What is Agile? As with many standard software development methods, why Agile stands out? We discussed the advantages and of course, some pitfalls that we encountered while applying Agile to our workflows.
The Anatomy of Agile Development Principles?
Agile development is a project management methodology that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools. The Agile Manifesto, created in 2001, describes the four core values and twelve principles of Agile development.
The four Agile values give you insight into what the method is based on:
- Individuals and interactions before processes and tools
- Working software instead of extensive documentation
- Collaborating with the customer instead of negotiating contracts
- Responding to change by following a plan
In other words, Agile development focuses on creating working software quickly, collaborating with customers frequently, and adapting to change quickly. This method is particularly suited for projects that are complex or have unclear requirements.
How Does Agile Development Work?
In the preparation stage, the product owner creates a backlog of features they want to include in the final product. This is known as the product backlog. Then, the development team estimates how long each feature will take to build.
2. Sprint planning
The sprint planning meeting is where the team decides which features from the product backlog they are going to work on during the sprint.
A sprint is a set period of time (usually two weeks) in which the development team must achieve a specific goal. The team also decides how many tasks of each type it can complete during the sprint.
For example, the team may decide that it can complete three coding tasks, two testing tasks, and one documentation task during the sprint. This information is then added to the Sprint Backlog.
During the sprint, the team works to complete the tasks in the sprint backlog. They may also encounter new issues that they need to address. If so, these issues are added to the Product Backlog and prioritized accordingly. At the end of the Sprint, the development team should have completed all the features in the Sprint Backlog.
If this is not the case, the team carries them over to the next sprint. The team then holds a sprint review meeting where they show off the completed features to the product owner and stakeholders. They also discuss what went well during the sprint and how they could improve the next sprint.
Finally, the team holds a retrospective where they reflect on what went well during the sprint and what did not go so well. They then create an action plan to address those issues in future sprints. This feedback loop helps ensure that each sprint is more successful than the last.
The Roles of Agile in Building Software Products
The main risk with a fixed-price project is to end up creating a software product that is actually not in line with the customers’ expectations. When you finally put it in the hands of a user and the user doesn’t see the value of it, you will probably try to pivot and adapt your software product now that you know what the user wants. However, your entire budget might already be gone. Therefore, there are some benefits of agile in contributing to software products, which can effectively reduce costs.
A ‘time and material’ approach
With a “time and material” approach, you won’t pay for a defined scope. Instead, you will simply pay regularly for the work that has been completed by a dedicated development team. This will give you the freedom of adapting your requirements along the way, and be as close as possible to your user needs, or any other evolution on the market. You should think about the shift from desktop to mobile, a new operating system emerging, or even the entrance of new players with a similar service on the market. All those things can quickly impact the expectations of your clients.
The guarantee to build something relevant, even if the world is facing major changes and challenges.
A view on the daily rates of the team members, and high-level planning based on what you need the most (MVP). This means you can predict your monthly expenses pretty easily, and even adapt your budget along the way by challenging the size of your team. Besides, you can be involved in each phase of the development, and have a clear report of the work done. Thus, you do not need to wait until the work is completed to give your opinion. In addition, R&D costs can easily be spread all over the project timeline since only a small number of details will be needed to kick off the project. So, you won’t need to invest tons of time and budget in deep up-front analysis.
An approach that fits the project size
Studies show that the smaller your project is, the better your project will succeed. Indeed, by having a smaller scope you limit the number of risks you are taking. When your project is large, think about splitting it into smaller units to avoid multiplying the risks. This way, if one module doesn’t work as expected, it won’t affect the rest of the project.
Splitting a software development project into smaller sub-projects, or modules, is a common practice as it offers several benefits: An overall improved organization, An increased focus, A better quality of delivery, and faster development.
In fact, working on smaller, focused, tasks can often be completed faster, as developers can work on several parts of the project simultaneously. This can help reduce the overall time-to-market for the project.
Overall, splitting a software development project into smaller sub-projects helps to make the development process more manageable, efficient, and effective. Therefore, this is leading to a better outcome for both the development team and the stakeholders.
Create features or value?
The question that should stick in your head while developing a new software product is “What is the value we are trying to create for our users”? What difference should it make on the market? Creating features just for the sake of it will only end up in complexifying a product that your user might love just as it is.
Creating value can be achieved in a number of ways, including making the product easier to use, faster, or more enjoyable. It can also be achieved by solving a problem or meeting a need that the user has in a more effective way.
No matter how you organize your work, user expectations should always be your priority. In any case, the time-material approach gives you the flexibility you need to focus on adding value and regularly testing your work in the marketplace. This way you can be sure that you invest your budget in what ignites in the eyes of your customers!
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