An empowering approach for cross-functional and self-organized teams
Agile methodology is the consequence of huge time lag within customer requirements and delivered technology. The Waterfall Model did not answer the changing business requirements in the lag time, so the final product was not consistent with the customer requisites. The Model lacked the viability of software alteration and missed out the demand for speed. A group of “thought leaders” consisting of seventeen members came up with agile methodology, its values, and principles.
In short, Agile is an approach for developing software that facilitates the cross-function teams to deliver project in iterations while integrating user feedback through-out the product life cycle. Success of Agile is apparent as it aligns business needs with the software development. Agile encourages customer participation and guidance, since it is customer focused. Agile is overarching the software industry all on its own.
On the contrary to other methodologies, Agile approach works with iterations in the planning and development processes. The customer and project team coordinate during these phases to prioritize the requirements. The working software is a product delivered to customers quickly within a production-like environment so the customers are able to test and review their software product and report for any changes. As they are able to assess the direction and scope of the product due to regular iterations and deliveries, giving a great opportunities to companies in building the right product. The iterations continue until the end of project with many releases as the changes are made repeatedly, which helps them adding improvements and becoming more competitive. Agile manifesto is based on some values and principles to give a more improved way of managing the software development process.
Let’s have a look at each of these values and principles.
Core Values of Agile Methodology
Mainly there are four core values of the Agile methodology that are involved in the process of software development and delivering high-quality product.
Value People and Communication over Tools and Processes
Agile manifesto advocates the importance of people since individuals are the core assets of the business. People drive the development process, business requirements, and the final product. Since, the tools and processes driving the project means more time in managing the change; thus, less likely to deliver the needs of customers. Valuing people means processes and tools can be altered just in time as the new needs arrive. Valuing communication means information remains well-integrated among the members of the team and there is very minor chance of loose ends. Communication is also present when valuing the process and tools more than people. However, it is based on specific content and does not aid the current needs of technological innovation and change. Agile team changes the process or tool in contrast to other way round.
Value Software more than Documentation
Before Agile, a development team may invest enormous amount of time on technical requirements, technical specification, planning documentation, test planning, design interface document, and technical prospectus. The most of useful time was wasted in documentation and caused delays in project as each of these documents require approval. In Agile manifesto documentation is an important part; however it is integrated as a need arises. In such a way it streamlines with the people and communication. The requirements document is formed as user stories which helps the developers to create a new feature with sufficient information about what the software does. In this aspect, Agile methodology highly value working software over documentation and documentation does not appear as the mainstream process, but only guides the software development.
Coordination with the Customer over Contract Negotiation
Negotiation takes place in the beginning and end of the project in the Waterfall model. It involves working out on the details of software project between manager and customer, while coordination is entirely different. Agile manifesto values coordination which is intact during the process of development, whereas the Waterfall model negotiates prior to starting project. In Agile method, customer is not just the end-user but can act as a part of the daily meetings, in periodic demos, and ensure that the product is going in the right direction. The customer is valued and engaged in making of the software through collaboration within the team. So, it is more ease for the team to remain in line with the customer needs.
Value Change over Plan Flow
In conventional models, change was avoided as it was considered expensive. There were long detailed plans to elaborate all features with priorities and dependencies on delivering the product so that the next piece of work is aligned with the earlier. On the contrary, Agile focuses on short iterations over detailed plans, as it help adding new features in each iteration which gives additional value to the product. Agile promotes change as it enhances the overall value of the final product. Agile’s approach to change can be referred as method tailoring, which involves responsive changes among various method fragments, intentions, and contexts.
Core Principles of Agile Methodology
Agile promotes continuous iteration through-out the life cycle of software development, making the development and test concurrent. There are mainly twelve principles of agile methodology:
Customer satisfaction is closely related to the work that is regularly delivered in short intervals rather than in extended periods. The continuous delivery of work ensures that the customer can give their input on anything that needs to change as well as additional requirements. Agile achieves customer satisfaction at first place by shortening the delivery time, eliminating the documentation process, and focusing more on what the customer wants rather than what the developer plans.
Incorporate Change Requirements
Agile involves accommodating changes throughout the process of development as the need arises. This enables the project team to avoid the delays if any feature or requirement requests a change. Agile welcomes change in requirements even if the customer shares requirements late in the project. In this way, Agile harness the competitive advantage of the businesses. It incorporates the change in the new iteration and doesn’t require a new project to implement changes. Thus, saves you from reinventing the wheel again and again.
Frequent and Continuous Software Delivery
Since, Agile works in iterations its team is capable of delivering the working software in regular intervals. One of the powerful secrets that enable the Agile to work on etched-in-stone schedule is that it creates a short range of tasks. This method cut down the unnecessary and heavy documentation found in the traditional approaches to embrace the changes, while planning the development tasks.
Customer and Developing Team Collaboration
Agile encourages communication and collaboration between the parties; business stakeholder/ customers and developers. According to this approach the alignment of technical team and customer results in better decision-making. When customer and developing teams works together on daily basis, it is easier to build bridge between to understand both side’s view. So, that in the end both parties may not be talking in their own languages and unable to understand the other. To keep your customers on-board you can use the same tools as you use with your remote team members.
Motivation, Support and Trust
When all the members involved in project are motivated they are likely to perform at their best as compared to their less motivated counterparts, while support and trust are the essential needs of the teams to be more open-up and enjoy working. The agile manager ensures that the environment sufficiently supports and develops trust among individuals. Thus, avoid anything that erodes morale of the members.
Agile promotes face to face interaction as it is more effective communication when team members are co-located. Emails, documenting conversations, and collaborative software like slack are useful; however, when you want to see the lasting impact or move swiftly through the task then you cannot sit to wait for a reply. For immediate two-way communication you need to interact with your team members in person. For remote teams, video conferencing is great solution to encourage collaborative environment.
In agile methodology progress is measured for the working software in short intervals, which ultimately outcomes the better end product. This helps the team to keep a check on the project if it is working properly or not. Here you can see if the project works as it was expected to, at this stage. It means you are not going through the scheduled timeline or tasks, but checking the success of the project. It keeps you stay focused on the important aspects that ultimately leads to the project goal accomplishment.
Consistent Pace of Development
Agile processes are based on maintainable speed for the delivery of the working software. This supports the regular intervals after each release and constant pace indefinitely. Thus, developers, customers, sponsors, and users are on the same page. On one hand, the overextended deliverables affect the quality of your project. On the other hand, short sprints not only promote change integration but also keep the team motivated, so also avoid burn-outs.
Design Agility and Technical Details
The agile teams ensure that they focus on the sustainable change, constantly improve product, and maintain the pace with best design solutions, while paying attention to technical details. It enhances agility of the product when the teams focus onto delivering excellence. In Agile method, the projects keep on evolving as it does not support the idea of fixing the things later, but making sure that after a single iteration there is a measurable improvement in the product.
By keeping things simple, agile promotes that the work done at a time is enough to finish the current job. It means cutting down on all the processes and task that are complicating the project as well as achieving the maximum from the minimum resources. This helps you moving quickly through the product development and streamlining the processes. Some project management tools are effective in keeping the things simple. This also gives you more control over the project.
By self-organized agile refers to the ability of each member of the team to take ownership of their work, make decisions, communicate and share ideas. Members should be motivated to be self-organized. The strong team means a group of individuals you can rely on. Only strong teams can act independently if you give them enough trust and support.
Agile promotes regular reflection on the people, techniques and processes to improve. It encourages the advancing skills and process improvements to help the development team to work more efficiently and achieve better results. Teams should reflect on their capabilities at regular intervals to adjust themselves with the need of time. Such a team will not blindly follow anything but stop, reflect, and tweak. This type of team is constantly engaged in improving productivity of their own and the organization.
Agile is a methodology with looser structure to help you manage the project with collaboration and change. It is not just a set of practices or rules to develop a software product, but its values and principles enable communication, adaptability, and flexibility. Even in developing complex projects its incremental techniques allow the team to work efficiently, fostering great results. Agile into action supports the developing team right from the design to project deliveries. An integral part of Agile method is improving the process with integration of the customers and developers in planning and implementation. Proper understanding of the approach can lead to enhance the customer value by actively involving them as well as delivering more generous results at the end of the project.
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