This article aims to present an insight into Agile software methodology. What is Agile? What is Waterfall Method? What are the differences between Agile and Waterfall project management? What is Scrum methodology? Oh, and how does Spotify imply Agile methodology? Confused about all these terms? If yes, this post will give you the direct answers to your questions.
Regardless of the existing stereotype, the Agile Movement is not a methodology. Neither it’s a process. It’s a set of principles and values that allow you to organize your workflow, which requires as its primary foundation ability to be, literally, ‘agile,’ so there’s a need to think quickly in an intelligent way, as Cambridge Online Dictionary explains. Adaptability, improvement, development, flexibility to a constant change are an absolute basis. This overall mental effort lies in the workflow of each team that aims to obey the Agile rules. Therefore, innovation and creativity are required in each stage of iteration.
Having read a dictionary definition above and bearing in mind a general project management overview, it’s time to think what, precisely, Agile is, and what the benefits of implementation of that software development approach can be.
As a matter of fact, the Agile development is an alternative way of project management that stands in opposition to Waterfall Method, which is also described below. But now focus on assumptions of the Agile Manifesto that will help you understand the core rules of Agile software development. The document was written in February 2001 by 17 developers who met to draw the following conclusions regarding creating software:
– ‘Individuals and interactions over processes and tools’ – when your policy is contribution-friendly, every opinion of your co-workers may positively affect the whole production process, shedding new light on the current matters.
– ‘Working software over comprehensive documentation’ – of course, documents are important, but they cannot become your main focus in a project. If you try to reduce the amount of paperwork and keep it as minimal as you can, an emphasis on a working product will surely be in favor.
– ‘Customer collaboration over contract negotiation’ – the crucial word here is a collaboration; furthermore, not only employees have the power to change an ongoing project, but also the customers. The relationship in every personal field should rely on the partnership and always take into consideration the customers’ opinions, f.e. on the minimal viable product of freemium version. The importance of a customer service oriented company was covered in this article.
– ‘Responding to change over following a plan’ – Agile project management concentrates heavily on the aspect of change. Don’t let your business be dominated by the strict rules and procedures because it may negatively affect the execution of a certain product.
– “That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more” – the emphasis on giving value to the users is the core here.
17 different personalities and a multitude of their opinions; however, they agreed upon that a popular step-by-step methodology can be a good solution for companies like automobile branch, where step A has to be obligatory finished on time in order to move on to step B but it doesn’t successfully apply to software production. The criticism of waterfall methodology gave a solid foundation to ask themselves for something out-of-the-box that can be implied easily and, what matters the most, boost the effectiveness of production. The Agile rules are gathered under ‘12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto‘.
The traditional waterfall model or subsequent development requires creating a product in certain one-by-another phases. It’s non-iterated and the main principles of Waterfall Method are to produce software in particular clear phases that imply eight stages: conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, implementation and maintenance. The key to a success of the next phase is the completion of the previous one. A workflow is steady and predictable.
The Agile supports an incremental value in software production. At the beginning of Agile first phase, the design is not the most important problem to be solved. Small groups are formed to work on a clear set objective from one to four-week iterations. Agile software development should aim to be adaptive instead of predictive. The teams are cross-functional and work on different aspect of the software such as coding, planning or unit testing. At the end of each iteration, every team has to present its final product. The introduction of the new requirements, design, features is not a problem in the Agile approach. The solutions are tested, and the conclusions are drawn; therefore, a software can be quickly updated according to the clients’ suggestions. On the other hand, the waterfall development teams are given only one opportunity to work on each of eight stages. Once a certain phase is finished, the next has to become the main focus. The work progresses until the last step is finished.
Scrum is a subset of Agile that may be a foundation of an every project. It is a way how can workflow be organized to achieve certain goals. In Scrum approach, there is a Product Owner who stores all the ideas concerning the project in a backlog and chooses the most essential to be done shortly; the work which doesn’t demand an urgent activity is left for the further consideration. Then, the tasks from the backlog are shared with a particular group of people, and their responsibilities are split – this part is called ‘sprint planning.’ Tasks are distributed and a team works in, so called, ‘sprints,’ which is a period no longer than four weeks in which the whole team has to finish their duties. As a part of a Scrum routine, there are ‘the daily Scrum’ meetings at the beginning of the day, where the progress is discussed. When the ‘sprint’ reached the end, the final product should be ready to be potentially shipped. However, this is not the end of their work because the team has to prepare a ‘sprint review’ of the product. Finally, a ‘retrospective’ meeting is held where the sprint itself is discussed, obstacles and any situations that are worth examining because, if the appropriate conclusions are taken, a next sprint can be more effective to improve the overall work process and internal communication.
Spotify, a widely-recognisable digital music service, based their work culture on scaled Agile framework, which was described in detail in a separate blog post. The introduction of Spotify engineering culture turned out to be successful because it allowed separate teams to work independently on a detailed piece of software and improve it and gradually deliver music software that gradually is winning the crowd all over the world. Squads, Tribes, Chapters, Guilds are the fundament there; the brilliant scaling method was also implied by other companies that appreciated the tremendous potential that lies in the heart of this structure, and it was implied by one of the most reliable SEO audit tools available – OnPage.org.
OnPage.org is one of the best SEO software tools – it allows to manage your website and helps to improve the visibility in the search engines. In one of their blog posts they shared their story how they neglected the traditional approach in favor of introducing Agile principles; moreover, the Scrum project management is also in use. This study can give each company an inspiration how Agile values can be easily implemented and how their rules can help provide a better product and organizational structure. Not only the current matters are the subject of discussion, but regular meetings are performed – daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The Quarterly Strategic Update meeting allows each member to familiarize with the company’s goals for the next 12 months.
Which approach seems more convincing to you? Are you willing to obey the traditional rules practiced by millions or are you more likely to try to become agile? There’s no simple answer to this question as long as different people have a wide spectrum of priorities and motivations concerning their own business. No method is perfect for all companies but you need to make a decision. Share your story in a comment below and let us know which one, the Agile approach or waterfall methodology, works better for you!
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