- What’s Agile in Software Development?
- Top Agile Methodologies
- 7 Agile Software Development Lifecycle Phases
- Top 5 Agile Techniques
- Reasons for adopting Agile Methodology
- What’s Agile in Design?
- UX Design
- Agile UX vs Lean UX - Is there a difference between them?
- Lean UX
- Design Thinking
- How Agile works for Us?
- Wrapping Up
Today, the most common methodology used by teams in software development and project management is the agile methodology. The concept of being “agile” has been implemented in working environments for quite a while now and, finally, established itself as the collection of the best software development methodologies to adhere to. 84% of the teams using agile mentioned that they were still not fully competent with their agile practices. According to InformationWeek (UK), the agile set of beliefs and principles still hasn’t reached its final destination and has to mature with and within organizations and accumulate valuable experience. The chief scientist of the Agile discipline at the Project Management Institute, Scott Ambler thinks that
Agile isn’t just a trend; it’s here to stay, especially as we better learn how to effectively yield its benefits.
So, what is the agile software development methodology everyone is talking about? And what are the principles of agile development that are here to stay? Let’s find out!
What’s Agile in Software Development?
According to Atlassian Agile Coach, Agile is an approach to software development and project management that is based on iterations and fast value delivery to the clients. This means that the team works iteratively giving continuous results, which are evaluated on the spot. The process resembles a mechanism, where each piece works in tandem with the other to carry out one common goal and flexibly adapt/respond to the changes.
Top Agile Methodologies
Currently, several best methodologies and frameworks fall under the name of “agile”. These are:
- Scrum, an easy framework that aims at generating value by resolving complex problems with adaptive solutions. There are 58% of individuals, teams, and organizations that focus on Scrum. If you’d like to get more information on how Scrum works, see the available Scrum Guide.
- Kanban is one of the most popular methodology frameworks that implement agile and DevOps software development. It focuses on real-time communication, work scope, and its full transparency. So, the items a team works with are represented on a Kanban board, giving the team an idea of where their work is at any particular moment.
- ScrumBan is a hybrid methodology based on Scrum and Kanban that was created as a transitional point from the first methodology to the second one. Here, teamwork is carried out with the help of small iterations. These iterations are being monitored on a visual board with notes, like the one in Scrum or the Kanban board.
- Extreme Programming (XP) is an agile methodology dependent on fast communication, quick feedbacks, and software development simplicity. Thus, the main focus here is the process of development.
- ScrumXP is a methodology hybrid that delivers value within the scaled agile framework for teams of cross-functional, and self-organized character. It combines Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) practices to produce higher quality software and promote a higher quality of project lifecycle phases.
- Iterative development is a development methodology that works by breaking down large app development into smaller chunks, i.e. iterations. So, the feature code is being designed, developed, and tested in cycles that are repeated. Iterations occur adding new features until there is a fully functional ready-to-market software application.
- Lean Software Development is also one of the agile methodology frameworks revolving around time and resources optimization for development, waste elimination, and delivery of the needed product.
Most companies adopt methodologies according to their preferences and possibilities. Some even try to stick to two and more in different project teams. The choice depends on the team preparedness and the ability of employees to quickly adjust to the methodology and give positive results. According to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report, 95% of organizations have implemented and practice agile development methods. Here, 27% of organizations use agile methodologies for more than 5 years, 34% from 3 to 5 years, 23% for 1-2 years, and the last 10% for less than a year.
7 Agile Software Development Lifecycle Phases
As you might know, the process of software development is extensive and consists of mini-development sprints that are self-integral agile development steps. There’s how the steps of the agile development cycle diagram look like:
Each of these steps is important, includes its own requirements, challenges and assessments. However, the biggest impact on the agile software development lifecycle is done by the first two steps, where requirements are being discussed, described, and finalized by the customer. Accurate and well-defined requirements are always easier to meet in comparison to the ones that are vague and need additional answers from the customer. And, as we know, additional information requires extra time and resources and might even trigger an increase in the project development budget.
According to IBM, managing requirements enables successful product development based on the set of techniques that are being documented, analyzed, prioritized, and agreed with the development teams, who rely only on approved requirements. This way, the software development engineers will avoid errors, keep track of requirement changes, and foster stakeholder communication from the start of a project throughout the agile product development lifecycle.
Top 5 Agile Techniques
The most adopted agile practices used in the software development lifecycle phases are daily standups, retrospectives, iteration plannings, iteration reviews, and short iterations by a team working on the same project.
With the help of daily standups, retrospectives, iteration planning, sprint review, and short iteration the team learns how to perform successful project communication and project discussions. As the percentage shows, the following practices are carried out by the majority of teams. And, not without results, of course.
Reasons for adopting Agile Methodology
Enhancement of software delivery processes and changing requirements management remain the biggest reasons for adopting Agile. However, there are plenty of other reasons that are also important. For instance, agile principles were adopted because
- 71% of teams aimed at software delivery acceleration
- 63% of teams would like to be more flexible in changing priorities
- 51% of teams were considering agile to enhance productivity
- 47% of teams would like to improve their business
- 42% of teams needed an enhancement in software quality
- 39% of teams wanted to enhance predictability in delivery
- 37% of teams longed for project risk reduction
- 36% of teams tended to improve project visibility
- 31% of teams aimed at strengthening the team spirit
- 26% of teams searched for cost reduction possibilities
- 23% of teams were driven by engineering discipline improvement
- 21% of teams needed to know how to manage distributed teams effectively
- 18% of teams wanted to increase software maintainability
What’s Agile in Design?
User Experience is the perception of a system by a user. Mainly, it involves the process of design and its outcomes. I.e. whether the system is easy to use, its utility, and to what extent is the user interface (UI) effective for a user. Thus, UX design is keen on building systems that deeply and wholly understand the needs of the end-users. More information about UI/UX and its importance for product success can be found here.
Agile UX vs Lean UX – Is there a difference between them?
Using Agile methods practically everywhere in software development, we also use them in designing software. The most common issue occurring in the design lifecycle is the UX incorporation into the fast SDLC iterations and functionality implementation. Mostly, when designers try to resolve complex UIs they go through numerous designs and simultaneously attempt to produce additional results. So, having to carry out two processes at a time makes a team a bit disappointed with the Agile methodology. Here’s when we should consider Lean UX vs Agile UX, specifically the Lean Startup approaches in design development. Eric Ries, the author of Lean Startup speculates:
What if we found ourselves building something that nobody wanted? In that case, what did it matter if we did it on time and on budget?
To answer this question, let’s find out more about the concept of Lean UX and its main principles.
Lean UX Lean User Experience (UX) is a design-related mindset, a culture, and a process that includes both Lean and Agile methods. At the core of Lean UX is the obtaining of feedback in the shortest time possible. This way, having fast responses the team can make quick and valuable decisions. The difference between Agile vs Lean UX is that the first tries to make both designers and developers work unitedly to achieve a common goal, and the second promotes the idea that the product should be carried out outriding the set schedule norms. Being ahead makes MVP developed, tested, and sent for more improvements. So, this process denies the final version of the design to be created beforehand as there should be on-going measuring and validation phases.
Lean UX core concept is in the constant design creation and gathering metrics of what was designed well and what was not. In comparison, traditional UX always tries to understand what the design should be like, and what the final product will look like before initiating the development process. But, using its unique methods, Lean UX offers a process with minimal business outcome risks and solution risks. With the help of Lean UX, you will know at what point you need to stop before making irreversible mistakes and think over your approach, especially if there is a limited budget.
If you’re questioning yourself, where’s the difference between terms, remember that both Lean UX and Agile UX will surely lead to the same product result, but the road to this result will be different for each. The agile methodology uses its key principles to produce one polished product that will be leading on the market. Lean principles allow us to produce several versions of the product so that they could be tested in real-time with a selection of only one final version to be marketed. And, design thinking is the creative problem-solving approach, which includes the three mentioned methodologies: Agile, Lean, and Traditional UX.
How Agile works for Us?
We have a successful experience of using agile software development methodology on projects. Especially, if the requirements are being appropriately set and discussed together with the business logic of the final product. What’s more, we always tell our customers that the more explicitly they can inform about their needs, the better and faster we will produce first results. Also, our customers can collaborate with the team in the agile methodology stages of the production and see the results after each iteration.
Also, before participating in the agile software development phases, we offer customers a risk-free project assessment service – our discovery phase, which we believe to be among the most efficient steps in agile methodology. With the help of the discovery, any client would benefit from a thorough investigation performed by our dedicated team and business analyst. The discovery phase focuses on business idea analysis, its improvement (if needed), and researches whether the customer’s product will be suitable for the software market and meet user demand. This way, we can inform the customer whether the product-to-deploy will be potentially effective to users, and save our clients money and time, stimulate a higher ROI and make them one step ahead of the competitors on the market.
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development states that we should value
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
- Working software over comprehensive documentation,
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation,
- Responding to change over following a plan.
These are the agile principles that make the software development process unique and effective. By so far, agile methodology has shifted the focus from processes, documentation, contract negotiation, following a fixed plan, and sticking to a linear approach to more flexible practices, where communication, collaboration, and constant feedback matter more. And, this agility works well. So, achieving 58% of customer/user satisfaction, 54% in received business value, 48% for on-time delivery, 45% in project quality, 44% in business objectives, 40% in increased productivity, 37% in organizational culture, 35% for process improvement, and more positive numbers, the future is going to be even more Agile!