People at a computer working agile

Agile Methodology: A Short Primer

Introduction

Software is becoming more and more an essential part of business operations in the mid-size business. Companies are starting to add software teams to their IT force to meet the demand for new and improved software for automation, customer relations, accounting, and other processes.

With the demand for software teams, the need for the agile methodology to implementation in business is growing more and more. Larger companies have more resources and to stay competitive as a mid-size company, you need to find an edge. Agile may be the edge you are looking for to keep working software operational and continually scaling.

What is the Agile Method

The agile method is a software development methodology that focuses on people, working software, and a sustainable development environment for customer satisfaction and competitiveness. By producing working software fast, customer satisfaction is higher due to a working software product that does what the customer needs at the time they need it. 

Agile uses interactions and collaborations between all shareholders involved in a project to continuously develop and improve on the project to help achieve the development of working software faster. When customers and business operations have input for developers on features and functions instead of documentation of what might be needed, a better product is created.

Customer satisfaction should be a priority at all times. The agile method helps to put the customer first, whether it’s external or internal customers. Agile doesn’t dwell on pre-production details and contract negotiations. It focuses on collaboration between teams and customers. 

Agile allows for the response to sudden changes in development and welcomes the changes. Being responsive to development allows for quicker working software. When you stick to a stringent plan, adjustments can set you back weeks to months. Finding alternatives, rewriting code to adjust to changes, having to scrap, and having to start all over, these are problem areas that the lack of responsiveness can cause.

One crucial factor to remember is agile is a practice. It should not be as the end game or goal of a software project. 

Agile for Project Management

Agile can be used for other operations like project management as well. Agile Project Management (APM) is a process that breaks projects down into smaller projects called sprints. Sprints are used for the design, development, implementation, testing, quality assurance of the entire project. Sprints can be days to weeks long. 

The benefit of APM is the implementation of each sprint is not dependant on the finished product. Much like software, the goal is to develop quick and working projects for competitiveness. 

Agile for Other Business Operations

Agile is beginning to be a buzzword in other sectors of business. While the specific implementations are for software production, agile is being adopted and adjusted to be used with operations like marketing, legal, and HR.

Agile marketing is a hot topic. Agile marketing adopted the agile principles and created its own set of them to use in marketing. This proves the agile method is a valuable and beneficial way to implement new projects.

Agile’s History

The iterative nature of the agile methodology has been discussed since the 1970s, but never took full effect in the 2000s. During the 1990s, there were lags between the concept and launch of enterprise software, which often placed time constraints on the end-user. 

In Utah, in 2011, a group of 17 engineers met to discuss this issue. The meeting was the development of the agile method and the “Agile Manifesto.” All the attendees signed the manifesto. The group was known as the “Agile Alliance” after the conference. 

The 12 Agile Methodology Principles

The manifesto includes 12 principles to follow when practicing the agile method for software development.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile process harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is a face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organized teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective. Then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Tips to Implement the Agile Methodology

Find a framework that works for you

Frameworks can help you, and your team adhere to the agile method and build your development environment. There are various frameworks to help you implement agile into your development and project management projects. Choosing the best frame will depend on your needs and team. 

The 5 most popular frameworks are:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Lean Development
  • Crystal

Communications is Key

People are a significant influence on how effective the agile methodology will be. Communications is key to team synchronization and project efficiency. Keeping stakeholders informed and listening to concerns and suggestions invites improvement and a better product. 

Continued Improvement of the Process

Teams and collaborators need to take time during the process to reflect and determine if the improvement is required. Assess how you’re doing and determine what could be done better to keep deployment ongoing.

Smaller Working Software Deployment

Continued development and deployment of software projects should be a priority. Focus on building a minimum viable product to launch. Develop more and fix bugs while it’s operational to keep customers competitive. 

Conduct Daily Stand-Ups for Progress

Stand-ups touch on communications but deserve a separate tip. Conduct mini-meetings each day to check progress and ensure all stakeholders sync and goals for each portion of the project keep on track.

Resources on the Agile Methodology

There are many resources regarding the agile method (including CoveyCS). The two primary resources for the manifesto and information of agile are:

Agile Alliance

Original Agile Manifesto Site

Conclusion

Agile methodology allows your software team to develop and deploy quicker through the philosophy of working software, collaboration, and continuous improvement. The principles can adapt to other business operations. Agile is an excellent set of principles that will allow you to move forward and remain competitive. Give it a try.

To learn more about agile implementation, email, or call us today at 315-738-6016. We are a software company specializing in custom software and integrations, cloud technologies (AWS Certified), blockchain, and staff augmentation. We work with startups to global corporations in manufacturing, insurance, finance, defense, and cybersecurity. Contact us today for more information on how we can help start, grow, or make your business more efficient through our software solutions.