An enterprise that aspires to respond in real-time should be agile and show affinity towards rapid adaptability. Every passing day end users needs are changing very fast, as they want more than their basic needs. This leads to very dynamic markets.
In this dynamic market, Agile methodology is an alternative to traditional project management like waterfall, typically used in software development. It helps teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints.
Agile is all about embracing and rapidly adapting to changes, work is performed in a highly collaborative manner by self-organizing teams that embrace and adapt changes to ensure that customer’s needs are truly met.
The idea behind the Agile approach is that of an organization would adapt to dynamic changing conditions by breaking a release into smaller shorter cycles of 1 to 6 weeks called sprints, instead of building a release as in waterfall that is huge in functionality and often late to market making product irrelevant to the changing market.
Agile development methodology provides opportunities to assess the direction of a project throughout. This is achieved through regular cadences of work, known as sprints or iterations, at the end of which teams must present a potentially working product incrementally.
In waterfall methodology, development teams only have one chance to get each aspect of a project right. In an agile paradigm, every aspect of development is constantly reviewed throughout the lifecycle. When a team stops and re-evaluates the direction of a project every two weeks, there’s always time to steer it in the right direction.
To understand better, every IT Professional is his career would have come across this question:
Can a Client envision his product features completely before interacting with working prototype ?
Many development teams have realized the solution for this a hard way and struggle to provide a proper fix for the product when the product is in the last stages of development, making the software irrelevant at the end of the project since the business realities would have changed rapidly. This scenario would lead to huge losses to the customer as well as the development team. This situation is very familiar to the teams who have been following the waterfall development cycle. In waterfall, teams have only one chance at the begin of the product development cycle to interact with the business to ensure that the project is moving in the right direction. This leaves the development team & the client to take huge risk and uncertainty as business requirements keeps changing rapidly.
Main difference between traditional approach like Waterfall Methodology & Agile Methodology is that
1. Team work in linear phase as in relay race.
2. Each phase is succeeded by another phase sequentially.
3. Traditional team have numerous specialized teams which rarely interact and collaborate for project ultimate goal.
4. At the end the Feedback is taken
1. Team work is iterative & incremental as in rapid race.
2. No phase development, Multiple features of product are prioritized and worked incrementally & simultaneously by the team to complete features in working software.
3. Team is composed of mixed skills focused on completing on the committed features
4. Feedback is taken at each incremental sprint in during sprint review meetings from the business and the customer.
In 1970, Dr. Winston Royce presented a paper entitled “Managing the Development of Large Software Systems,” which criticized sequential development. He recommended against the phase based approach in which developers first gather all of a project’s requirements, then complete all of its architecture and design, then write all of the code, and so on. Royce specifically objected to this approach due to the lack of communication between the specialized groups that complete each phase of work.
Agile empowers teams to continuously revise their release plan to optimize its value throughout development, allowing them to be as competitive as possible in the marketplace. An agile development preserves a product’s critical market value and ensures a team’s work doesn’t wind up on a shelf, never released.
In Agile Software Development, Each cycle is called an iteration, or sprint, and it’s almost like a miniature software project of its own, because it includes all of the tasks necessary to release the incremental new functionality. At the end of each sprint, the product should be ready for a GA release.
In addition, one of the most broadly applicable techniques introduced by the agile processes is to express product requirements in the form of user stories. Each user story has various fields including an “actor”, a “goal” or task that they need to perform, an explanation of “why” it is needed and the associated value, and a corresponding “priority”.
Most agile teams include all the people necessary to release software. Typically an agile team will also include a testers, interaction designers, technical writers, and programmers.
At a minimum each agile project has, team of programmers and the group they are developing the application for, i.e. “customers”, customers define the product; a.k.a product owners. And to facilitate between product owners & the team there is Scrum Master. Scrum Master plays a pivotal role, he is guide, philosopher, friend to the agile team, helping the team to complete the commitments in the rapidly changing requirements.
Agile Methods are used in:
- Large scale enterprise software projects
- Consumer software products
- US FDA approved software
- High Availability Systems
- Financial Payment Applications
- Multi Location development
- Non Software Projects
Overall, Agile is a management framework to develop a product usually it is software product. Agile can be implemented in projects where market is dynamic and requirements from the customers keep changing, in this scenario the final working product is of high quality and very much relevant to the current market needs. Agile development can be a very exciting and exhilarating approach. The collaboration and visibility offers a much more rewarding richer experience for teams to develop great software products.
This is first article of 10 part series of article on “Agile Framework and Methodologies”.
In the next I will explain the why Agile should be used and different Methodologies already existing in the IT Industry.