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What is agile methodology?

Is your team using the agile method of working? Although agile methodology might seem complex at first glance, it’s actually an intuitive system designed to react more positively to change. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of agile methodology.

Understanding agile methodology

Agile project management is an approach to working that aims to streamline workflows. It does this by breaking large projects down into smaller, manageable tasks completed in bursts of activity throughout the wider project life cycle. There are a number of benefits of agile methodology, chief of which is this way of working enables teams to adapt to changes more readily.

As the project is broken up into several stages, team members maintain consistent contact with all stakeholders. It ensures that customer expectations are managed along the way. Teams using this framework can adjust their work incrementally to keep pace with customer needs.

Who can use the agile methodology?

The agile methodology was originally conceived for software development, a sector wherein end products can be tricky to define. Agile frameworks allow developers to change direction along with innovations. But this agile methodology can be applied in any situation that requires project management. In addition to IT, it’s also used in marketing, education, and product development.

Overview of the agile manifesto

There are four core values outlined in the agile manifesto:

1. Individual interactions > processes and tools

Agile puts humans at the heart of each project. It’s important to communicate effectively in every interaction, checking in with stakeholders along the way. Though technology might be increasingly sophisticated, these tools shouldn’t be placed above the individual.

2. Product > documentation

It’s important to keep the right documentation as part of agile methodology, but a working end product is more important. This provides greater value to stakeholders.

3. Collaboration > negotiation

This dovetails with the ideas of the first core value, i.e., people come before property and process. While you should absolutely involve contracts as part of the project, don’t get overly bogged down in the negotiations. Instead, focus on how you can work together to create a better outcome.

4. Agile response > rigid planning

Finally, agile methodology puts great value on the ability to adapt to changes. Projects are fluid and incremental, meaning you can tweak them along the way rather than sticking to a strict, predetermined plan.

Agile methodology steps

Along with these core values, agile methodology also follows a series of steps. Before going into these, it’s helpful to first define some of the terminology, particularly that used in the popular agile scrum framework.

  1. User stories: These are work requests written from the user’s perspective, outlining the goals.

  2. Sprints: These are short bursts of time where teams work flat-out on the task before reviewing what is and isn’t working.

  3. Stand-up meetings: Also called daily scrum meetings, stand-up meetings give the team a chance to check-in each day. The team must stay standing, keeping meetings short and sweet.

  4. Agile board: This gives a visual overview of the project’s progress. It could be a whiteboard, Kanban board, or project management software.

Although you can choose from several frameworks within agile methodology, including scrum and Kanban, all involve similar steps. For example, here are the agile methodology steps that would be used in the scrum framework.

  1. Project planning: The first step is to sit down with the team to discuss and review your business client’s goals, defining key concepts.

  2. Project roadmap: The next step is to create a roadmap outlining all the features that will make up your final product or outcome. This is how you will break down the bigger task into smaller, manageable chunks for each sprint.

  3. Release planning: The main difference between agile and waterfall project management is the timing of end product release. With waterfall, you release the final product in one go. With agile, you’ll have a timed series of releases for each stage.

  4. Sprint planning: You can now plan what will be accomplished by each team member during the sprints, assessing task load realistically. Create a visual agile board to keep track of workflow.

  5. Hold daily stand-ups: Check in with team members during these daily meetings, giving each individual a chance to talk through what they’ve accomplished.

  6. Review sprints: At the end of each sprint, it’s time to look at the finished product along with stakeholders. This is the time to talk about what works and what isn’t working, adjusting your overall plan as necessary with a sprint retrospective meeting.

Agile methodology pros and cons

There are numerous benefits of agile methodology. From the customer’s perspective, it offers a responsive experience where their needs are listened to. This boosts customer satisfaction and retention rates. Development teams see their work more highly valued, with flexible working schedules that can adapt to problems as they arise.

When looking at agile methodology pros and cons, there are very few disadvantages to this type of working method. Because it’s so flexible, you can adapt the agile process to most industries and outcomes.

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