An agile framework is an iterative approach toward completing a project or a particular task under it. A framework helps in planning, managing, and executing tasks in a way that ensures successful project delivery. These frameworks are divided into two categories: frameworks that work within the teams and those that work at a larger scale for the entire organization. The setup offered by the agile framework helps deliver quality software, meeting all the deadlines without wasting resources. There is always room for continuous improvement, as the planning is done under any framework under step-by-step execution. Let us dig deeper and understand every aspect in detail.
What Does it Mean to 'Be Agile'?
To be agile means to respond quickly to situations or scenarios. It is about being adaptive to change and pivoting at the right time to be in sync with the changing environments. A swift response does not mean that quality would get compromised. On the contrary, agile focuses on adapting to change and constantly improving the final product. The primary focus of agility is customer satisfaction and making the best use of the resources to create an excellent market reputation.
Agile Framework: Definition and History
As discussed earlier, agile frameworks are the approaches to managing and completing assigned projects. You can find different agile frameworks for managing a project or developing an application. So, it is fruitful to understand its definition and evolution to identify the best-suited approach for the kind of project assigned to you.
What is Agile Framework?
It is an agile approach to developing an application or executing a project. The agile philosophy ensures that each project gets segregated into tasks and each task gets assigned adequate resources. Resource allocation happens so aptly that the delivery is always on time, and there is no compromise with the final product quality.
Agile Framework: History
The word 'agile' started trending very recently, but its relative terms and methodologies have been in the market for a long time! Evidence of iterative and incremental methods used in the late 1950s. Waterfall came into existence in the early 1970s, followed by Scrum in the 90s. As the world began to move faster with the introduction of technology, agile came into the picture in 2001 and has been the most trusted approach since then. Here is a tabular form of Agile history.
Step-by-Step Agile Development
Iterative and Incremental Methods in Use
Creation of Waterfall Model
Scrum Codified and Put into Use
Agile Manifesto Created
Agile Framework Core Values
There are a few scaled agile framework core values on which the agile methodologies work. These can be rightfully called the pillars of the agile framework. Let us discuss them in detail.
1. Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools
One of the primary objectives of agile frameworks is to prioritize individuals and communications over processes and tools. Every agile methodology framework considers people as its critical asset and values their role in the application development process.
2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
The methodology focuses on delivering a product that meets the client's requirements. In Agile, there is lesser emphasis on curating extensive documentation, and more on developing software as per client requirements. Instead of maintaining the documents that track all the progress in a project, the development team focuses on delivering a product that functions as expected.
3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
Gone are the days when contracts were kings, and organizations put their time and effort into framing them. Instead, according to agile principles, the focus is on continuously improving. So, the teams focus on collaborating with the customers rather than sticking to one document.
4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
The trouble with static plans is that they do not adapt to the change, and this stiffness may result in overall project failure. Agile methodologies address this problem by adapting to the changes brought about by technological advancements and facilitating quick and efficient adjustments as necessary.
These are the values that students learn in Leading SAFe training to learn. It helps them get familiar with the basics of agile methodology and use it to deliver high-quality end products right on time!
Most Popular Agile Frameworks
Listed below are the agile framework examples that any professional in this domain should know about. Moreover, if you are looking forward to building a career in project development, you would have to take up an Agile certification training program under which you will get trained in Agile frameworks in elaboration. Some of the agile frameworks are:
The project managers name the scrum framework in Agile as one of the most popular Agile frameworks. The primary idea behind scrum methodology is to divide the project into smaller tasks, called sprints. The team assigned to complete this project would focus on completing one task at a time, eventually leading to developing the end product.
Initially, a software company designed the scrum methodology. However, organizations in different domains started using it because of its adaptability and flexibility. Three pillars of this methodology are:
- Transparency: It is maintained by using a common language that everyone understands.
- Inspection: Inspection of products at each stage to ensure the quality of the end product.
- Adaptation: It signifies how Scrum focuses on getting in sync with the change, even during the execution phase.
2. eXtreme Programming (XP)
XP works on the philosophy of agile, which is to produce high-quality software for the end user and diving tasks in such a manner that the life of a developer gets easier. The primary objective of this type of agile process is to accommodate the changes in the software requirements. Some benefits of using this framework include cutting costs for software development organizations and ensuring employee retention rates.
The twelve supporting processes specific to the world of software development are:
- Planning game
- Small releases
- Customer acceptance tests
- Simple design
- Pair programming
- Test-driven development
- Continuous integration
- Collective code ownership
- Coding standards
- Sustainable pace
3. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DDSM)
This agile method is all about accepting and accommodating that rework is often necessary during the application development phase. The team following this strategy ensures that each task completed is reversible and change always gets welcomed. The eight principles of the dynamic systems development method are:
- Focus on the business need
- Deliver on time
- Never compromise quality
- Build incrementally from firm foundations
- Develop iteratively
- Communicate continuously and clearly
- Demonstrate control
4. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)
The software products you deliver to your client require upgrades. Therefore, they keep launching newer versions to ensure that their product matches the market requirements and that their users enjoy a technically advanced, feature-rich product. With feature driven development process, developers can accommodate the newer version expectations. Using this method, they can make a new and better product. The project lifecycle under FDD includes the following steps:
- Develop an overall model
- Build a features list
- Plan by feature
- Design by feature
- Build by feature
5. Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
ASD is one of the most common frameworks of agile that focuses on adaptability. It adapts to technical and requirement changes and ensures the end product remains competitive enough to survive in the market. The highlights of this agile methodology are:
- Supports on-time and even before-time product delivery
- It enhances the transparency that the developer has with the client
- Products developed with this method are more adaptive and intuitive.
6. The Crystal Method
Out of the agile frameworks list, the crystal method is the one that supports the core value of agility. It focuses more on communication and interaction amongst individuals rather than processes and tools. The teams using the crystal method find the scope of change and incorporate it into the end product. Additionally, they believe that every project is ever-changing, so they must always be accommodating of future upgradation.
7. Lean Software Development (LSD)
In this agile framework approach, the team goes with the vision that they have to produce the minimum viable product before the launch. They ask the user what they like or dislike about the product and what features they will want to add to it. Based on this information, they keep iterating the product by launching newer versions.
It is a highly streamlined approach that lets you add more functionality in a short span of time. The best part is that it saves a lot of time and effort, and you have clarity that the newer version will have user acceptance.
8. Disciplined Agile (DA)
This agile method prioritizes individuals and offers little guidance to the development teams. It is remarkably similar to the crystal method and has few similarities with a list of agile frameworks, like Kanban. The highlight feature of this methodology is that it gathers the best from all the frameworks and comes up with a development strategy that proves fruitful.
9. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
The product teams use SAFe for successful product deliveries, and the development teams use it to create a safe environment for product development. Additionally, this agile method also helps solve many issues that people in big organizations often face during software product development.
As scaling in agile came into question, SAFe became the first in the list of frameworks for scaling agile. It works best on creating layered solutions for complex problems. There are scaled agile framework certifications by multiple institutes that the professionals in this industry take up to scale up their careers. If you are also looking for such certification programs, opt for KnowledgeHut's SAFe Agilist certification course.
10. Rapid Application Development (RAD)
As the name suggests, it is an agile framework primarily focusing on creating software products and iterating them more frequently based on user feedback. There are four phases of this model, namely:
- Requirements planning
- User design
- Rapid construction
The highlights of this framework are that it allows rapid iteration at a low cost and helps in continuous product improvement. The best part is that it is ideal for every product development, irrespective of the nature of the business.
It is a simple, visual means of managing projects. It was initially just a scheduling method to help with timely project completion. However, it soon became a mainstream method that can help track progress, segment tasks, and analyze the results! It can help identify the issues and waste and reduces the waiting time.
Which Agile Framework is Best?
Every agile framework has its pros and cons, and each fits into some scenario or the other. Therefore, you can do a fair agile frameworks comparison, choosing the one that best caters to your needs and takes you closer to successful project delivery. However, if you must name one out of all the options, Scrum will top the list.
Scrum has an advantage over all other agile frameworks and is amongst the most popular options because of its simplicity and high performance. Organizations use this methodology to solve complex problems with the utmost convenience, and the best part is that the quality of work will not get compromised. So, if you are looking for a framework that makes optimum use of resources and delivers premium quality end products on or before the deadline, Scrum is your calling!
How Do Companies Choose an Agile Framework?
Companies consider multiple factors while choosing the suitable agile methodology for themselves. Let us discuss a few of these factors below.
- Team Size: Small companies with fewer projects can opt for Scrum as it matches their requirements. However, larger teams can opt for the SAFe.
- Complexity Involved: Projects that are complex and require multi-layered solutions need a structured and planned framework approach that SAFe offers. The company would have to consider this factor to decide which method would be apt for its project.
- Project Requirements: The specific needs of a project influence the choice of agile methodology that the company uses. For example, projects that accommodate changes should opt for the RAD model as it rapidly iterates. On the other hand, Scrum is best if you need rapid prototyping.
- Team Expertise: Which agile framework an organization chooses depends on the expertise level of the team. They can only opt for a particular framework if their team holds expertise and hands-on experience in handling projects using it.
- Organizational Culture: If the organization maintains utmost client transparency, it can rightfully go for SAFe. Similarly, the culture the team follows decides which framework would work for them.
Benefits of Agile Framework
There are countless benefits of using agile for project delivery. Some of them are:
- Agile offers flexibility within the projects by adapting to the required changes. As a result, it makes it easier for the teams to manage changes and adjust their work environment accordingly to get the best results.
- If the choice of method is apt, the organization can expect to deliver high-quality end products. As a result, they will always meet the deadlines, and the budget or other resources will also be properly used.
- Agile emphasizes continuous testing, which leads to perfection. Thus, it helps ensure that the software delivered has fewer defects and is fit for the market.
- Another benefit of the agile framework is that it helps teams identify the errors and the risks involved. Thus, it reduces the risk of failure at a later stage and ensures excellent customer satisfaction.
There are countless other benefits of the agile framework that the organizations and the teams can ripe if they use the most suited one.
The Reasons Behind SAFe's Success
SAFe has gained popularity amongst organizations from various business domains quite quickly. As a result, it gets widely used, and there are multiple reasons behind this. Some of the reasons for its success are:
- SAFe provides a comprehensive approach to project management by introducing agile scaling into an enterprise. It aptly addresses the needs of large organizations, helping them deliver the best quality end products to their clients.
- It aligns with all the industry standards, so the companies never have to worry about complying with the regulatory requirements.
- The roles and responsibilities of every team member are clearly mentioned, ensuring there is no confusion amongst the teams. There is utmost transparency, and the accountabilities are kept clear.
- Another reason organizations use this framework is that it helps scale agile practices across the enterprise. In addition, it helps organizations handle complex projects with the agile framework.
All these factors and many others make SAFe a popular choice amongst enterprises. In addition, there are certification courses provided by KnowledgeHut that professionals can do to learn and benefit their organization.
No framework is a silver bullet for any problem. The first step is to identify the real problem and take inspiration from a framework or multiple frameworks to solve them. In most cases, a framework cannot be applied directly and in its entirety to an organization. The first step should always be to start with the guidance provided there and gradually evolve parts of it depending on your context. Just as we weigh the options of "build vs buy" when developing a solution, we need to take a similarly pragmatic approach when it comes to frameworks. Building a custom framework from scratch is likely to be costly and time-consuming. Instead, buy or reuse an existing framework and improve it through principles of empiricism. This is the secret to succeeding with frameworks.