The year 1957 has a special place in history. Any guesses as to what that could be? The Russians launching the Sputnik? No. Here’s a hint! Something more significant that is used by organizations today for transformation and growth. The origin of iterative and incremental software development methodologies can be traced back to 1957. Then began the evolution in 1970. That’s 50 years of software development methodology.
Isn’t that historic? As time progressed, 17 software developers met at a resort in Utah to discuss the lightweight methods for software development that were popular until then. This led to the birth of the Agile Manifesto. It’s been two decades, and Agile is used by organizations big and small to drive effective and sustainable changes.
According to the 15th State of Agile Report, the Agile adoption rate increased from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021. Here’s a stunner! 64% of the respondents cited ‘Enhancing ability to manage changing priorities’ as one of the major reasons why organizations/Teams are adopting Agile WoW.All these data points to the fact that Agile is a holy framework for driving organizational change. Before we move to the central topic, let's understand the fundamentals of Agile.
What is Agile?Agile Methodology refers to the software development methodologies revolving around iterative development where requirements and solutions begin through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. The Agile Manifesto prioritizes these four Agile principles-
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working Software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Let’s go through all the 4 frameworks
1. Scrum:Scrum is a lightweight framework for building, delivering, and sustaining products in a composite environment. It is a quick, adaptive, and responsive framework that is designed to build products faster and offer value to customers. The Scrum framework splits every project into sprints which last 1 to 4 weeks.
Every sprint concludes with a functional product or a prototype of the final deliverable. Scrum is based on lean thinking and empiricism, which has 3 pillars-
- Transparency: There should be ambiguity, and jargons are a no-no. You must use a common language and common definitions. Work must be visible to those who are performing it and who are receiving it. Scrum artifacts help you to bring transparency to life.
- Inspection: Scrum artifacts must be regularly examined and reviewed to ensure quality.
- Adaptation: On noticing below-par quality products, the team should make corrections and adjustments.
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2. Kanban:Kanban is a workflow management method for defining, managing, and enhancing services that deliver knowledge work. It helps in envisioning your work, maximizing efficiency, and upgrading continuously. Kanban is based on two types of principles-
- Change Management Principles
- Start with what you do now
- Agree to seek incremental and evolutionary change
- Promote leadership at all levels
- Service Delivery Principles
- Focus on customer’s needs and expectations
- Manage the work
- Frequently review the network of services
3. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe):The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a group of organizational and workflow patterns for applying agile practices at an organizational level. SAFe advocates alignment, collaboration, and delivery across a large number of agile teams. It was conceptualized on three pillars of knowledge, i.e., agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking.
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4. Lean Software Development (LSD)Lean Software Development (LSD) is an agile framework based on honing development time and resources, eliminating waste, and finally delivering what the customer requires. LSD is also known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy. In this strategy, the development team launches their functional product in the market. They then learn from the likes and dislikes through customer response. Then flaws are worked upon based on the feedback.
Need for AgileYou might be wondering why we need Agile when everything is running smoothly in our organization. Well, that’s a misbelief. You could always be doing something that might cost your organization an arm and a leg. If you’re unsure as to why you need Agile methodology, here are a few reasons that will change your mind-
1. Diminishes Technical Debt: Technical debt implies the cost of additional rework caused by taking an easy (limited) way of developing a solution now instead of taking a better approach which may take longer to build the same solution. In traditional software development, the technical debt soars high because new features have to be built before the project deadline, and due to that, people take an easier path by compromising quality, which in turn increases tech debt.
Agile Software development reduces technical debt to a large extent. All defects, features, and other maintenance tasks make their way to the product backlog. The backlog is reviewed during every sprint, and the most important feature is built next. New sprints are an opportunity for adding new features and correcting flaws.
2. Be Responsive and Adapt to Change: Agile teams are open to embracing changes by being forthcoming. The Agile methodology accepts that customer needs change quickly, and agile teams must acknowledge it. By working in time-boxed iterations, the teams no longer have to wait for lengthy periods for approval and change. All changes or maintenance tasks are added to the product backlog.
3. User-Centric Testing: Agile is all about providing the best value to the customer. The Product Owner closely works with the team to help understand the needs of customers through user stories. A user story is a tool used in Agile software development to capture the description of a product from the end-user perspective.
4. Realistic Delivery Dates: In traditional methodology, projects have a lengthy project cycle, making it difficult to decide a delivery date. This doesn’t happen in Agile since work happens in timeboxed sprints/iterations with no longer than a calendar month that results in a working product during the end of each sprint.
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10 Benefits of Using the Agile MethodologyThe benefits of Agile Methodology are numerous. Organizations have made a turnaround by accomplishing the organizational transformation. Here are 10 benefits of using the Agile methodology. Since this is the central topic, we suggest you pay close attention, or else you could miss out on something important.
1. Exceptional Product Quality:The product outcome at the end of the sprint is outstanding since testing is an integral part of the sprint. The client participates in the entire development cycle, and all changes are made on time. Agile is based on iterations that ensure self-organizing teams are experimenting, learning, and growing.
2. Customer Happiness:Customer feedback is critical in Agile development. They are part of the decision-making process, which leads to reduced customer churn. Traditional methodologies limit customer participation in the planning phase. Since customers are involved in the entire development cycle, the product is developed by processing their feedback which makes them happy customers. The time to market is reduced in Agile, and this is a trump card since it offers a first-mover advantage.
3. Aerial control:Managers can perform efficiently because of the extensive control over the project due to its transparency, feedback inclusion, and quality control features. Quality is maintained through the development cycle, and all the stakeholders have better visibility of the progress made as artifacts bring transparency to the entire process.
4. Decreased risks:Agile decreases the number of risks to a large extent. The sprints in Agile are small and iterative, which results in continuous delivery and enables the flow of continuous feedback from multiple sources
5. Heightened flexibility:Agile supplements development processes with flexibility. Teams work in short sprints, and customer feedback is given from time to time, with the Product Owner taking the lead. Changes prove to be expensive in other methodologies due to their rigidity. Agile provides the privilege of short sprints that are both realistic and manageable to implement changes on the go.
6. Sustained Improvement:Self-introspection for self-improvement. Does it ring a bell? Take a guess. It is one of the 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto. Agile works in iterations, and the product is built in increments. Every sprint will be better than the last, and mistakes will not be repeated. Agile endorses the free flow of ideas and exchange of learnings among team members. This increases collaboration and the bond among team members.
7. Ameliorates team morale:Agile teams are self-organized and independently managed. They are empowered to make decisions and have autonomy. The Scrum Master protects the team from outside interference so that they remain laser-focused on sprint goals and deliver high-quality products to the end user.
Since the innate nature of Agile teams is cross-functional, every team member can grow in their roles/area of specialization as agile methods promote a learning culture. The team works as a close-knit unit by discussing the challenges and the potential solutions. This is possible because Agile teams are small in size.
8. Better Cost Estimation and Scheduling:Traditional project methodologies had longer development cycles which led to costs overreaching the budget. Agile reduces costs since the sprints are short and the deliverables are given on time. This improves the project predictability. The cost estimate is given to the client before the start of the project. This improves the decision-making for the features required and the possible additions needed later.
9. Elevation in ROI:Agile follows the Early bird philosophy. Since Agile consists of sprints/iterations where product iterations are built incrementally. An early start and development process that happens as per schedule gives the benefits early. A functional prototype is ready to be launched. This reduces the time to market and decreases the cost.
By launching a functional product, you gain the first-mover advantage. Marathon delivery cycles lead to soaring project costs and are a disadvantage in competitive markets. Agile ensures quicker product releases and the advantage of assessing the early critical response to the product.
10. Priority to Business Value:Agile focuses on determining the most important features required by the client. The development team will focus on what’s important to the client and deliver the features that drive the business value.
Wrapping UpWe hope you have gone through the blog post and have realized the need and benefits of Agile methodology. The benefits of Agile outweigh the benefits of the Waterfall approach. Soaring production costs and customer churn affect your business profitability. Customer satisfaction ensures customer delight, which is a precursor for customer retention. Customer loyalty is earned, and once lost, it’s tough to gain through fancy discount offers.
It’s high time that you realize the importance of Agile because complacency and rigidity lead to the downfall of businesses. Switch to Agile before it’s too late.