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 A Beginners Guide to Agile Methodologies

A Beginners Guide to Agile Methodologies

Agile is here to stay—it’s gaining popularity in the modern workplace and gives us a modern way to tackle complex problems. Agile thrives in places where the team is all-in for changing plans if the outcome is more productive. But before we get into that, it’s important to understand what Agile itself is.

What is Agile?

Agile is defined as the ability to respond to change and create it; it helps us deal with and succeed in uncertain environments. The idea sprung up in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto, where a few software developers came together to develop a new way to develop software.

Some points of the manifesto are as follows:

  • Individuals and interactions are more important than processes and tools
  • There should be a working software over a comprehensive documentation
  • There should be more customer involvement than contract negotiation
  • ability to respond to change over following a laid down plan

What Are Agile Methodologies?

Agile methodologies are frameworks that many teams and organizations use that follow the Agile mindset. Agile is the what, and Agile methodologies define the how. Going with Agile methodology aims to increase a business’ ability to evolve and produce faster better projects and products.

Here are some of the most popular Agile methodologies that are used:

a person writing on a whiteboard

Scrum

Scrum is the most popular and widely used Agile methodology. It’s a project management framework for easily executing a complex project. Although it’s complicated for those unfamiliar with it, its basics revolve around recurring cycles or “sprints” that focus on completing a particular amount of work.

A sprint lasts for about 2–4 weeks, where at the beginning of the sprint, the Scrum Master decides which task will move from the main project to-do list to a sprint to-do list. The development team then works to complete the sprint to-do in the time allocated.

The entire Scrum team meets every day for daily Scrums to ensure everyone knows where they are and are on the same page. This process is repeated until the project is complete or the stakeholders are satisfied.

a room with three coding monitors

 

Kanban

Kanban is a simplified agile process that is often used with other agile methods, such as the Scrum approach. It is designed to manage tasks and optimize efficiency by visualizing the progress and the to-do works. Kanban is followed by organizing tasks on Kanban boards to move smoothly whether changes are adjusted along the way.

The Simplest Kanban board consists of three columns: To-Do, Doing, and Done. This allows the ongoing work to flow from one stage to the next. Trello, an online tool, is an example of this.

Kanban boards are ideally placed in an area that’s visible to all in the office. This helps everyone know what is going on, and if they’re wondering what the most important task of the day is, they just have to check the office Kanban board.

Kanban relies on six principles:

  1. Visualizing the workflow
  2. Limiting work in progress
  3. Managing the flow
  4. Making policies explicit
  5. Implementing feedback loops
  6. Improving via collaboration

Lean

Originally created by Toyota, Lean is a mindset that helps developers and teams work more efficiently, productively, and effectively. It can be applied to many software development and agile methodologies. Lean is all about moving through efficiency by eliminating redundancies and waste, especially tasks that don’t add any value to the project.

The five principles of Lean management are:

  1. Identifying value
  2. Value stream mapping
  3. Creating a continuous workflow
  4. Creating a pull system
  5. Continuously improving

Extreme Programming

Extreme Programming, or XP, is an agile method that revolves around improving the developing software’s quality and responsiveness to the ever-changing customer requirements. The goal is to produce high-quality results throughout the project, and not just in the final stage.

XP is following five integral values:

  1. Communication
  2. Simplicity
  3. Feedback
  4. Courage
  5. Respect

Roadmaps

Agile is all about short cycles, but it doesn’t mean we should dismiss long-term planning completely. With roadmaps, the development team gets a vision of the products needed. Roadmaps show everyday work and show how the product will evolve.

Product Backlog

This, similar to Kanban, is a list of tasks that the software team gets from the roadmap. These tasks are necessary for the completion of the task at hand. The most important tasks are always placed at the top of the backlog; this makes it easier for the team to see the deliverables needed first. This list of information is the most important source for the team members following the agile approach and is managed by the Scrum Master.

The Product Backlog can also consist of the bug fixes and other requirements that need to be done before the software or product is deployed.

Crystal

The Crystal method focuses on the interactions between people in a project over tools and techniques. It emphasizes people, communication, community, skills, and talents. It’s based on:

  1. Team size
  2. System criticality
  3. Project priorities

 

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