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The Definitive Guide to Agile Framework

In present times, nearly all software development companies and teams tend to follow Agile in one form or another. But, before committing to Agile, it is very important to understand-What is Agile?How does Agile work?Organizations and project teams should primarily understand “why” they want to adopt Agile. If you are keen on learning more about Agile, you have landed yourself in the perfect place, where you will get to know everything that you need to know about Agile, right from the history to its usage.Here, we will not only discuss what Agile is but also talk about what Agile is not. Once you understand what Agile really means, you’ll not only be able to implement Agile practices at your organisation but also acknowledge situations which can be improved with the help of Agile.  Read along to know what it really means at its root.Understanding AgileAgile is not a methodology, neither is it a specific way of working on software development, nor a framework or process. Agile in actual, is a set of values and principles, as defined by the Agile Manifesto.It is a term which describes the different approaches to software development, highlighting team collaboration, incremental delivery, recurrent planning, and recurrent learning. It is an iterative approach that builds software incrementally, instead of delivering it all at once.Agile doesn’t make any decision for you but provides you with a platform that teams can make use of to make decisions that result in better software development.  How does Agile work?Agile breaks down a project into small scales of user functionality, known as user stories.  These can be compared to a to-do list that you make for the tasks that you have to complete. Developers work on these user stories, prioritise these user stories and group them into iterations, assigning deadlines to each iteration.  Once the iteration is over, developers might have a possible product that users can test. Hence, Agile projects help in creating user stories on which they can work iteratively, depending on the user’s feedback. This way, the software becomes better suited for users according to their needs while at the same time, it minimises complexity. Instead of a pre-set of requirements, developers work according to adapt their software as per the requirements by users’ feedback.Let’s take a step back and have a look at how Agile was discovered and where it came from.Life before AgileIn today’s world, project managers can make a choice out of multiple methodologies addressing the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for a particular project. The top choice is Agile, which helps teams to work according to the changing requirements through incremental, iterative project work.Before Agile was born, the process that SDLC  followed was very inflexible. The process it followed was:Collecting the requirementsDesigning and implementing the softwareVerifying if the software is still functioningMaintaining the softwareWithout any alteration, the phases were completed in the above-mentioned order. Each phase was first completed and validated before starting the next process. Any changes in the previous phase meant starting the project from the square one until each phase was redone and approved.Though it's unbelievable, such inflexibility of this process didn’t cause any kind of hindrance in the process of software development. This was because technological innovation was very slow at that period of time. There was no problem in spending several months gathering information and requirements, while at the same time design a software program.Origin of AgileIn the early 2000s, seventeen software developers met in Snowbird, Utah to discuss the methodologies that were being used at that time. These seventeen software developers included Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, Dave Thomas, Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, Jim Highsmith, Alistair Cockburn, and Bob Martin. They all published the ‘Manifesto to Agile Software Development’ together, which marks the start of the agile movement.According to the Agile Manifesto:The 4 core values as stated by the Agile Manifesto are:Individuals and interactions over processes and toolsWorking software over comprehensive documentationCustomer collaboration over contract negotiationRespond to change over following a planThe four values outlined in the Agile manifesto promotes focusing more on the quality of the software by creating products that meet the consumer’s needs and expectations.The four values and twelve principles of the Agile ManifestoIndividuals and interactions over processes and toolsPeople and individuals respond to the business needs in order to drive the development process, hence people should be valued more than tools or processes.Working software over comprehensive documentationAgile takes user stories as requirements, which a developer uses to begin building new functions.  The Agile Manifesto values working software more than it values documentation.Customer collaboration over contract negotiation According to the Agile Manifesto, a customer can be engaged and can collaborate throughout the process of development. This makes it easier for the team to meet the needs of the customer.Respond to change over following a planWith Agile, priorities can be changed from one iteration to another iteration while new features can be added as well. Agile believes that changes improve a project and provides additional value.The Twelve Principles are the guiding principles for the methodologies which are included in the Agile Manifesto. It describes the way by which changes are welcomed and customers are focused during the process.Highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.The focus is to deliver what the customer wants, not what one has planned. Customers are more happy with receiving working software at regular intervals, rather than waiting for a long period for new releases.Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.Embrace changes, even if it is requested by the customer late in the project. One can try and avoid delays when a new change has been requested.Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to a shorter timescale.Create short periods of time to run tasks and make changes. It ensures a regular delivery of the working software.Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.It is important to build a bridge between developers and the business side of the project so that they can make use of the same tools and work together to make better decisions.Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.Motivate and support your team so that they work in a more dedicated manner. Motivated teams deliver the best of the results that they can.The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.Communication is a key factor for teams in order to deliver information. Communication is possible in multiple ways, like documenting conversations, creating email streams, using collaboration software, keeping the development teams co-located, etc.Working software is the primary measure of progress.Progress is measured by the success of the software (or the product), not by completing the tasks and moving along the timeline.Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.Sprints in activities help teams stay motivated and less burnout, which doesn’t affect the quality of the project.Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.To maintain the right pace and in order to constantly improve the product, the right skill, as well as good design, is very important.Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not being done—is essential.Cut down the unnecessary complexities and keep things as simple as possible in order to streamline your development process.The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.Team members take ownership, communicate more regularly and share ideas in order to deliver quality products.At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.The process of self-improvement, process improvement, working on their skills and techniques helps a team to work in a more effective manner.Why use Agile?Agile involves the process of continuous planning and feedback in order to deliver business value since the beginning of the project. The whole process encourages user involvement as well as provides visibility and transparency so that the actual progress of the project is visible. Read along to know the key benefits of agile management.Increased project control with early and predictable delivery:Due to regularised sprint meetings, features are delivered in more flexible manners with more transparency. If the demands are met before the planned or predicted date, the software can be Beta-tested or released beforehand.Client gratification:The process involves allowing the client to determine the priority list of the features. This way, the team can understand what is more important to the client and his business, and work accordingly. The client is involved in every sprint review. Moreover, the process helps in delivering the products quicker or by the predicted date, making the clients get early access to the product.Improvement in quality:Since the exercise involves breaking down the project into small units, high-quality development, testing and collaboration come into focus. Moreover, the quality is improved due to frequent builds and testing after each iteration as defects can be identified and fixed during the process.Predictability of Projects:The value of a project is calculated on the basis of cost and ROI. If the ROI outweighs the cost, then the company might carry the project further. But predicting the results of the projects where ROI is not known becomes strenuous. Hence, predictability is very crucial in projects. By using Agile techniques during the planning phase of the project, the cost of a project can be predicted and it can also be concluded if they should continue with the project.Reduced Risk: The chances of project failure are nearly eliminated by the use of Agile methodologies as a functioning product is available from the very first sprint. Since the product is developed in sprints, it is easier to know if the product or the approach will work or not.Analysis, design, coding, and testing happens continuously:For an Agile project, analysing, designing, coding and testing are never done with. As long as there are features to work on and deliveries to make, these activities are a continuous process.Not all developers advocate agile. Some of the developers follow the traditional methodology known as ‘waterfall’, which is also used widely in businesses. Let's have a look at what this traditional methodology is and how it is different from Agile.Waterfall Vs Agile:What is Waterfall methodology?Waterfall methodology is a linear approach to software development. The Waterfall model follows the sequential order, meaning that the project development team moves to the next phase of testing or developing only if the previous step has been completed successfully.This method is also known as the Linear Sequential Life Cycle Model.What is Agile?Agile follows the process of continuous development and testing in the software development process itself. Unlike the Waterfall Model, the development and testing activities are concurrent in this model. Communication between the customers, developers, managers, and testers are possible in this methodology.Advantages of the Waterfall Model:Makes faster delivery of the project.The whole process and the results are documented properly.Works well for small sized projects where there are easy requirements.Each phase has a specific delivery date and a review processBeneficial for managing dependencies.Advantages of the Agile:This process focuses on the client, making sure that the client us involved during all the stages.The quality of the developed product is assured with the usage of this method.The risk in the development process reduces as both the team and the client know the progress of the project.Better results are obtained.Limitations of the Waterfall Model:This model is not suitable for large size projects.One cannot move back in phases to make any changes.The results will be less effective if the requirements are not clear from the starting.In this model, the testing process starts only after the development is over. In such cases, there are higher possibilities that bugs will be found in the development, making it much more expensive to fix.  Limitations of the Agile:An expert is required to make important decisions.The project can go off track if the vision and mission of the project are not clear.The cost of implementation of the agile method is a little more as compared to other methodologies.Difference between Waterfall Method and Agile Methodologies.AgileProject Trait or FactoWaterfallHas an incremental approach.ApproachThe process is divided into distinct phases.Customers are preferred throughout the project.Customer AvailabilityCustomers are involved only after the product has been developed.Small teams with good coordination and synchronization.TeamTeam coordination and synchronization are limited.It has a flexible methodology.MethodologyIt has a structured process, so most of the times it can be quite rigid.Can be considered as a collection of many projects.Final ProductOne single project is completed after the software development.It is a flexible method which allows changes to be made as per requirements, even after the completion of the initial planning.ProcessThe requirements cannot be changed once the process of project development starts.Works well when the scope is not known in advance as changes can be made in the process.ScopeWorks well when the scope is known in advance or when there are limitations to changes in the process.Test Plan is reviewed after every sprint.Test PlanTest Plan is not discussed during the test phase.Follows an iterative approach. Planning, development, prototyping and other phases may occur more than once.Software Development PhasesThe project development phases like designing, development, testing, etc take place once, only after the process is done with.During the project, requirements are prepared every day by the Product Owner along with the team.RequirementsRequirements are prepared at the beginning of the project by the business analysts.Testing is performed simultaneously with the software development process.Testing of the productThe testing phase comes only after the Build has been prepared.Agile process flowThe following is an outline of the flow of the process from creating a product to the completion of a sprint in the Agile Development application.Step 1: Create a product.A product is a set of features that are offered to users. It can either focus on a few user stories or many users, which can contain many tasks.Step2: Create an agile group.A group of Agile team can be formed, defining the number of tasks that a member can complete in a sprint to define the capacity of the group.Step 3: Create a release.Create a release which has a start date and an end date, in which the development iterations will be completed.Step 4: Create a personalised background.It can be created by defining the filter criteria. It can be a combination of stories, incidents, defects, etc.Step 5: Create a sprint.It is the time frame within which a development team delivers one or more stories. A release can have multiple sprints. A team is expected to complete all the assigned stories within a sprint.Step 6: Planning the sprint. Before starting a sprint, decide on the stories from the backlog that can be committed to complete within a sprint. Stories to be worked on in a sprint should be selected on the basis of priorities.,Step 7: Track the progress of a sprint.Team members should update their tasks and story records on a daily basis to communicate regarding their progress.Step 8: Track the progress of the release.This is done to make sure that the team is completing stories and is on track to achieve the goal.Characteristics of Agile:The process of Agile Software Development involves cross-functional teams working concurrently on various phases like planning, designing, requirement analysis, etc. A working model becomes available at the end of each iteration. The following are the salient characteristics of Agile:Small sized, co-located,  self-organized teams work together in cross-functional ways to deliver business value.Management supports redistributed decision making.Face-to-face iteration replaces temporary documentation.The process supports full transparency, inculcating trust.Makes improvement in a continuous process, making it a part of the culture of the company.Short loops of feedback help in delivering high quality of products.Functions in small, cross-functional teams, which has proven to be more productive than larger teams.The process of continuous testing measures the progress as well as prevents defects.The transition of the project from one phase to another is smoother as the team has a proper, balanced distribution of tasks.All members act as leaders in the project as they lead and take responsibility in their respective project phases. A project is not complete if one member does not do their part.Working with Agile in a distributed team environmentFor a team working together, communicating in person is more sought after than being distributed over multiple locations. It is recommended to co-locate your team, but many times teams are unable to do so for critical business reasons. There’s more to the challenges faced by the distributed software team:Coordinating across different time zones.Building a good rapport when everyone is not present in the same officeCollaborating with different development cultures.Scheduling meetings when both teams are online for a short period of time.Under such situations, teams need to learn to follow Agile principles and practices in a distributed environment. This section discusses this in detail.Additional Communication responsibilities:Each team member needs to put in extra effort when working with remote team members and communicating with them, emphasizing more on the importance of being available and open.Dedication:All team members should be committed and dedicated to making Agile work in a distributed environment. The management must support the processes and tools required to do so.Even Distribution of Work:All team members should have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, along with an equal distribution of work. If there is an imbalance in the workload and it is being ignored, then it might risk the schedule of the project delivery.   Pair Programming:In pair programming, two members of the team sit side by side and work on the same code. It is a challenging task for distributed teams. This can be replaced by a virtual experience, like having a video-conferencing as a solution.Understand the Time Difference:Teams face a lot of communication problems if their team members work in different time zones. You can help your team across the world by making them aware of the different time zones in which the team members are working. Using a  physical map with pushpins depicting how the team is distributed, is an example for the same.Use the right tools and training:Identify the tools that will help your team. Get consents from your team members and see if the tool will be helpful for the team or not for that project. Most importantly, train your team on the tools. Don’t expect the team members to know about the new tools and how to use them without any practice.  Train them for the same.With many organizations going global, distributed teams are becoming a common culture to work in. Agile, along with additional efforts by the team, will work well with the distributed teams.Different Agile FrameworksThere are various methods and frameworks that are used by businesses and organizations in the world of development and manufacturing. To name a few:Extreme Programming(EX)ScrumFeature Driven Development (FDD)Dynamic Systems Development Method(DSDM)Crystal MethodologyKanban Method (Lean or Agile)Pragmatic ProgrammingLean DevelopmentUnified ProcessRational Unified ProcessScrum at a glanceScrum is a framework which is used by teams to help them manage their work. It implements Agile principles as a set of artifacts, roles, and practices.Scrum Roles: Scrum has specified three important roles, namely Product Owner, Scrum Master, Scrum Team.Product Owner:A Product Owner holds the responsibility for the product that the team is building and why they are building it. Moreover, he is responsible for keeping the backlog up-to-date and in the order of the priority.Scrum Master:He holds the responsibility to ensure that the team is following the scrum process. They are in the continuous look out for the team’s improvement, while at the same time work on resolving the backlog issues that arise during the sprint.  Scrum Team: The individuals who comprise the team with the responsibility of building the product. They are the engineer of the product and its quality.Scrum Events: Scrum events are used in order to create regularity. All the events are time-boxed, that is it cannot exceed the fixed maximum duration. The elements of Scrum Events are Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum Meetings, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.Sprint: A product incremental is developed in a Sprint. It is usually of a duration of one month or less. The main motive is to provide a pattern to work for the team and the business.Sprint Planning: The work to be performed in a Sprint is discussed and planned in a Sprint Planning meeting.Daily Scrum Meetings:It is a 15-minute meeting held for the team which is conducted on a daily basis. The main motive is to understand the work done since the previously held scrum meeting and to create a plan for the day. It is often referred to as the Daily Stand-up Meeting.Sprint Review: A Sprint Review is held at the end of every Sprint. The team sits along with the stakeholders to discuss what was done in the Sprint. The main objective of this meeting is to obtain feedback for further progress.Sprint Retrospective: It occurs after a Sprint Review and prior to the next sprint planning. The main goal is to introspect and improve in order to make the next Sprint even more effective.Scrum Artifacts: It is like a logbook which provides the Scrum team and the stakeholders with the information that they need to be aware of, like the understanding of the project under development, the activities done and being planned in the project. The Scrum Artifacts are Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment.Product Backlog: It is a prioritized list of values that a team can deliver made available by the Product Owner to the Scrum Team. The Product Owner adds, changes and re-prioritizes the product backlog as needed.Sprint Backlog:It is the list of items that a team plans to deliver in the sprint. The sprint starts when all the members of the team agree that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.Product Increment: This is the most important Scrum Artifact. The product of a Sprint can be known as an Incremental if the produces product is potentially shippable. It should meet all of the quality criteria that are set by the Product Owner and the team.  What is Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®?Scaled Agile Framework provides a simple, lightweight experience for the software developing team, where they can apply lean-agile practices at the enterprise level. It can handle the needs of large value streams and complex system developments, despite being simple and light in weight. Its framework is divided into three segments: Team, Program, and Portfolio.SAFe® allow teams to do the following:Implement Lean-Agile software at an enterprise levelIt is based on the principles of  Lean and AgileIt is designed to meet the needs of all stakeholders within an organization.DevOps Vs AgileUsing Agile and DevOps are considered to be the best approach for bringing change within a team or an organisation. One of the most common questions that come across people’s mind is how are Agile and DevOps related to each other. In this regard, it must be noted that DevOps did not emerge as a response to Agile; rather these two are discrete approaches. DevOps slowly grew as a means to plug the communication gap in Agile development.Let's have a look at what this actually means and how Agile and DevOps are related.What is DevOps?DevOps is a culture which promotes collaboration between the Development and Operation Team. It helps in deploying code to production in a faster and automated way., increasing the organization’s speed to deliver applications and services.Difference between Agile and DevOps.AgileProject Trait or FactoDevOpsIt is an iterative approach that focuses on the collaboration, customer feedback and small releases of the product.DefinitionIt is an approach that brings together the practice of development and operations team.It focuses on constant changes.TaskFocuses on constant testing and delivery.Manages complex projects.PurposeManages end-to-end engineering processes.Provided by the customers.FeedbackProvided by the internal team.Agile doesn’t emphasize on automation.AutomationDevOps primary goal is Automation.Can be implemented with a range of frameworks like sprint, safe and scrum.ImplementationDoesn’t have any commonly accepted framework. Its primary goal is focusing on collaboration.Smaller the team, even a few people will work on the project, meaning they can move faster.Team SizeThey have a relatively larger team size as it involves stack-holders.Emphasizes on getting all of its members trained so that they can be familiar with the skills.Skill SetDevelopment and operation teams divide and spread the skill sets between themselves.Agile targets Software DevelopmentScopeDevOps targets end-to-end business solution and faster deliverySoftware DevelopingImportanceDeveloping, testing and implementation all are important.Application of Agile outside SoftwareThe end result after an agile application is a product or a project that will meet best with the customer needs, while at the same time deliver it with minimal cost and time, enabling organisations to attain results earlier as compared to the results obtained via the traditional approaches.The roots of Agile Software Developments are lean, agile manufacturing and organizational learning. Looking at these roots, one can realise that they did not originate in the world of software. Many practices of Agile like Stand-up meetings, prioritization, and visual management originated outside software.These techniques are applied in the development sector of non-software products as well, such as computers, medical devices, computers, food, clothing, etc. Principles of Agile Software Development have found applications in general management platforms, like finance, governance, risk, etc.Common Myths about AgileMyths and misunderstandings are common to spread over any method or framework. With time, it becomes a belief and people start to accept it as common knowledge. Read along to know some of the most common myths that have been growing around Agile.Implementation of Agile is easy:Teams should not just learn the best practices of Agile, but should also be able to judge if the selected project is the right fit for agile. They should evaluate if the organization can adopt the values and principles of agile. It is very important for the organisation to invest the time, effort and resources to institute and establish the expectations, culture, and infrastructure to hold up the implementation of Agile methodology. Practice and commitment are very much required as well.Agile Practice is New:Agile has been in practice since the greater part of the last century. The frameworks which are now collectively known as Agile mostly evolved during the late 1980s and 1990s. Hence, many people are familiar with Agile.  Reading is enough to know about Agile:Reading a book to understand Agile is not enough. It is a good idea to read a book to get a good understanding, but it cannot replace practical experience, which is very important to enable an agile mindset and to transform an organisation to become agile.Agile doesn't need any planning:Planning is very vital with any approach, that is if not carried out properly, it will diminish the effectiveness of performance. Although, Agile plans the activities more evenly throughout the project life cycle. Planning starts right from the beginning of an agile project and is continuously iterated throughout the project as new information is gained. Working in this manner makes the project team more effective and help them adapt to changes in an easier way.Agile is not the same as anarchy:Managers feel that self-organisation is identical to anarchy and hence, fear losing control over their agile team. Dues to Agile, the role of management may change but managers play an integral role in their company. They have the responsibility to define visions and goals, as well as help the team to gain full potential.Agile gives prompt results: Agile transformations always go through a learning curve, but they mostly deliver huge benefits. The delivered results might go downwards before it changes to going upwards in the process before it begins to enhance its delivery capabilities.Agile is possible only with small projects:Agile development is composed of small groups, who are cross-functional and collaborative throughout the process of development. This motion is equally effective for larger projects as multiple teams can be formed where they can focus on separate components.Agile is applicable only for software deliveries:The Agile manifesto describes agile in the context of software delivery. But Agile can be used in businesses which are not software-related as Agile is suitable for any dynamic business which experiences variability.Agile Transformation vs. Agile Adoption A strong majority of organizations are already defaulting to Agile. But there is one common barrier. The lack of understanding of the differences between Agile transformation and Agile adoption. A clear perception of these differences is necessary to realize which is the best fit for your team or organization ー Agile Adoption or Agile Transformation.Agile Adoption: The word Adoption is used to describe the action of taking up or putting something into action or effect. Similarly, Agile Adoption can be referred to as the act of “doing Agile”.Agile adoption makes the process of software development simpler, faster and better.Agile Transformation: Agile Transformation refers to the process of converting a business or an organisation from its previously followed methods to ‘Agile’ methods, which will help them in continuous delivery of software in a fluid manner. The process involves a change in the mindset of all the people working in the organisation, which might not be acceptable by all.An effective Agile transformation is usually seen to happen in three stages-Organizational transformation: This entails setting up teams, defining processes, and finally, deciding how the teams will work in close collaboration.Workflow transformation: This is intended to establish a culture of “self-organization” and empower team members to effectively carry out Agile-specific ceremonies and activities.Personal transformation: This phase aims at developing a collective “Agile mindset” which fosters continuous improvement and enables team members to deliver continuous value.  Agile AdoptionFactorAgile TransformationAgile adoptions are fast. Can be measured in days or weeks.Speed of ChangeAgile Transformations take a long time. Can be measured in years.Short TermPlanning TimeframeLong TermAgile Adoption has a very rare impact.Impact on the Structure of the organization.Directly impacts the power and controls in an organisation.The team and the stakeholders might feel that has changed to become more self-organized.Change in Culture.It has a widespread impact as the whole culture is being transformed.Agile will make all the difference The future is ripe with endless possibilities for Agile, and companies across the globe are already realizing it.Various organizations around the globe are now adopting different approaches to software development according to their needs and demands.Agile has got a promising future in particular for the teams making the best use of it.In the long haul, the same teams will help their organisations by delivering products at less cost. With AI and big data becoming a core part of decision making, data-driven Agile will soon become a major focus.On a closing note, Agile and its practice do not commit to resolving each and every problem faced by an organization. But they do guarantee to establish an environment which will help them solve problems through learning, continual planning, and collaboration.The motto remains the same: to deliver a high-quality product in a shorter period of time.

The Definitive Guide to Agile Framework

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The Definitive Guide to Agile Framework

In present times, nearly all software development companies and teams tend to follow Agile in one form or another. But, before committing to Agile, it is very important to understand-

  • What is Agile?
  • How does Agile work?

Organizations and project teams should primarily understand “why” they want to adopt Agile. If you are keen on learning more about Agile, you have landed yourself in the perfect place, where you will get to know everything that you need to know about Agile, right from the history to its usage.

Here, we will not only discuss what Agile is but also talk about what Agile is not. Once you understand what Agile really means, you’ll not only be able to implement Agile practices at your organisation but also acknowledge situations which can be improved with the help of Agile.  

Read along to know what it really means at its root.

Understanding Agile

Agile is not a methodology, neither is it a specific way of working on software development, nor a framework or process. Agile in actual, is a set of values and principles, as defined by the Agile Manifesto.

It is a term which describes the different approaches to software development, highlighting team collaboration, incremental delivery, recurrent planning, and recurrent learning. It is an iterative approach that builds software incrementally, instead of delivering it all at once.

Agile doesn’t make any decision for you but provides you with a platform that teams can make use of to make decisions that result in better software development.  

How does Agile work?

Agile breaks down a project into small scales of user functionality, known as user stories.  These can be compared to a to-do list that you make for the tasks that you have to complete. Developers work on these user stories, prioritise these user stories and group them into iterations, assigning deadlines to each iteration.  

Once the iteration is over, developers might have a possible product that users can test. Hence, Agile projects help in creating user stories on which they can work iteratively, depending on the user’s feedback. This way, the software becomes better suited for users according to their needs while at the same time, it minimises complexity. Instead of a pre-set of requirements, developers work according to adapt their software as per the requirements by users’ feedback.

Let’s take a step back and have a look at how Agile was discovered and where it came from.

Life before Agile

In today’s world, project managers can make a choice out of multiple methodologies addressing the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for a particular project. The top choice is Agile, which helps teams to work according to the changing requirements through incremental, iterative project work.

Before Agile was born, the process that SDLC  followed was very inflexible. The process it followed was:

  • Collecting the requirements
  • Designing and implementing the software
  • Verifying if the software is still functioning
  • Maintaining the software

Without any alteration, the phases were completed in the above-mentioned order. Each phase was first completed and validated before starting the next process. Any changes in the previous phase meant starting the project from the square one until each phase was redone and approved.

Though it's unbelievable, such inflexibility of this process didn’t cause any kind of hindrance in the process of software development. This was because technological innovation was very slow at that period of time. There was no problem in spending several months gathering information and requirements, while at the same time design a software program.

Origin of Agile

In the early 2000s, seventeen software developers met in Snowbird, Utah to discuss the methodologies that were being used at that time. These seventeen software developers included Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, Dave Thomas, Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, Jim Highsmith, Alistair Cockburn, and Bob Martin. They all published the ‘Manifesto to Agile Software Development’ together, which marks the start of the agile movement.

Origin of Agile

According to the Agile Manifesto:

The 4 core values as stated by the Agile Manifesto are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Respond to change over following a plan

The four values outlined in the Agile manifesto promotes focusing more on the quality of the software by creating products that meet the consumer’s needs and expectations.

The four values and twelve principles of the Agile Manifesto

Agile Manifesto

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

People and individuals respond to the business needs in order to drive the development process, hence people should be valued more than tools or processes.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Agile takes user stories as requirements, which a developer uses to begin building new functions.  The Agile Manifesto values working software more than it values documentation.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 

According to the Agile Manifesto, a customer can be engaged and can collaborate throughout the process of development. This makes it easier for the team to meet the needs of the customer.

Respond to change over following a plan

With Agile, priorities can be changed from one iteration to another iteration while new features can be added as well. Agile believes that changes improve a project and provides additional value.

The Twelve Principles are the guiding principles for the methodologies which are included in the Agile Manifesto. It describes the way by which changes are welcomed and customers are focused during the process.

12 principles of the Agile Manifesto

Highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

The focus is to deliver what the customer wants, not what one has planned. Customers are more happy with receiving working software at regular intervals, rather than waiting for a long period for new releases.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Embrace changes, even if it is requested by the customer late in the project. One can try and avoid delays when a new change has been requested.

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to a shorter timescale.

Create short periods of time to run tasks and make changes. It ensures a regular delivery of the working software.

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

It is important to build a bridge between developers and the business side of the project so that they can make use of the same tools and work together to make better decisions.

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Motivate and support your team so that they work in a more dedicated manner. Motivated teams deliver the best of the results that they can.

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Communication is a key factor for teams in order to deliver information. Communication is possible in multiple ways, like documenting conversations, creating email streams, using collaboration software, keeping the development teams co-located, etc.

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Progress is measured by the success of the software (or the product), not by completing the tasks and moving along the timeline.

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Sprints in activities help teams stay motivated and less burnout, which doesn’t affect the quality of the project.

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

To maintain the right pace and in order to constantly improve the product, the right skill, as well as good design, is very important.

Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not being done—is essential.

Cut down the unnecessary complexities and keep things as simple as possible in order to streamline your development process.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Team members take ownership, communicate more regularly and share ideas in order to deliver quality products.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

The process of self-improvement, process improvement, working on their skills and techniques helps a team to work in a more effective manner.

Why use Agile?

6 Benefits of Agile Software Development

Agile involves the process of continuous planning and feedback in order to deliver business value since the beginning of the project. The whole process encourages user involvement as well as provides visibility and transparency so that the actual progress of the project is visible. Read along to know the key benefits of agile management.

Increased project control with early and predictable delivery:

Due to regularised sprint meetings, features are delivered in more flexible manners with more transparency. If the demands are met before the planned or predicted date, the software can be Beta-tested or released beforehand.

Client gratification:

The process involves allowing the client to determine the priority list of the features. This way, the team can understand what is more important to the client and his business, and work accordingly. The client is involved in every sprint review. Moreover, the process helps in delivering the products quicker or by the predicted date, making the clients get early access to the product.

Improvement in quality:

Since the exercise involves breaking down the project into small units, high-quality development, testing and collaboration come into focus. Moreover, the quality is improved due to frequent builds and testing after each iteration as defects can be identified and fixed during the process.

Predictability of Projects:

The value of a project is calculated on the basis of cost and ROI. If the ROI outweighs the cost, then the company might carry the project further. But predicting the results of the projects where ROI is not known becomes strenuous. Hence, predictability is very crucial in projects. By using Agile techniques during the planning phase of the project, the cost of a project can be predicted and it can also be concluded if they should continue with the project.

Reduced Risk: 

The chances of project failure are nearly eliminated by the use of Agile methodologies as a functioning product is available from the very first sprint. Since the product is developed in sprints, it is easier to know if the product or the approach will work or not.

Analysis, design, coding, and testing happens continuously:

For an Agile project, analysing, designing, coding and testing are never done with. As long as there are features to work on and deliveries to make, these activities are a continuous process.

Not all developers advocate agile. Some of the developers follow the traditional methodology known as ‘waterfall’, which is also used widely in businesses. Let's have a look at what this traditional methodology is and how it is different from Agile.

Waterfall Vs Agile:

Waterfall Vs Agile

What is Waterfall methodology?

Waterfall methodology is a linear approach to software development. The Waterfall model follows the sequential order, meaning that the project development team moves to the next phase of testing or developing only if the previous step has been completed successfully.

This method is also known as the Linear Sequential Life Cycle Model.

What is Agile?

Agile follows the process of continuous development and testing in the software development process itself. Unlike the Waterfall Model, the development and testing activities are concurrent in this model. Communication between the customers, developers, managers, and testers are possible in this methodology.

Advantages of the Waterfall Model:

  • Makes faster delivery of the project.
  • The whole process and the results are documented properly.
  • Works well for small sized projects where there are easy requirements.
  • Each phase has a specific delivery date and a review process
  • Beneficial for managing dependencies.

Advantages of the Agile:

  • This process focuses on the client, making sure that the client us involved during all the stages.
  • The quality of the developed product is assured with the usage of this method.
  • The risk in the development process reduces as both the team and the client know the progress of the project.
  • Better results are obtained.

Limitations of the Waterfall Model:

  • This model is not suitable for large size projects.
  • One cannot move back in phases to make any changes.
  • The results will be less effective if the requirements are not clear from the starting.
  • In this model, the testing process starts only after the development is over. In such cases, there are higher possibilities that bugs will be found in the development, making it much more expensive to fix.  

Limitations of the Agile:

  • An expert is required to make important decisions.
  • The project can go off track if the vision and mission of the project are not clear.
  • The cost of implementation of the agile method is a little more as compared to other methodologies.

Difference between Waterfall Method and Agile Methodologies.

AgileProject Trait or FactoWaterfall
Has an incremental approach.ApproachThe process is divided into distinct phases.
Customers are preferred throughout the project.Customer AvailabilityCustomers are involved only after the product has been developed.
Small teams with good coordination and synchronization.TeamTeam coordination and synchronization are limited.
It has a flexible methodology.MethodologyIt has a structured process, so most of the times it can be quite rigid.
Can be considered as a collection of many projects.Final ProductOne single project is completed after the software development.
It is a flexible method which allows changes to be made as per requirements, even after the completion of the initial planning.ProcessThe requirements cannot be changed once the process of project development starts.
Works well when the scope is not known in advance as changes can be made in the process.ScopeWorks well when the scope is known in advance or when there are limitations to changes in the process.
Test Plan is reviewed after every sprint.Test PlanTest Plan is not discussed during the test phase.
Follows an iterative approach. Planning, development, prototyping and other phases may occur more than once.Software Development PhasesThe project development phases like designing, development, testing, etc take place once, only after the process is done with.
During the project, requirements are prepared every day by the Product Owner along with the team.RequirementsRequirements are prepared at the beginning of the project by the business analysts.
Testing is performed simultaneously with the software development process.Testing of the productThe testing phase comes only after the Build has been prepared.

Agile process flow

The following is an outline of the flow of the process from creating a product to the completion of a sprint in the Agile Development application.

Agile process flow

Step 1: Create a product.

A product is a set of features that are offered to users. It can either focus on a few user stories or many users, which can contain many tasks.

Step2: Create an agile group.

A group of Agile team can be formed, defining the number of tasks that a member can complete in a sprint to define the capacity of the group.

Step 3: Create a release.

Create a release which has a start date and an end date, in which the development iterations will be completed.

Step 4: Create a personalised background.

It can be created by defining the filter criteria. It can be a combination of stories, incidents, defects, etc.

Step 5: Create a sprint.

It is the time frame within which a development team delivers one or more stories. A release can have multiple sprints. A team is expected to complete all the assigned stories within a sprint.

Step 6: Planning the sprint. 

Before starting a sprint, decide on the stories from the backlog that can be committed to complete within a sprint. Stories to be worked on in a sprint should be selected on the basis of priorities.,

Step 7: Track the progress of a sprint.

Team members should update their tasks and story records on a daily basis to communicate regarding their progress.

Step 8: Track the progress of the release.

This is done to make sure that the team is completing stories and is on track to achieve the goal.

Characteristics of Agile:

The process of Agile Software Development involves cross-functional teams working concurrently on various phases like planning, designing, requirement analysis, etc. A working model becomes available at the end of each iteration. The following are the salient characteristics of Agile:

  • Small sized, co-located,  self-organized teams work together in cross-functional ways to deliver business value.
  • Management supports redistributed decision making.
  • Face-to-face iteration replaces temporary documentation.
  • The process supports full transparency, inculcating trust.
  • Makes improvement in a continuous process, making it a part of the culture of the company.
  • Short loops of feedback help in delivering high quality of products.
  • Functions in small, cross-functional teams, which has proven to be more productive than larger teams.
  • The process of continuous testing measures the progress as well as prevents defects.
  • The transition of the project from one phase to another is smoother as the team has a proper, balanced distribution of tasks.
  • All members act as leaders in the project as they lead and take responsibility in their respective project phases. A project is not complete if one member does not do their part.

Working with Agile in a distributed team environment

Working with Agile in a distributed team environment

For a team working together, communicating in person is more sought after than being distributed over multiple locations. It is recommended to co-locate your team, but many times teams are unable to do so for critical business reasons. There’s more to the challenges faced by the distributed software team:

  • Coordinating across different time zones.
  • Building a good rapport when everyone is not present in the same office
  • Collaborating with different development cultures.
  • Scheduling meetings when both teams are online for a short period of time.

Under such situations, teams need to learn to follow Agile principles and practices in a distributed environment. This section discusses this in detail.

Additional Communication responsibilities:

Each team member needs to put in extra effort when working with remote team members and communicating with them, emphasizing more on the importance of being available and open.

Dedication:

All team members should be committed and dedicated to making Agile work in a distributed environment. The management must support the processes and tools required to do so.

Even Distribution of Work:

All team members should have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, along with an equal distribution of work. If there is an imbalance in the workload and it is being ignored, then it might risk the schedule of the project delivery.   

Pair Programming:

In pair programming, two members of the team sit side by side and work on the same code. It is a challenging task for distributed teams. This can be replaced by a virtual experience, like having a video-conferencing as a solution.

Understand the Time Difference:

Teams face a lot of communication problems if their team members work in different time zones. You can help your team across the world by making them aware of the different time zones in which the team members are working. Using a  physical map with pushpins depicting how the team is distributed, is an example for the same.

Use the right tools and training:

Identify the tools that will help your team. Get consents from your team members and see if the tool will be helpful for the team or not for that project. Most importantly, train your team on the tools. Don’t expect the team members to know about the new tools and how to use them without any practice.  Train them for the same.

With many organizations going global, distributed teams are becoming a common culture to work in. Agile, along with additional efforts by the team, will work well with the distributed teams.

Different Agile Frameworks Agile Frameworks

There are various methods and frameworks that are used by businesses and organizations in the world of development and manufacturing. To name a few:

  • Extreme Programming(EX)
  • Scrum
  • Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method(DSDM)
  • Crystal Methodology
  • Kanban Method (Lean or Agile)
  • Pragmatic Programming
  • Lean Development
  • Unified Process
  • Rational Unified Process

Scrum at a glance

Scrum is a framework which is used by teams to help them manage their work. It implements Agile principles as a set of artifacts, roles, and practices.

Scrum at a glance

Scrum Roles:

 Scrum has specified three important roles, namely Product Owner, Scrum Master, Scrum Team.

Product Owner:

A Product Owner holds the responsibility for the product that the team is building and why they are building it. Moreover, he is responsible for keeping the backlog up-to-date and in the order of the priority.

Scrum Master:

He holds the responsibility to ensure that the team is following the scrum process. They are in the continuous look out for the team’s improvement, while at the same time work on resolving the backlog issues that arise during the sprint.  

Scrum Team: 

The individuals who comprise the team with the responsibility of building the product. They are the engineer of the product and its quality.

Scrum Events: 

Scrum events are used in order to create regularity. All the events are time-boxed, that is it cannot exceed the fixed maximum duration. The elements of Scrum Events are Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum Meetings, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Sprint: 

A product incremental is developed in a Sprint. It is usually of a duration of one month or less. The main motive is to provide a pattern to work for the team and the business.

Sprint Planning: 

The work to be performed in a Sprint is discussed and planned in a Sprint Planning meeting.

Daily Scrum Meetings:

It is a 15-minute meeting held for the team which is conducted on a daily basis. The main motive is to understand the work done since the previously held scrum meeting and to create a plan for the day. It is often referred to as the Daily Stand-up Meeting.

Sprint Review

A Sprint Review is held at the end of every Sprint. The team sits along with the stakeholders to discuss what was done in the Sprint. The main objective of this meeting is to obtain feedback for further progress.

Sprint Retrospective: 

It occurs after a Sprint Review and prior to the next sprint planning. The main goal is to introspect and improve in order to make the next Sprint even more effective.

Scrum Artifacts

It is like a logbook which provides the Scrum team and the stakeholders with the information that they need to be aware of, like the understanding of the project under development, the activities done and being planned in the project. The Scrum Artifacts are Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment.

Product Backlog

It is a prioritized list of values that a team can deliver made available by the Product Owner to the Scrum Team. The Product Owner adds, changes and re-prioritizes the product backlog as needed.

Sprint Backlog:

It is the list of items that a team plans to deliver in the sprint. The sprint starts when all the members of the team agree that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.

Product Increment: 

This is the most important Scrum Artifact. The product of a Sprint can be known as an Incremental if the produces product is potentially shippable. It should meet all of the quality criteria that are set by the Product Owner and the team.  

What is Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®?

Scaled Agile Framework provides a simple, lightweight experience for the software developing team, where they can apply lean-agile practices at the enterprise level. It can handle the needs of large value streams and complex system developments, despite being simple and light in weight. Its framework is divided into three segments: Team, Program, and Portfolio.

SAFe® allow teams to do the following:

  • Implement Lean-Agile software at an enterprise level
  • It is based on the principles of  Lean and Agile
  • It is designed to meet the needs of all stakeholders within an organization.

DevOps Vs AgileDevOps Vs. Agile

Using Agile and DevOps are considered to be the best approach for bringing change within a team or an organisation. One of the most common questions that come across people’s mind is how are Agile and DevOps related to each other. In this regard, it must be noted that DevOps did not emerge as a response to Agile; rather these two are discrete approaches. DevOps slowly grew as a means to plug the communication gap in Agile development.

Let's have a look at what this actually means and how Agile and DevOps are related.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a culture which promotes collaboration between the Development and Operation Team. It helps in deploying code to production in a faster and automated way., increasing the organization’s speed to deliver applications and services.

Difference between Agile and DevOps.

AgileProject Trait or FactoDevOps
It is an iterative approach that focuses on the collaboration, customer feedback and small releases of the product.DefinitionIt is an approach that brings together the practice of development and operations team.
It focuses on constant changes.TaskFocuses on constant testing and delivery.
Manages complex projects.PurposeManages end-to-end engineering processes.
Provided by the customers.FeedbackProvided by the internal team.
Agile doesn’t emphasize on automation.AutomationDevOps primary goal is Automation.
Can be implemented with a range of frameworks like sprint, safe and scrum.ImplementationDoesn’t have any commonly accepted framework. Its primary goal is focusing on collaboration.
Smaller the team, even a few people will work on the project, meaning they can move faster.Team SizeThey have a relatively larger team size as it involves stack-holders.
Emphasizes on getting all of its members trained so that they can be familiar with the skills.Skill SetDevelopment and operation teams divide and spread the skill sets between themselves.
Agile targets Software DevelopmentScopeDevOps targets end-to-end business solution and faster delivery
Software DevelopingImportanceDeveloping, testing and implementation all are important.

Application of Agile outside Software

The end result after an agile application is a product or a project that will meet best with the customer needs, while at the same time deliver it with minimal cost and time, enabling organisations to attain results earlier as compared to the results obtained via the traditional approaches.

The roots of Agile Software Developments are lean, agile manufacturing and organizational learning. Looking at these roots, one can realise that they did not originate in the world of software. Many practices of Agile like Stand-up meetings, prioritization, and visual management originated outside software.

These techniques are applied in the development sector of non-software products as well, such as computers, medical devices, computers, food, clothing, etc. Principles of Agile Software Development have found applications in general management platforms, like finance, governance, risk, etc.

Common Myths about Agile

Common Myths about Agile

Myths and misunderstandings are common to spread over any method or framework. With time, it becomes a belief and people start to accept it as common knowledge. Read along to know some of the most common myths that have been growing around Agile.

Implementation of Agile is easy:

Teams should not just learn the best practices of Agile, but should also be able to judge if the selected project is the right fit for agile. They should evaluate if the organization can adopt the values and principles of agile. It is very important for the organisation to invest the time, effort and resources to institute and establish the expectations, culture, and infrastructure to hold up the implementation of Agile methodology. Practice and commitment are very much required as well.

Agile Practice is New:

Agile has been in practice since the greater part of the last century. The frameworks which are now collectively known as Agile mostly evolved during the late 1980s and 1990s. Hence, many people are familiar with Agile.  

Reading is enough to know about Agile:

Reading a book to understand Agile is not enough. It is a good idea to read a book to get a good understanding, but it cannot replace practical experience, which is very important to enable an agile mindset and to transform an organisation to become agile.

Agile doesn't need any planning:

Planning is very vital with any approach, that is if not carried out properly, it will diminish the effectiveness of performance. Although, Agile plans the activities more evenly throughout the project life cycle. Planning starts right from the beginning of an agile project and is continuously iterated throughout the project as new information is gained. Working in this manner makes the project team more effective and help them adapt to changes in an easier way.

Agile is not the same as anarchy:

Managers feel that self-organisation is identical to anarchy and hence, fear losing control over their agile team. Dues to Agile, the role of management may change but managers play an integral role in their company. They have the responsibility to define visions and goals, as well as help the team to gain full potential.

Agile gives prompt results: 

Agile transformations always go through a learning curve, but they mostly deliver huge benefits. The delivered results might go downwards before it changes to going upwards in the process before it begins to enhance its delivery capabilities.

Agile is possible only with small projects:

Agile development is composed of small groups, who are cross-functional and collaborative throughout the process of development. This motion is equally effective for larger projects as multiple teams can be formed where they can focus on separate components.

Agile is applicable only for software deliveries:

The Agile manifesto describes agile in the context of software delivery. But Agile can be used in businesses which are not software-related as Agile is suitable for any dynamic business which experiences variability.

Agile Transformation vs. Agile Adoption 

A strong majority of organizations are already defaulting to Agile. But there is one common barrier. The lack of understanding of the differences between Agile transformation and Agile adoption. A clear perception of these differences is necessary to realize which is the best fit for your team or organization ー Agile Adoption or Agile Transformation.

Agile Adoption: 

The word Adoption is used to describe the action of taking up or putting something into action or effect. Similarly, Agile Adoption can be referred to as the act of “doing Agile”.

Agile adoption makes the process of software development simpler, faster and better.

Agile Transformation: 

Agile Transformation refers to the process of converting a business or an organisation from its previously followed methods to ‘Agile’ methods, which will help them in continuous delivery of software in a fluid manner. The process involves a change in the mindset of all the people working in the organisation, which might not be acceptable by all.

An effective Agile transformation is usually seen to happen in three stages-

  • Organizational transformation: This entails setting up teams, defining processes, and finally, deciding how the teams will work in close collaboration.
  • Workflow transformation: This is intended to establish a culture of “self-organization” and empower team members to effectively carry out Agile-specific ceremonies and activities.
  • Personal transformation: This phase aims at developing a collective “Agile mindset” which fosters continuous improvement and enables team members to deliver continuous value.  
Agile AdoptionFactorAgile Transformation
Agile adoptions are fast. Can be measured in days or weeks.Speed of ChangeAgile Transformations take a long time. Can be measured in years.
Short TermPlanning TimeframeLong Term
Agile Adoption has a very rare impact.Impact on the Structure of the organization.Directly impacts the power and controls in an organisation.
The team and the stakeholders might feel that has changed to become more self-organized.Change in Culture.It has a widespread impact as the whole culture is being transformed.

Agile will make all the difference 

The future is ripe with endless possibilities for Agile, and companies across the globe are already realizing it.

Various organizations around the globe are now adopting different approaches to software development according to their needs and demands.

Agile has got a promising future in particular for the teams making the best use of it.

In the long haul, the same teams will help their organisations by delivering products at less cost. With AI and big data becoming a core part of decision making, data-driven Agile will soon become a major focus.

On a closing note, Agile and its practice do not commit to resolving each and every problem faced by an organization. But they do guarantee to establish an environment which will help them solve problems through learning, continual planning, and collaboration.

The motto remains the same: to deliver a high-quality product in a shorter period of time.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

Author

KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to improve quality of work life—State of Scrum 2017-2018 We have all heard companies who have adopted Scrum wax eloquent about its advantages and the benefits it brings in to business. Scrum has been adopted because it is supposed to be simple and promotes collaboration and communication. Yet, more organizations attempting the Agile/Scrum transformation often fail and end up abandoning their transformation or get stuck in a limbo. So, is the golden statement that ‘Scrum is lightweight, simple to understand, difficult to master’ true? 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Aiding the Product Owner in issues that they may face with regards to the project, stakeholders or the team will create a positive environment and will make things between the team and the product owner smoother.   Focus on the Challenges: Every Scrum project comes with its set of issues. But an effective Scrum Master will be aware of every challenge or impediment that comes in the way of the development team and takes these problems head on. Focusing on these challenges early on and resolving them is paramount to the success and progress of the team and the project. Appreciation for Achievements:  The focus of daily sprints and retrospectives is often to celebrate achievements and give the development team proper appreciation. A Scrum Master encourages and motivates and this they also do by respective current achievements. While giving advise on how things should be done is necessary, appreciating the team on its achievements is equally important.   Respect for Others: Your team members all have different personalities and each brings their own uniqueness and expertise to the team. No one team member is less or more important than the other. An effective and efficient Scrum Master will recognise this early on and treat every team member with the same amount of respect.  Understanding of Situations in the Right Context:  Not all things are as what they appear. The sooner a scrum master understands this, the better. Situations in context to teams, individuals and even the organization are not always black and white and the Scrum Master must consider the baggage of organizational culture, current systems, internal politics, etc before coming to a conclusion about a team or a team members. Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Di...

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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servan...

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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More

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