Agile Software Development: The 6 Most FAQ Answered
Agile software development isn't as confusing as it sounds, and we'll prove it! Here are the 6 most FAQ about agile, starting with "What does agile mean?"
If you look at the most common problems with project management, you could boil most of them down to "poor communication". While success is a combination of talent and communication, if you learn what Agile means, you get an understanding of how to balance the two. While many companies think they're using Agile, they're not actually doing anything of the sort.
Here are six questions that people have about working with Agile and how their answers help to make your team more productive.
1. So What Is Agile Anyway?
Agile is a method for helping teams get work done. While it's applicable to any kind of industry, it's most often used in software development. When you need to ensure that projects always meet deadlines, agile methodology is the way to do it.
It's a framework for behavior that allows people to get work done when customers need and to ensure quality at all levels. By breaking up tasks into ways that allow teams to collaborate instead of breaking up teams by their specialty, work gets done faster and more efficiently.
2. Is it Anything Like Waterfall?
Traditional project management is called "waterfall" methodology. It means that, more or less, each phase is completed before the next phase begins.
In Agile, people are encouraged to work on everything at the same time. When you use Agile, you agree to link everything up together at a later date.
Waterfall requires that everyone wait until the last piece is in place before you start plugging things in. Agile lets people who work faster, or whoever has the opportunity, to create the plugs between different parts in advance. This way, when more complicated elements like the backend are finished, the front end will have created the connectors already.
Short and frequent feedback loops are the way that Agile teams work. They take in changes and adjust requirements as needed during the process of building. With Waterfall, typically you wait until the whole project is over before you make significant changes, which are discouraged in general with Waterfall.
3. What Is a Scrum Master?
Some of the terminology in the world of Agile and these types of software development aren't found in other industries. Two such terms are "Scrum" and it's required "Scrum Master".
There are now certifications for Scrum Masters out there. While they're not totally required, they show certain expertise to some people. However, most people who have worked on agile teams or with Scrum know that having a certification isn't a prerequisite.
The most important piece is that one has experience with change management and the effort required to instill the values and principles of Agile and Scrum as part of the Agile Transformation in a given business environment.
4. What Does Scrum Entail?
Scrum has three main roles that ensure quality software development and delivery. You have your Product Owner, who owns the voice of the customer and the Product Backlog, a list of prioritized work that needs to be done to meet market demands and ensure product success. You have your Delivery Team that works to ensure the product is completed on time. And there's also the Scrum Master, who is the "champion of the process", making sure that operationally things are done in an agile and efficient way, ensuring Agile Scrum values and principles of empowerment, collaboration and Customer Value are alive. The Scrum Master can be dedicated to a Scrum team or span multiple teams depending on teams maturity and scope.
The roles on your team, generally speaking, should be cross-functional so that you have lots of flexibility. If you want your team to reach ideal productivity, don't have them working on multiple projects or at least don't give them the same role on multiple projects.
Every team should have access to designers, testers, and every other element that makes for a good software product. Some companies are small and economical, especially startups, so people tend to share these roles or shift them over time. However, the main thing to remember is that everyone should have a role to help contribute to a project and be responsible for that role.
5. Should We Have a Daily Stand-Up?
In a word, yes. It's vital to get your team together every day for more than 2 minutes and less than 15. If you ensure that your team gets the chance to stand around and communicate about what's going on, you ensure that everyone knows the breakdown.
Over time, you also get to find out each others' strengths and weaknesses. If someone is stuck on a particular element or a piece of the puzzle, the workload can shift around. People who are ahead of schedule should feel compelled to reach out and help the people who need it.
Every morning, the whole team should get together to talk about what they did the day before and what they're planning to do today. If there are roadblocks, they should bring them up and ask for help.
It's the responsibility of the scrum master to ensure that as each sprint is completed, everyone is up to their goal.
6. What Are Sprints?
The role of your product owner is to take the whole project and break it down into manageable chunks. Most commonly, projects are broken down on a week by week basis to ensure that everyone can see immediate and achievable goals.
The delivery team looks at the tasks ahead and then chooses how the work will break down for the next sprint. If there's a two-week span of building and testing a database, you'll have the first sprint marked with "database week one" and the next as "database week two".
When you break down work like this, it's easier for everyone to know what everyone else is up to. Nothing high priority gets left behind and everyone stays up to date.
Agile is all about adapting to change. It was formed on the principle that business drivers will change and the development teams must be ready to adapt.
Still wondering what does Agile mean for you?
If you're still wondering "what does Agile mean for a team like mine", then you might need to just start using it. Once you start implementing a project management solution as robust and powerful as Agile, you'll realize just what you've been missing.
P.S. Check out our Scrum Kickstart Package to get things rolling for your team.