earlier stage for adjustment. 

Still, the requirements of schedules and budgets did not allow these arrangements. This method relies more on planning and documentation than on rendering functional software. The problem with software development projects is that they are much less stable than civil engineering projects. Many therefore believe that this type of program requires a differentiated approach. 

Moreover, the slow realization of software developments caused a crisis in the data-processing field in the Nineties. They will thus see developing multiple alternatives to the methodology in cascade. The US Department of Defense, in particular, will build its programming language. Then, many other approaches will be based on iterations and agile. For example, the spiral, Scrum, or XP methodologies will be deployed.

It was also in the 1990s that Jon Kern, frustrated by the slowness and rigidity of the waterfall methodology, sought a faster and more flexible approach to building software. Seventeen opinion leaders in the field then meet informally to discuss and find a solution. They want to develop software more simply without overloading processes and documentation. 

This meeting of Snowbird at the beginning of 2001 is at the origin of the drafting of the Agile Manifesto. This is the most straightforward and concise statement of approaches based on iterations, the antithesis of the waterfall methodology. The clarity and precision of this text make it the profession of faith for any subsequent development of agile software.

The Four Fundamental Values ​​Of The Agile Method

Statistical studies partly attest to the advantages offered by this approach. But what about in practice? To begin with, it is essential to understand the four core values ​​on which its effectiveness is based and described in the Agile Manifesto. Seventeen developers compiled this document during a stay in the United States. 

Their collective reflection aimed to identify and lay down the fundamentals of the agile methodology, aimed at optimizing software development, and to disseminate these best practices as widely as possible.

The agile method prefers:

  1. People and their interactions with processes and tools.
  2. Operational solutions with exhaustive documentation.
  3. Collaboration with the client in contract negotiations.
  4. Responding to change rather than following the plan.

Therefore, the keywords of this methodological framework are direct communication, concrete and empirical problem solving, co-construction with the client, and adaptability. It is only at the cost of respecting these values ​​that it is possible to establish the sound and efficient foundations of agile project management.

The Project Division

Another critical aspect is the division of the project. Agile management draws its flexibility and resilience from splitting the work to be done into multiple tasks. To start correctly with the agile method, it is, therefore, necessary to learn how to segment.

The project is divided into sub-projects and sub-objectives. These are linked together as the previous ones come to an end. The team analyzes the completed phase between two sub-projects to adapt the rest of the “route.” This is called: operating by iteration.

Definition Of An Iteration

In project management, an iteration is a phase of development and concrete progress of the project, which returns to a regular and previously defined rhythm. In addition to the four values, this methodology is based on 12 fundamental principles, also set out in the Agile Manifesto.

The Different Agile Methods

Methods based on iterations and agile began to develop before 2001. However, the Agile Manifesto defines this methodology’s fundamental values ​​and principles. There are, therefore, different frameworks in which the variants presented here have developed. The most popular variation of the agile method, Scrum (“scrum” in rugby), was theorized before the manifesto but applied its principles. It has grown in IT and business environments. 

Scrum is based on short iterations (1-month maximum), called sprints, reduced formalism, close customer involvement, and dynamic project management. Planning, effort estimation, and scope changes are done at the start of each sprint. Project development involves continuously delivering actionable protocols to validate the various stages as the sprints unfold.

eXtreme Programming or XP is a method that aspires to reduce the expense of project changes. To do this, it is based on simplicity, flexibility, and continuous customer satisfaction. To continuously improve the product, systematic tests are carried out to generate criticisms which, by their immediate consideration, lead to changes and adjustments. The project design is thus done continuously based on changes in customer requirements. This methodology is adaptable to companies and projects of different sizes.

The Kanban method was inspired by an approach first conceptualized in the Japanese automotive industry during the 1950s. It was developed to improve team workflows and adapt their workload during project production. Technically, it involves representing the tasks in the rows of a Kanban board, where each column indicates the progress of the execution of work. It is used to visualize the workflows, their priorities, and their accomplishments.

The Rational Unified Process (RUP) method is a hybrid method that mixes traditional and agile approaches. Given its high cost and potential heaviness, it should mainly be assigned to large-scale projects. This methodology is based on iterations designed in cycles broken down into 4 phases: launch, design, production, and delivery. During each stage, all stakeholders are engaged in discussions at different levels.

The idea is to address the multiple actors of the project as early as possible. The deployment of the project is based on practical cases, and the functionalities are defined from the most generic to the most specific. All the methods presented here can be combined to achieve an organization as close as possible to the principles of the methodology defined in the manifesto.

The 12 Principles Of The Agile Method

  1. Satisfy the customer by regularly delivering new features.
  2. Positively welcome changing needs.
  3. Deliver working software with a preference for short development cycles.
  4. Encourage ongoing collaboration between developers and users.
  5. Carry out projects with motivated people.
  6. Encourage face-to-face dialogue to communicate effectively.
  7. Measure progress based on software operational quality.
  8. Adopt a sustainable pace of development over time.
  9. Pay continuous attention to technical excellence and design quality to enhance agility.
  10. Prioritize simplicity.
  11. Trust in self-organization to see the best architectures, specs, and designs emerge.
  12. Analyze and adapt.

Principle #1: Satisfy The Customer By Regularly Delivering New Functionalities

Software is not an end, but an instrument developed in response to the end user’s needs: performing new tasks, solving a problem, or gaining efficiency. However, this priority often needs to be made aware of. The needs of the end customer must guide the entire development process. The best way to do this is to collect customer reviews as often as possible and respond to them with minor, frequent updates. The risks of drift and dissatisfaction will be minimized if the customer is involved.

Principle #2: Welcome Changes In Needs positively

Agile processes put change at the service of the customer’s competitive advantage. This is why they recommend lightening the planning and definition of the need upstream: this will evolve throughout the project. You have to be able to absorb the unexpected. Changes can be made immediately without redesigning the design or the system. Even late in the development process, the time between designing and implementing a change should be as short as possible.

Principle #3: Deliver Working Software With A Preference For Short Development Cycles

Past improvement strategies expected significant documentation to answer deduced to every one of the necessities communicated. Regularly, the volume of documentation was contrarily relative to the nature of the deliverable. Yet again deft task the board limits the time between arranging and conveyance to acquire proficiency.

 The target of every cycle is to give a functional and further developed rendition of the task. The length of the improvement stages should be changed depending upon the capacity of the designers to satisfy this goal, yet in addition to the client or client to approve the proposed increases in time.

Principle #4: Encourage Ongoing Collaboration Between Developers And Users

This principle is all the more crucial because it is rarely put into practice. The best way to apply it is to share the same workspace. In the case of teleworking, there are many tools to communicate efficiently. The more the different teams communicate with each other through clear exchanges, the more they maximize mutual understanding and productivity.

Principle #5: Carry Out Projects With Motivated People

Agile project management leaves no room for micro-management. Teams should be self-directed and autonomous. Thus, it is essential to call on trusted professionals likely to achieve the project’s objectives while guaranteeing an optimal working environment.

Principle #6: Encourage Face-To-Face Dialogue To Communicate And Effectively

It’s about answering questions as quickly as possible. Grouped team members, or who respect the same hours in the event of teleworking, achieve this more easily. Working together, physically or virtually, makes it possible to ask questions, make suggestions and communicate directly and instantly.

Principle #7: Measure Progress Based On Operational Software Quality

To assess the performance of an agile development team, the first thing is whether the software is working correctly. The objective is always to have working software, and the other indicators must be subordinated to this priority.

Principle #8: Adopt A Development Rate That Is Sustainable Over Time

Due to the very long duration of some projects, burnout is a serious risk within agile teams. To avoid this, operation by short periods of intense productivity must be favored. Indeed, in the long term, repeated overtime jeopardizes the project’s quality and the employees’ health. The pace of development is appropriate when it gives team members a sense of a job well done.

Principle #9: Pay Continuous Attention To Technical Excellence And Design Quality To Enhance Agility

Agile excludes the integral design of functionalities at the beginning of the project. That doesn’t mean any strategy at all. The method recommends asking questions as you go along, before each coding step, to guarantee the overall consistency of the development.

In addition, code cleaning must be diligent. Each iteration is an opportunity to improve and refine it. With the agile methodology, investing in relevant scrum tools is recommended. Optimizing code quality during development helps to increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

Principle #10: Prioritize Simplicity

Here again, it is a question of passing as quickly as possible from the analysis of the problem to the solution. Project splitting and a step-by-step view simplify the work process. In addition, procrastination and dispersion are prohibited. Project management tools like Mashable, Trello, and InVision make it easy and fun for teams to track their work time to bypass these obstacles.

Principle #11: Trust Self-Organization To See The Best Architectures, Specifications, And Designs Emerge

An agile development team is self-directed and autonomous. Each team member is thus able to solve problems, overcome obstacles and invent solutions. In this context, any form of micro-management must be alert because it signals a dysfunction.

Principle #12: Analyze And Adapt

This ultimate principle is fundamental. At regular intervals, an agile team should think about ways to become more efficient and then change their behavior accordingly. If opportunities for improvement arise, they should be seized. Hence the importance of retrospectives at the end of the iteration. Adaptation is the essence of an agile method and is the main difference between agile and V-cycle.

Back to Basics

During a deft venture, getting diverted by the desperation of a continuously changing environment is simple. Even so, better dominating or recollecting the basics prompts the task’s float. To take advantage of the handy technique’s maximum capacity, it is fundamental to return to its qualities and first standards continually.

Read Also: Portfolio Management: Principle And Types

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