Agile is an effective approach to software development that helps create high-quality software, enhance collaboration and communication, accelerate software delivery, and increase customer satisfaction rates.
Companies worldwide use Agile in their project management and software development processes due to its benefits.
According to a report, agile is used in 80% of IT projects globally, which includes many Fortune 500 companies.
Also, agile projects have shown greater success rates than traditional project management or software development methodologies such as a waterfall. These methods take significant time, are less flexible to changes, and involve many other challenges.
Agile is a great alternative to these methods. Many agile methodologies are available today, and choosing solely depends on your project needs.
So, this guide will help you understand agile and different methodologies if you are a project manager.
What are Agile Methodologies?
Agile methodologies refer to various product development methodologies aligned with Agile principles and values. These methodologies help teams and project managers produce high-quality products and frequently deliver their functionality in smaller increments.
It enables cross-functional teams to seek faster feedback from the customers periodically to make continuous improvements and greater end-user satisfaction.
Now, if you are wondering what the term “Agile” refers to, let’s understand it so that the concept of agile methodology will come naturally to you.
What is Agile?
Agile is an efficient and flexible approach to project management developed to help create and deliver high-quality products faster for end users. The term “Agile” means the ability to move faster with ease. It helps teams become more responsive to the customer and market needs by adjusting to the situation.
It’s a mindset involving a set of principles and values for software development, as recorded in the Agile Manifesto set up in 2001. There are four core values in the Agile Manifesto:
- Individuals and interactions are valued more than tools and processes. Tools and processes are undoubtedly necessary, but project management involves human activity, and the end product is for end users. Hence, this value emphasizes communication and teamwork.
- Working software is valued more than comprehensive documentation. Although comprehensive documentation is highly resourceful for users and developers alike and must be maintained, the main goal should always be creating a valuable working software system.
- Customer collaboration should come before contract negotiation. The aim must satisfy customers’ needs and not just cover the pointers in the contract. Agile teams must frequently communicate with customers and work closely with them to understand their needs, collect feedback, and improve the software.
- Responding to the change must be practiced by following the plan. Agile teams must be quick and flexible to adjust to the changes based on the situation at any point of the software development lifecycle.
Moreover, the 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto are:
- Customer satisfaction with continuous delivery of valuable software
- Adapt to changing requirements in any stage of development.
- Frequent and faster software delivery in weeks instead of months.
- Smooth daily collaboration between the developers and business persons.
- Building projects around motivated, trustable individuals
- Enabling face-to-face conversation and considering it the best way of communication
- Considering working software as the main measure of a project’s progress
- Maintaining sustainable software development that involves constant speed
- Aiming at good design and technical excellence
- Maintaining simplicity is essential
- Best designs, architectures, and requirements come from a self-organizing team.
- Emphasis on finding ways for teams to adjust to the demands and become more effective
Agile is used in various software development planning, technical, and management processes. At present, there are over 50 agile methodologies and frameworks in practice. This means that agile is not just a single approach; it’s much more.
So, organizations and teams choose agile methodologies based on their project needs. And if you are a project manager, you must know different agile methodologies to choose the most suitable one for your project.
Here are some of the commonly used agile methodologies that you should know.
Different Agile Methodologies
Scrum is one of the most widely used agile methodologies or frameworks that Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland created. It’s used to manage complex adaptive projects and aims to produce high-quality products while maximizing the team’s creativity and productivity.
This lightweight framework helps organizations, teams, and individuals working on projects generate value by enabling adaptive solutions to highly complex problems.
Scrum involves iterations by breaking down the software development stages into cycles (usually 2-3 week cycles) or stages called “sprints.” Each sprint has a timebox for developing a defined set of features.
Here, the development time for every sprint is dedicated and maximized to enable working on one sprint at a time. It involves various project roles, including a product owner, scrum master, and team.
Scrum meetings are conducted daily to track the project’s progress and discuss activities to enhance the process. Multiple sprints are combined to make a Release where a formal product delivery is executed to the customer or end users.
Kanban was developed to address some challenges of other Agile methodologies, especially Scrum. For example, 2-3 week cycles became longer for organizations for various business aspects, and teams started to find it harder to meet the quality and scope commitments.
Kanban proposed a different, improved method that helps teams deliver continuously rather than waiting for 2-3 weeks. This also enables them to collect customer feedback faster and improve the software to achieve better satisfaction rates.
The word Kanban has a Japanese origin, and its meaning is linked with a production process, “just in time” (JIT). Kanban is a visual system to manage work where data is organized in a table or board called Kanban board, showing the workflow as per the plan and the actual work happening.
The board is divided into various columns, representing the workflow. With the development work progress, the data changes on the board, and a new “card” is created for a new task.
This method helps you identify issues in your production process and quickly fix them to improve efficiency. It’s widely used in business departments, like marketing, HR, etc.
Check out detailed difference between Kanban and Scrum.
DevOps is an approach that brings together software development (Dev) and operations (Ops). It is a set of cultural philosophies, tools, and practices to help a team deliver high-quality services and applications quickly.
DevOps aims at shortening the software development lifecycle while providing continuous product delivery. Many DevOps concepts emerge from Agile methodologies. Hence, many consider it while choosing an Agile way for their projects.
Continuous integration (CI) is a software development methodology involving developers constantly merging each code change into a single repository before running the automated builds and tests.
CI aims at finding and fixing bugs and issues faster to enhance software quality while reducing the validation time. It also enables you to release new updates in software quickly to address more issues and meet customer demands.
Continuous delivery (CD) is also a software development method where the team strives to automatically build, test, and prepare the code changes for the release. It’s a continuation of continuous integration that involves deploying the code changes to a testing or production once the build phase is complete.
As the name suggests, Scrumban combines Scrum and Kanban. This hybrid methodology was developed to meet the requirements of teams wanting to minimize work batching and use a pull-based system.
Scrumban offers the Scrum structure and the flexibility and visualization capabilities of Kanban. This way, you will get versatile and easier workflow management and can meet production needs without getting overburdened.
Lean Software Development (LSD)
Lean is one of the agile frameworks used in software development. It helps streamline and optimize the development process while minimizing waste.
LSD eliminates unnecessary steps in designing and developing a software system, which saves significant time and cost. It also encourages collaboration between your team members to optimize the workflow without confusion or conflicts. LSD involves seven principles that include some tactics, processes, and practices. These are:
- Fast delivery
- Quality build
- Eliminate waste
- Optimize the workflow
- Defer commitments
- Amplify learning
This method is suitable for projects of any size as it’s highly adaptable and scalable.
Extreme Programming (XP)
Developed in the early 1990s, Extreme Programming (XP) focuses on improving teamwork, fostering a healthy working environment, and caring for learning.
In this method, developers work in pairs wherein one developer writes the program while the other observes. They also switch roles regularly throughout a given sprint. This enables continuous feedback and reviews on the code quality and the developer’s capability.
In addition, XP fosters continuous feedback from the client to the developer teams and easy communication between the team.
This way, teams can quickly adapt to the changes when required. This agile methodology suits a project involving changing requirements and technical risks.
Design thinking is an effective approach where a product is designed and implemented based on the needs and requirements of the end user or customers. It also makes it easier for you to adapt to changing technological and industrial changes.
This process is iterative, acknowledging that there are many ways to solve a given problem instead of just one. It also promotes innovation, experimentation, and observation.
Here, the teams are open to taking suggestions and ideas and choosing the best approach that can offer the best results for the project to create a quality product and satisfy customer or user expectations.
Crystal is a highly flexible agile methodology, offering the team the freedom to develop processes independently. It primarily focuses on individuals and their interactions rather than solely on tools and processes. This is why communication is one of its main attributes.
Crystal is of different types:
- Crystal Clear for up to 8 persons in a team
- Crystal Yellow for 10-20 persons
- Crystal Orange for 20-50 persons
- Crystal Red for 50-1000 persons
This agile methodology aims at delivering products of the highest quality by focusing on interaction, teamwork, and symbiosis that bring greater efficiency. The teams find the best way to approach a project based on the challenges and unique requirements.
Disciplined Agile (DA)
Disciplined Agile (DA) is an agile methodology that helps teams streamline organizational controls, improve business agility, and gain better financial success.
DA enables you to find the best way to adapt to the project requirements and your team’s working style so that processes can complete faster without confusion.
Here, the team uses simpler, lightweight processes to achieve their goals faster. It’s similar to Crystal and can opt for a hybrid approach combining the concepts of Scrum, Kanban, and XP.
Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
The Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM) suits projects with tighter schedules and budgets. It frequently focuses on delivering a product in cycles, involving an incremental and iterative development approach.
DSDM enables you to design a roadmap involving continuous, early delivery of the products. It also prioritizes collecting customer feedback throughout the development process and validating if the requirements are delivered as per the expectations.
Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Feature Driven Development (FDD) is an incremental, customer-centric, and iterative agile methodology. It aims at producing working software consistently and frequently. It involves stages:
- Developing the project model
- Creating the list of features to be added to the product
- Planning by feature
- Designing the product by feature
- Building the product by feature
As the name suggests, this method is driven by valuable features that make a product unique in the market and useful for the end users. The above steps help teams move steadily and achieve their goals without hassles. It’s suitable for larger teams.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD)
Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is an agile methodology that is behavior-oriented. Its concepts promote collaboration between team members with or without much technical knowledge of software development.
It involves writing test cases and features containing the project requirements and acceptance norms on how the system must behave.
This way, you can understand the functionality needs better and get started with the project easily, and anticipate the next steps and results. BDD helps teams accurately communicate their needs, spot issues early, and create a robust software system.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) involves a set of organizational workflow and patterns to implement agile at the enterprise level. It’s a lightweight framework that enables centralized decision-making capability to help increase development efficiency.
This agile methodology brings the power of DevOps and Lean to enable organizations to create innovative products faster with greater quality.
Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)
LeSS is an agile framework that enables scaling Scrum to different teams working on a product. It aims at eliminating waste and reducing the complexity of the development process.
This method applies the ideas and principles of Scrum in a large-scale business context through defined guides and rules. It’s also known for its simplicity but is effective for helping teams achieve a better quality product and satisfy customer needs.
Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
ASD uses the concept of continuous adaptation to changes instead of fighting against them. In ASD, teams use Speculate, Learn and Collaborate, a dynamic software development cycle dedicated to greater collaboration between customers and teams and constant learning.
ASD follows a nonlinear iterative software development lifecycle wherein each cycle iterates and can be changed while the other cycle executes. It also focuses on producing high-quality products at speed, with lower maintenance costs.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management is an effective and iterative agile approach. It aims at managing development projects with continuous releases. In addition, the teams using this method collect and uses customer feedback in every iteration.
Agile project management offers many benefits to teams, such as accelerating development speed, adapting to market trends, and improved collaboration.
Other agile methodologies include:
- PRINCE2 Agile
- Evidence-Based Portfolio Management (E-B PfM)
- Management of Portfolios (MoP)
- PMI-Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP)
- Project Half Double
- Scrum at Scale
And many more.
Agile offers plenty of benefits to teams in terms of productivity, product quality, and customer satisfaction, to name a few. And there are many agile methodologies you can choose from based on the needs of your project. Thus, go through each to decide what suits your project the most.
Next, check out online courses for project management.