Agile Methodologies: Why Does Agility Work?
From the very beginning, we have always been committed to agile methodologies, both internally and externally, helping clients to incorporate them into their way of working. It is in our DNA to focus on technical excellence, doing things right, and delivering value to the client.
What are Agile Methodologies?
In this article, we are going to analyze the main characteristics of the Agile philosophy and we will see why it’s much more efficient than other methodologies.
“Agile” is a working system with its origins in software development but, because of its effectiveness, it is also being implemented in other departments and companies. The main objective of Agile methodologies is to develop quality products responding to changing customer needs.
The Origin and Advantages of Agile Methodologies
The origin of Agile dates back to 2001, when relevant members of the community met in Utah to share and discuss the best practices from each company, creating then the “Agile Manifesto“: a working model based on planning, creation, analysis, and continuous improvement. Something constant and fast, with reduced delivery times that seek effectiveness.
This current emerged as an alternative or solution to the problems presented by the methodologies based on the waterfall model, which in reality became a bureaucratic, slow process that did not adapt to changes and ended most of the time in software deliveries that no longer met the client’s needs.
The Values of the Agile Manifesto
One of the things we like the most about Agile methodologies is their values and how clear they are, which enable you to make decisions more quickly and efficiently in a given situation or problem.
- Value individuals more than processes and tools. The main success factor in a project is the motivation of a team to do it. Without people with the right knowledge and attitude, no results are obtained. Processes should be a support to guide work and tools a resource to help improve efficiency, but employees are the most important. Motivated and happy people produce much more.
- Value software that works more than comprehensive documentation. What the software does and how well it does it is the indicator of the project’s progress. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t document anything, but it’s recommended that we only focus on documenting what is useful to us at that given moment. Not all projects and development teams need the same type of documentation.
- Value collaboration with the client more than contractual negotiation. In Agile development, the client/supplier collaboration relationship must come before contractual agreements, with the client becoming a member of the team, who is integrated and collaborates in the work environment.
- Value the reaction to change more than following a plan. Traditional project management disciplines are based on planning and control to avoid deviations from the plan. However, one of the main values of agile development is based on anticipating, embracing, and adapting to change.
The 12 Principles of Agile Methodologies
- Satisfy the client through early and continuous valuable software delivery.
- Accept that requirements change, even in late development stages. Agile processes leverage change to provide a competitive advantage to the customer.
- Deliver functional software frequently —between two weeks and two months— giving preference to the shortest possible time period.
- Collaboration between business managers and developers throughout the project.
- Projects are developed around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and entrust them with the execution of the work.
- The most efficient and effective method of communicating information to the development team and amongst its members is through a face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustained development. Promoters, developers, and users must maintain a steady pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design improves agility.
- Simplicity, or the art of maximizing the amount of work not done.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organized teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to be most effective and then adjusts and refines its behavior accordingly.
What Types of Agile Methodologies We Use
There are several different Agile methodologies, but the ones we currently use at Plain Concepts are Kanban and Scrum.
This methodology is appropriate when there is a continuous flow of work requests and we move into an environment of rapidly changing priorities that are difficult to establish in advance. It is focused on a continuous flow of value and on improving that flow or delivery process from the time the project starts to the time it’s delivered.
To simplify, the Kanban strategy consists of dividing the project tasks into states, the most common of which are: pending, in process, or finished, with the possibility of setting a limit on the number of tasks that can be assigned to each state at the same time. This model provides control over the repetition of tasks or the possibility of forgetting some of them.
Moreover, by minimizing the work in progress and focusing on finishing tasks, it’s possible to avoid changes of context which usually leads to a shortening in delivery time.
The advantages provided by this methodology are:
- Task planning
- Improved teamwork performance
- Visual metrics
- The continuous flow of deliveries
What is Scrum
Scrum is the methodology we use the most at Plain Concepts because in our experience it adapts well to the continuous delivery of value, minimizes productivity loss due to changes in context, and allows us to establish clear goals with our clients.
It’s based on breaking the project into several “milestones” divided into different stages with the goal of making regular and partial deliveries of the final product through interactions called sprints.
This methodology makes it possible to tackle complex projects that require flexibility and speed, which are essential when it comes to executing changes and obtaining results. The strategy is oriented to manage changes in requirements or errors that may occur in developments that are way too long, through frequent meetings to ensure compliance with the established objectives.
The liturgies (meetings) are the fundamental pillar of this methodology, in which we can differentiate between planning meetings, dailies, review meetings, and retrospectives. The latter is the most important one since it is held after a sprint to analyze results and suggest improvements while the project is in progress.
The key aspects of Scrum are innovation, flexibility, competitiveness, and productivity.
Do You Want To Know More?
Agile methodologies will allow you to deliver high-quality products and services, with lower costs and reduced delivery times than with other more traditional methodologies.
If you are interested in incorporating Agile methodologies in your company or you need help to make the most out of them, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts are here to advise you on anything you might need.