The agile methodology is widely adopted by many industries whose primary focus is to build products through a continuous cycle of small changes. Waterfall uses step by step techniques for product development while the agile practices bring flexibility with constant updates in the whole process.
According to a recent survey, 71% of organizations use agile methodologies for their operations. Another survey showed that agile projects are 28% more successful than any other traditional ones. This elaborates on how popular this technique is for development.
Agile is a parent term for many frameworks and practices that guide these frameworks. Some famous frameworks of agile include Scrum, Kanban, XP, and Lean.
What is Agile?
Agile is product development methodologies in which customer requirements and solutions evolve continuously through a repeated cycle of planning, participation, and delivery. This life cycle helps to transfer the right solutions at the right time. In more depth, Agile is an iterative, incremental, or evolutionary approach for project development that provides high-level collaboration by the self-organizing team and produce high-quality software in cost-effective manners that can also meet the changing needs of its stakeholders.
Benefits of Agile
Agile became the most effective and popular project management technique rapidly. Now it’s essential to understand the benefits of Agile.
- Agile focuses on collaboration, team empowerment, lightweight, and relying on index cards, whiteboards, and facilitation techniques.
- Continue integration, and daily testing of the development process allow the development team to cope with the issues promptly.
- The software is developed in small incremental cycles that produce a result in a small incremental release that also includes functionalities of the previous release.
- Elaborate product functionalities to customers in every sprint review.
- Float product to market instantly in every release. The client can get products during the project development life cycle.
- Keep the customers involved and engaged.
- Implementing agile methodologies and practices reduces the chances of project failures.
- Agile gives freedom to implement new changes. New changes can be implemented with minimal cost due to the frequency of new increments that are produced.
- Consider client needs and practices throughout the development process. Agile mostly uses user stories with business-focused criteria to define product features and functions. Each feature, according to customer needs, incrementally delivers values, not just a technical component. This provides the opportunity of beta testing after each iteration, obtain valuable feedback in the early stages of the project, and provide features to make changes according to customer needs.
Agile Best Practices
Using agile methodology depends upon the interaction of teams who have the cross-functional skillset to develop and test software. The most commonly used programming practices are test-driven development, continuous integration, simple code design, pair programming, single code standard that contribute to the high quality and sustainability of software.
Countless Agile strategies and best practices are part of an agile team that gives the benefits of learning from those practices. Agile best practices are more important because they concern about how a group of individuals can work together to produce more high-quality products. Even the best testers and developers are required to interpersonal games to produce product values to users. This can only be achieved with effective communication and collaboration among the team, business stakeholders, and customers.
Now let’s review some agile best practices. When we implement these practices, we have to make sure that company processes are elevated for the best results.
1 – The systematic development and testing team
In the Agile development team, there should be a delimitation line between the Developers and the Quality Assurance team. The main focus of developers and testers should be to perform their responsibilities accurately to float software into the market successfully. The developers and quality assurance team should have to work together to transfer the product into a shape that can be reviewed by customers.
2 – Increased involvement of QA
Since the agile methodology works in iterations in each cycle, the testing is needed to be done in each iteration. The main target is to test each part of the work in the same sprint. Thus, the quality assurance team needs to involve at the beginning of each module of customers and understand sessions and demos as well.
The participation of quality assurance in the early stages of software development will minimize the number of bugs in the final stage of development. The involvement of QA at the start also minimizes the chances of a big surprise at the end.
3 – Highlight risks and obstructions
The agile method also stimulates the team to reduce any distractions that can come up during the iterations of software development in advance. During agile, the team can skip any risk or roadblocks while software development planning for sprint and get saturated with sprint backlog, some high-level bugs, and urgent customer advancement requests during the sprint. To avoid any risk at the end, the delivery team tries to estimate efforts and deal with risks and roadblocks, and prepare end delivery plans according to it.
4 – Frequent collaboration with the customer
Agile always collaborate with the client to inform about progress and inform the team what will have to do in each sprint. Through constant communication with the team, it is ensured that the customer will get all functionalities required by him/her.
5 – Time boxed
The duration of each sprint should be rigid and have to take place within a specified timeframe. The timeframe range can be from one week to two months.
6 – Value Stream analysis
This is based on two principles. The first need to define products on user stories and user stories based on an analysis of the business. After this, define a dependency between business and technical functionalities.
7 – User Stories
The agile team has to describe product functionalities by communication with the client and then describe the software product position in a particular way. This part includes three main sections: time estimation, description, and acceptance criteria. If the user requirements are too much complex, then the whole component needs to be broken down into smaller units, which will be processed within short sprints.
8 – Examples specifications
As the team is dealing with user stories. The developers have to describe all possible options for a particular functionality and how that will affect other features.
9 – Daily meetings
Regular meetings are a primary principle for agile implementation. This meeting should be shorts and concise, with each member to elaborate on the progress of each task and what is required to do now. This method is considered an effective way to evaluate the performance of a team and check any hindrance in the way of development.
Global teams face many challenges due to their geographic isolation of working groups, and time zone difference that limited the availability of team members. Establishing a virtual room, face to face mobile-based, or cloud-based collaboration are alternatives to an in-person conversation. Conference calls or group text are considered common substitutions.
10 – Continuous integration
Continuous integration keeps the code up to date. All the codes are required to be verified but integrated with the previous code versions. This method simplifies the testing procedure of user stories. After integrating old code with the new one, unit testing is performed to check that the code is working accurately. On the very next day, a regression test is performed to verify that new functionalities do not affect the rest of the code.
For the smooth implementation of sprint test automation, it is compulsory to choose the right tool. Before taking measures with a tool, it is suggested to make sure that the tool meets all specific requirements for your project.
Test sigma is an automated testing tool that helps to measure transitions smoothly. The efficient test creation interface and features like affected resources, and save huge maintenance time. It is completely hosted on the cloud, starting from the test creation interface to test lab reporting results.
11 – Automated tests
Every regression test is started automatically before starting the work to make sure that code changes are acceptable. This allows a quick view about which functionality is not working according to plans.
12 – Programming in pairs
Programming in Pairs involves user requirements in pairs, such as primary and secondary developers. The most important is that there is only one owner of a user story, and other programmers are providing support so that they can rotate. It is required to produce two programming sessions: one for developers and one for the owner of user stories. Even the code reviews are necessary to perform in pairs. To access team performance, group performance frequent work is also required in matrix pairs.
13 – Burndown charts
Make charts to show that things are going according to plan and schedule of programming. They elaborate precisely on work time and schedule. Moreover, well-designed plans can show the number of user stories according to per unit time.
14 – Sprint meetings
The developers are ready for performing functionalities, and now it’s time to hold short meetings in the sprint where it is suggested to explain the product functionality and evaluate how it will work according to the client requirements.
15 – Retrospective meeting
This concept elaborates on the meetings for finite iterative development. All team members must attend the meeting, and the client also participates in this meeting. Here the discussion is held to improve the process, quality of work, lesson learned, a tool used, and training. Matrix is applied to sections like stop, start, and continue.
16 – Shippable code
At last, we have a package of code. We have to make sure that the code is working. With the release of each package code, the client has to ensure that the expected business value has to reach in a short time.
17 – Release Planning
A calendar of releases is launched to give a clear message to all concerned when the client expected new software functionality. It also helps to make corrections in code if every version support automated testing, and integration will provide other components of the product.
Scaling agile best practices for global teams
When the Agile teams uniformly started to produce high-quality products, the organizations began to expand the agile development process on more and more products. By implementing agile methodologies, many teams can work on a single product or can release multiple products in a portfolio. These teams integrate the planning and execute their work based on agile delivery solutions that automate agile practices and delivery. Agile teams continuously work on self-organization and team collaboration to achieve product goals.
Organizations can also implement agile practices and principles on functional areas and business units to attain higher-level benefits of agility on other projects. Teams in these areas implement agile practices on products that can run products from digital transformation to human resource management. Adopting agile practices and methodologies like Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) provides a roadmap for enterprise-level implementation. Despite about top-down decision-making procedure, SAFe has increased its success rate from 30-50% in productivity.
Scaling Agile is more efficient when large organizations apply Agile Methodologies regardless of how large and complex the products are. Some successful agile practices are making smaller teams, always stick to short iterations, get instant feedback from customers, and engaging the users to refine their requirements. These are core values and principles for how agile teams can work together to make products sustainable. The product success rate will increase if the implementation of agile practices is set to the highest priority. These practices can include collaboration, motivation, daily interaction, self-organization, and continuous improvement.