In recent years, as the focus of organizations has shifted to being more customer-centric by offering more responsive services and being more flexible, the adoption of Agile has also increased. Agile allows an organization to be more flexible, adaptive, customer focused and collaborative.
How does the Agile process help an organization achieve all this? In this blog we attempt to look at what is agile process and how organizations can start implementing the agile process.
Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches—Atlassian
Agile process management caters to the need of today, and that is to ensure fast delivery of products. The market is in a constant state of flux and the changing consumer preferences have pressured organizations to deliver fast and innovate. This is where Agile comes into the picture, as it is an iterative and incremental approach to product development.
This means that a project is broken down into smaller chunks and for every feature, all aspects—from development to testing—are carried out simultaneously so that release of features can be done in a staggered manner and the customer does not have to wait till the entire project is complete in order to have something workable at hand.
The key to long-term agile planning is keeping your project details and task estimates in sync with your roadmap--Atlassian
What do you do when you have a number of items to be completed in a certain period of time? Most of us make a list, starting with the topmost priority items and start picking up and completing the items on the list one by one. This is how Agile also works. The project is first broken down into smaller tasks and the tasks are sorted out in a list according to their priority.
The work to be carried out in each iteration or sprint is defined. These sprints or iterations are short, time boxed, fixed length events of two to three weeks at the end of which the team aims to deliver a set of tasks, such as a product feature or a release. The team is able to estimate how much time the project will take to complete based on the time taken to deliver the first couple of features of sprints.
The Agile Process generally follows these steps:
Once the team figures out what to build based on market research and consumer preference, and has got the necessary funding and permissions to start working on the project, the project is broken down into smaller tasks which are listed according to priority. In Agile Scrum, this task is carried out by the Product Owner who creates the prioritized list called the Product Backlog.
The Product Backlog is the single authoritative source that guides the team on what to build and in what priority. These items on the list are called user stories. In each iteration, the developers pick up a user story and try to complete it during the given time frame. The goal of every iteration is to deliver a workable release or product.
The cumulative result of all the iterations will be the final projected goal or product. The advantage of building products iteratively and incrementally is the quick feedback cycle. The customer can immediately start using the released product in every iteration and give feedback which the team can implement and improve the product.
In order to make the process of agile process management more efficient, several tools are available. These tools help to document and make all processes more transparent, and transparency and high visibility is one of the hallmarks of Agile projects.
The project lead is able to assign tasks efficiently and every team member can keep track of the things they need to complete and by when. These trackers are also visible and accessible to stakeholders and management who can see how the project is progressing and if the project is on time or lagging.
These tools also help with client onboarding, customer success, process improvement, workflow, business process management and more. They offer simple checklists and eliminate complex workflows. Checklists are customizable, easily trackable and accessible by all. Such tools improve collaboration and communication between team members.
“Agile software development is an umbrella term for a set of frameworks and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 Principles behind it.” –Agile Alliance.
Agile process management or Agile software development was created to get away from traditional project management systems. It differs from other traditional methods of software development as the focus is on people, teams and self-organization.
The teams in Agile processes are cross-functional and collaborative, and follow the practices and processes outlined in the Agile Manifesto. The Agile process is also a continuous process. Unlike traditional methods where all phases of development like analysis, requirements gathering, developing, testing, and releasing occur one after the other, in Agile all these processes happen almost simultaneously.
The iterative nature of Agile helps to start simply and slowly, and gradually make additions and improvements to the product. While in traditional methodology, the product is built in its entirety. The disadvantage of this method is that it will be too late to rollback, in case a defect is found in the later stages of development. Agile, on the other hand, with its ‘fail fast fail safe’ approach, helps teams to recover fast from failures and make improvements in the product or feature.
Another major advantage of agile, which also makes it different from a traditional working method is the flexibility it allows. A traditional method, being very rigid in its approach may end up with inflated costs and extended timelines if it tries to accommodate frequent changes in scope and customer requirements. Agile, on the other hand, being flexible, can better accommodate changes without much effect on cost and time.
Agile teams are also more fluid, with each team member being able to carry out blended activities as opposed to traditional methods where team members have specific roles and rarely go beyond the scope of their responsibilities.
Advantages of the Agile model include:
Statistics show that more and more organizations are now moving towards agile and realizing its benefits. The pandemic further accelerated this transition as the need of the hour is adaptability, flexibility and quick response times; all of which Agile provides. The Agile process is easy to implement if approached in the right way.