Agile software development is an iterative approach to software development that emphasizes the delivery of working software and the collaboration between team members. Let’s take a look at the philosophies, principles, practices, and tools that teams can use to implement Agile methodologies in their software development projects.
- Is aimed at executing tasks faster, adapting to changes easier
- Makes the developing process flexible
- Was initially designed for Software Development, then expanded to Marketing, and is currently applied in other areas
- Action loop: product backlog – sprint backlog – iteration (sprints) – potentially shippable result
- Method for demonstrating progress — definition of ‘done’
- Methodologies: Scrum, XP, FDD, DSDM, Crystal Methods etc.
- Toolkit: sprints, boards, Scrum Master, acceptance tests, user story mapping etc.
Principles of Agile Software Development:
- Customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
- Embracing change to deliver working software frequently
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Collaboration between customers and developers is essential
- Focus on individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Continuous integration: integrating code changes frequently and continuously to avoid integration issues later in the development cycle.
- Test-driven development: writing tests before writing the actual code to ensure the code is functional and meets the requirements.
- Pair programming: two developers working together on the same code, improving code quality and increasing knowledge sharing.
Tools for Agile Software Development
- Project management tools such as Jira, Trello, or Asana to manage tasks, track progress and collaborate with team members.
- Version control systems such as Git or SVN to manage code changes and enable collaboration.
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery tools such as Jenkins or Travis CI to automate testing and deployment processes.
- Communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams to facilitate communication and collaboration between team members.
There are several popular methodologies/frameworks used in agile software development, including Scrum, Kanban, and Lean. Each methodology has its own approach to managing the development process and achieving the goals of agile software development.
Scrum is a framework that focuses on small, self-organizing teams that work in short iterations, called sprints. Each sprint typically lasts between one and four weeks, during which the team works on a set of prioritized features or user stories. At the end of each sprint, the team delivers a potentially shippable product increment, which is reviewed by the stakeholders.
Kanban, on the other hand, is a visual system for managing the flow of work. It uses a board with columns that represent different stages of the development process, such as to-do, in progress, and done. Work items are represented by cards, and team members move the cards across the board as they work on them.
Lean is a methodology that focuses on reducing waste and improving efficiency. It emphasizes continuous improvement, value delivery, and respect for people. It includes several practices, such as value stream mapping, which helps identify and eliminate waste in the development process.
Let’s explore these methodologies in more detail:
- Product Owner: Responsible for managing the product backlog, prioritizing items, and ensuring that the team is building the right product.
- Scrum Master: Responsible for facilitating the scrum events, removing impediments, and coaching the team on Scrum best practices.
- Development Team: Responsible for developing and delivering the product increment.
- Sprint Planning: At the beginning of each sprint, the team collaborates to define the sprint goal and identify the work to be completed.
- Daily Scrum: A 15-minute meeting held every day, where the team discusses progress, identifies impediments, and plans for the day.
- Sprint Review: At the end of each sprint, the team presents the completed work to the stakeholders.
- Sprint Retrospective: A meeting held at the end of each sprint to reflect on the process and identify areas for improvement.
- Product Backlog: A prioritized list of features that the team is responsible for delivering.
- Sprint Backlog: A list of items that the team has committed to delivering during the sprint.
- Product Increment: A working and potentially shippable product at the end of each sprint.
When to Use the Scrum Framework
Scrum is best suited for teams that like to work following a regular rhythm and provides a nice balance of structure and predictability while still allowing for frequent adjustments based on user feedback. It is one of the most common methodologies in many large companies today.
Scrum is also ideal for software development agencies who build software for their clients. The frequent demos and check points that come with operating in sprints ensures that teams and clients are always on the same page.
- Kanban involves the following key practices:
- Visualize the work: The work is visualized on a Kanban board, with columns representing different stages of work, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”
- Limit work in progress: The number of items in each column is limited to avoid overburdening the team.
- Manage flow: The team focuses on optimizing the flow of work through the system.
- Make process policies explicit: The team clearly defines the process policies, such as the definition of done, to ensure that everyone is aligned.
- Implement feedback loops: The team regularly reviews the process and identifies areas for improvement.
When to Use the Kanban Framework
Kanban is ideal for organizations that want to incorporate the benefits of agile but are not willing to make very drastic changes to their workflow. It’s also suited for projects in which priorities change on the fly, and ad hoc tasks can happen anytime.
- Lean focuses on the following key principles:
- Value: The team focuses on delivering value to the customer.
- Value Stream: The team maps the value stream to identify and eliminate waste.
- Flow: The team optimizes the flow of work through the system.
- Pull: The team works in a pull system, where work is pulled based on customer demand.
- Continuous Improvement: The team continuously improves the process by identifying and eliminating waste.
When to Use the Lean Framework
Lean focuses on market validation and building a successful product which users will find useful. Lean is ideal for new product development teams or startups who are venturing into a relatively new niche, haven’t formulated a finished product, don’t have a huge budget, and need to validate their idea. It helps such teams build, fail, and deliver software faster and cheaper.
While this guide on agile software development and the Scrum, Kanban, and Lean frameworks of the agile software development methodology, aims to give you a comprehensive overview of each, you should understand that no one method is better than the other.
There is emphasis on the importance of delivering valuable software through continuous feedback, collaboration, and embracing change. By adopting Agile practices and using the right tools, teams can improve their software development processes and deliver high-quality software that meets customer requirements. However, each framework has its pros and cons, and sometimes they even complement one another. Most modern teams often use a combination of two, or even all three frameworks together. Discover what works for your team and flex the system accordingly.
We at AppleTech follow the agile methodology and have a well-defined, structured and streamlined SDLC for all our projects. Reach out to us to make the best possible custom solution for addressing your business or technological challenges.