Agile Data Science: Principles, Methodologies, Process

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10th Jan, 2023
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Agile Data Science: Principles, Methodologies, Process

Agile is a software development technique that facilitates software construction through incremental sessions with minimal cycles so that the development is in line with the changing demands of the company. Agile Data science combines agile technique with data science.  

Agile Data Science's course objective is to help newcomers to big data and aspiring data scientists develop into valuable team members in data science and agile in data analytics, which may be accomplished through Data Science Training

This article describes Agile data management, Agile data science concepts, and methodology, as well as other relevant elements. Let's get started on the subject. 

What is Agile Data Science?

The agile process is an iterative approach to software development & project management that help teams deliver value to the customers. It is a style of Software Development Lifecycle that most companies use for Data Science development projects. Agile Data Science is a data science strategy focusing on online application development. It claims that the web application is the most effective data science process output for achieving change in a company. It contends that application development is a core data scientist skill.  

Designers who supply functional CSS are examples of effective Agile Data Science team members. Numerous aspirants to the placement of data scientist are certified in Data Science Bootcamp With Job Placement at prestigious companies. 

Why Agile for Data Science?

Data science has to be agile, with agility being defined as the ability to offer actionable insights quickly, iterate on such insights, and validate the results. Agile Data Science is a programming process that deals with the unpredictability of generating analytics platforms from data at scale. Many reputable firms are in need of skilled data scientists who can implement agile approaches in their projects; KnowledgeHut's Data Science training is the solution for such hopefuls. 

Agile Data Science Principles

Agile Data Science is structured according to the following principles: 

  • Continuous Iteration  
  • Intermediate Output  
  • Prototype Experiments  
  • Integration of data  
  • Pyramid data value 

1. Continuous Iteration

Continuous iteration is the process that involves charting, reporting, tabling, and predictions. In a recurring process of extracting insights from queries for the purpose of developing business models, the first query may not yield insights, but the 25th inquiry may. In the iteration process of understanding data tables to draw insights, they must be processed, structured, sorted, aggregated, and summarized. Insightful charts are usually the result of the third or fourth try, not the first. Creating reliable prediction models might take several cycles of feature engineering and hyperparameter optimization. Iteration is critical in data science for the extraction, visualization, and productization of insight. We iterate when we construct. 

This technique entails iteratively creating tables, charts, reports, and forecasts. Many cycles of feature engineering with insight extraction and production will be required to build predictive models. 

2. Intermediate Output

This is the output track list. It is even claimed that unsuccessful experiments produce results. Tracking the outcome of each iteration will aid in the creation of better output in the following iteration. 

Since iteration is a crucial step in creating analytics apps, we frequently conclude a sprint with incomplete work. We would frequently wind up releasing nothing if we didn't deliver partial or intermediate output at the conclusion of a sprint. The "death loop," as I like to refer to it, is where unlimited effort may be wasted creating something that no one wants and that isn't agile. 

3. Prototype Experiments

Prototype experiments entail giving tasks and producing results based on the experiments. To acquire knowledge in any given task, we must iterate, and these iterations are best characterized as experiments. Overseeing several concurrent studies is more important than assigning responsibilities when managing a data science team. Because good assets emerge as products of exploratory data analysis, we must consider experiments rather than tasks.  

4. Integration of data

Both the planned and the possible are equally essential. What is simple and difficult to understand is just as vital as what is sought. There are three viewpoints to consider in software application development: those of the clients, the developers, and the company. There is another viewpoint in analytics application development: that of the data. The product owner cannot perform a decent job until he or she understands what the data "has to say" about any feature. The data's point of view must always be included in product talks. 

5. Pyramid data value

The levels required for "Agile data science" development were outlined in the above pyramid value. It begins with a collection of records depending on the needs and individual plumbing records. The charts are made once the data has been cleaned and aggregated. Data visualization may be done using the aggregated data. Reports are created with the necessary data format, metadata, and tags. Prediction analysis is included in the second tier of the pyramid from the top. The prediction layer creates additional value but aids in the creation of excellent forecasts that focus on feature engineering. 

Agile Data Science Methodologies

The following are the top three Agile data science methodologies: 

1. Scrum

Scrum is the process that is the most popular agile methodology for data science projects. It is a tried-and-true approach created in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A deliverable product should be available at the end of each sprint under the Scrum methodology. The most frequent sprint length is two weeks. However other lengths are possible. Teams entirely organize themselves; they choose what they'll do and how they'll accomplish it during the next sprint. The product log contains a list of tasks that are all organized such that it is evident how each one will improve the product. 

2. Kanban

It is a fairly basic set of concepts that works well in many situations, including data science. In comparison to Scrum, Kanban is far less process heavy. Unlike Scrum, it does not operate in set time increments but instead strives for continuous flow. User stories are used to express tasks, exactly like in Scrum, but only one story at a time is committed to. Stories are accumulated in a backlog and are constantly prioritized. 

3. Data-driven scrum

Specifically designed for projects including data science, Data-Driven Scrum is a new agile collaborative approach. From a data science standpoint, it aims to integrate the finest aspects of scrum and Kanban. The framework is the newest one, therefore its usefulness is still up for debate.

Agile Data Science Process Integrates the Following Practices

1. Frame the Business Objectives

The first stage in the data science life cycle is to understand and frame the business objectives. This framework will assist you in developing a successful model that will benefit your firm. 

2. Explore and Transform Data

Data scientists investigate and modify data in different manners to generate and publish new features. After gathering substantial amount of structured, high-quality data, you may begin an exploratory data analysis. Efficient Exploratory Data Analysis enables you to discover significant insights that will be beneficial in the next stage of the data science lifecycle. 

3. Ensemble Modeling Techniques

Using a variety of modeling techniques or training data sets, ensemble modeling is the process of building numerous varied models to predict a result. The ensemble model then combines each base model's forecast, yielding a single final prediction for the unseen data. Ensemble modeling approaches are used in the majority of actual data mining solutions. 

4. Model Validation

This is where the true magic happens. Before beginning to model the data, it is critical to minimize the dataset's dimensionality. In this stage, your team completes datasets and creates business models and logic that will be used throughout the organization. 

5. Production Deployment

You’ll conclude your project by creating a summary report and presentation. Afterward, plan to review the entire process to determine what worked and what needs improvement.

Benefits of Agile Data Science

Following are the key benefits of Agile data science: 

1. Enhanced Client Satisfaction

Because this methodology stresses continuous cooperation here between project team and stakeholders, agile teams may collect timely feedback from consumers at each level of the development process and take action promptly following review meetings. 

2. Delivery & Continuous Improvement

Agile is designed to support continuous improvement and delivery. In other words, it continuously improves the quality of your program while guaranteeing that it will be delivered on time. When implementing agile software development methodologies, one of the essential advantages that will lead to further benefits. 

3. Better Communication

Agile emphasizes individuals, teamwork, and straightforward communication. As data science teams grow in size and diversity, the need for good communication grows both inside the team and with stakeholders. 

4. Reduces loss by giving prior intimation of failure

Some data science initiatives don't succeed, no matter what you try. Your ability to pivot to related goals or abandon the project depends on how quickly you notice that you're doomed to failure.

How the Data Science Process Aligns with Agile

Agile approaches are compatible with data science for a variety of reasons. Let's see how it lines up: 

1. Prioritization and Planning

This guarantees that sprints and tasks are matched with the goals of the organization, enabling stakeholders to contribute their opinions and knowledge, and allows for fast iterations and feedback. 

2. Clearly defined tasks with timelines

The market moves quickly and doesn't wait, so this keeps the data science team busy, on schedule, and ready to deliver on the promised timescales. 

3. Retrospectives and Experiments

Through input and insight into problem areas that need to be addressed, assessments help the team get better with each sprint. Templates enable the group to learn and provide feedback to one another. Demos offer a glimpse of what the data science team is focusing on, especially if stakeholders are participating.

How to Create Agile Data Science Projects

The steps required to establish Agile data science are outlined below: 

  1. Use Work item types such as Features, User Stories, Tasks, and Bugs. 
  2. Sprint planning 
  3. Include a Feature in the backlog 
  4. Include a User Story in the Feature 
  5. Create a Task for a User Story 
  6. Make use of an agile TDSP work template 
  7. Create a template for the Agile Data Science Process. 
  8. Make work items for the Agile Data Science Process. 

Best Agile Practices to Your Data Science Process

Let's go over the basic Agile working principles i.e., scrum framework and how they apply to the data science agile process. 

1. Establish the project's goal and the business necessity

This is usually motivated by the product owner, who is accountable for the features and quality of the product. This is the fundamental idea you will keep returning to as you construct, even if it concerns the broader picture. The end user, the client, the company, or the product owner are all potential product owners in data science. Understand the product owner's concerns and adjust the proposed project to their requirements. 

2. Sprint

The real development work is carried out during a sprint. Sprints are typically two-week periods in which high-priority activities from the backlog are completed. Depending on the size of the squad, each sprint in Data Science might last two to four weeks. During the sprint, always finish the most important duty first before moving on to the next in line. 

3. Building the backlog

A list of activities is produced based on the customer requirements ("user stories" in Agile) to construct the product features or enhance the product performance. The Data Science team collaborates with the product owner to define feature objectives and performance targets. The delay might begin with having the data formatted before it can be analyzed. The list might then be used to choose features, engineer features, or choose, tweak, and optimize models. 

4. Make the backlog a priority

Determine which backlog jobs will provide the most benefit with the least amount of work. In Data Science, not every technique is worth pursuing, therefore prioritize the most promising ones. When the key ones are communicated, you may discover that the other ones are not as critical as you first believed. 

5. Examine the sprint results

The project team should be able to show off a usable output with a small enhancement in the final product after two weeks. Before attempting to refine the methods, data scientists should discuss the results. Obtain input from client stakeholders, then get ready for the following sprint. The Agile method of gradual iterative improvement emphasizes the importance of regular feedback. 

6. Distribute the finished product

The product is prepared for final deployment when all parties agree that no more changes need to be made to it. The "law of diminishing improvement" governs Data Science programs.

Agile Data Science Challenges

  1. A distinct method is required for isolating viability risks: To systematically identify viability concerns through testing, data scientists receive special training. Unfortunately, data science studies are very unpredictable, especially when it comes to applications of machine learning that use the latest methodologies. 
  2. Absence of frameworks tailored to data science: The widely used agile frameworks are either software-specific or emerge from software environments. Such techniques may stifle the exploratory aspect of data research.
  3. This technological risk in data science is underappreciated by many product teams: The majority of software developers have never faced this degree of technical risk. In especially for new software products, the largest risk in software development is creating something that no one wants. Unfortunately, the majority of product teams are unaware of their own lack of knowledge in machine learning and data science.
  4. Taking a longer time frame: Agile techniques place a premium on delivering functioning products as soon as possible. In fact, Scrum asks for possibly releasable increments in pre-established cadences that do not last more than a month. However, data science research frequently necessitates longer timeframes that are difficult to predict in advance. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Approach in Data Science

AdvantagesDis Advantages
Continuous improvement and deliveryBeing very skilled or organized in Scrum
Enhanced client satisfactionThe needs and the scope are prone to rapid change.
Enhanced communicationIt is harder to quantify data science activities since they are less well-defined.
Higher quality deliverables with easy shippableData Science sprints, like engineering sprints, are expected to provide deliverables.
Planning a good sprint is prioritizedThe developer role may not be well defined

Examples of Agile Data Science

Following are the examples of Agile data science: 

  1. Scrum 
  2. Extreme Programming (XP) 
  3. Kanban 
  4. Lean Planning or development 
  5. Crystal 
  6. Future driven development 

Top Tips for Agile for Data Science Teams

1. Appoint Fully operational Teams

Staff the agile for data science teams with all of the necessary skill sets. This often involves data engineers, data scientists, business analysts, and a product person. 

2. Allow the team to handle themselves

The team's operation should not be dictated by upper-level management. Rather, they should give guidance and an atmosphere where they may thrive. Encourage and rely on the team's ability to self-organize. The team should keep a steady pace, check its procedures periodically, and strive for continuous improvement. 

3. Begin simple with basics and perform quickly

Insights are the major product of data science teams. Initial ideas might come from static reporting or data exploration analysis. Then go to interactive dashboards, MVMs, and finally, completely productized intelligent systems. Look for ways to give little vertical slices of end-to-end capability to accomplish this. 

4. Progress measurement

Measuring progress is essential for determining project and software development progress. Request feedback often, both from the data itself and from stakeholders (via demos). 

5. Work collaboratively

The days of the data scientist working alone and cowering in a corner are long gone. Data science, on the other hand, is a team sport. Agile data science teams work together and speak with other members of the larger stakeholder team often. 

6. Make ideas that are adaptable

Data science and Agile both place a strong emphasis on empirical learning, which involves deploying something, measuring it, learning from it, and then making appropriate adjustments to your plans. 

7. Evaluate the entire Procedure literally

Agile thinking is only half of the puzzle. An efficient data science approach prioritizes Agility as well as the data science life cycle. 

Conclusion

After going through some of the pros and downsides, maybe you'll better understand how you can apply agile to data science and the possible problems. Although certain hurdles, agile and data science complement each other effectively; otherwise, many firms would not have implemented it in their data science project teams. 

Profile

Satish T

Author

Satish T writes on project management and the many approaches used in projects across different sectors. He honed his fundamental writing talents in article production after discovering that the creation of content is essential when describing any product. Satish's areas of interest are fact-finding research, Search Engine Optimization, and skill development.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How do you define good tasks in the context of agile data science?

The good tasks in agile data science workflow can be defined in the following ways: 

2At the outset of each sprint, plan and prioritize your tasks
  1. Tasks must be clearly defined, with deliverables and dates. 
  2. At the end of each sprint, there are retrospectives and demos. 
  3. Is the agile approach applicable in data science projects? h3
  4. Agile concepts and ideals could be used to approach data science projects.
3What is the distinction between agile and scrum?

Scrum is a unique Agile approach used to support a project. Agile is a project management approach that employs a core set of ideals or principles.