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Why Your Business Needs an Agile Software Development Team

Andrii Horiachko
02 January 2020 • 9 min read
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Why Your Business Needs an Agile Software Development Team

You are probably familiar with the term “agile” when it comes to software development. If not, then it is high time that you learned about it and how it works, particularly if you’re planning to build or to hire a team to develop software for your business.

What are the benefits of the Agile approach to make it worth applying? The agile development model is particularly useful when it comes to making your product SDLC, e.g. the software development life cycle or process in simple words, highly collaborative, iterative, and cyclic. Applying Agile SDLC methodologies in your development team work you can achieve the best results on your project development in the shortest time.

 

What Does Agile Mean?

Under Agile is usually meant a methodology used during the software development lifecycle based on iterative development. In other words, the development process passes through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional team members. The framework for agile development is a lightweight process, and it is the most widely used one that’s out there.

Afterward, consider how the number of teams who confirmed their adoption of the agile approach is scaling up to over 90% of all responders during the last years under Statista.

scrum adoption worldwide for 2018

Moreover, one more reason to apply this software development methodology is that Agile projects are 28% more successful than those that don't follow this approach. As Agile reduces the risks, focus on business purposes and reach them through building the right product. Hence, now you know why this methodology is so effective to be used, therefore it’s time to move ahead on how it works.

 

How Agile Process Works

Agile development methodology is a type of project management process. Although it is mainly used for software development, it can be applied in certain other areas as well. It is best used wherever demands and solutions evolve through a collaborative effort by various team members working tog

An agile developers’ team knows and understands how to self-organize and how to measure software development metrics of their productivity. Hence, they are cross-functional, meaning that they may be working on several aspects of a project at once to try and attain a goal within a designated time frame.

Speaking about Agile development, it is a time-boxed, iterative approach to software delivery divided into usual stages of the software development process divided again into sprints.

When used correctly, it allows the building of software incrementally from the beginning of a project. Rather than trying to deliver the finished product in a mad rush, it is a slow and deliberate endeavor. Agile software development methodology requires both precision and patience.

 

Agile Methodologies Used in the Software Development Process

Hence, getting an understanding of how this approach work, it’s time to discuss the three most powerful Agile methodology for software development:

Scrum

Agile software development with Scrum is especially popular these days with over 94% from all responders who use Agile and 76% of them use solely Scrum according to ScrumAlliance survey. This is thanks largely to its simplicity and proven productivity. It also has the ability to act as a catch-all framework for various practices and achieve business goals. That’s why more and more teams are going to use this approach into their workflow after the mentioned above survey:

scrum adoption worldwide for 2018

With Scrum software, there is a designated “Product Owner.” This individual or entity works closely with their team to identify and prioritize their goals or most critical features. They add these to what is called a “Product Backlog”. The backlog might consist of features, bug fixes, or non-functional requirements. This is a system that is sometimes referred to as waterfall software development. Agile development Scrum usage has become the preferred method in many different industries and niches.

Once this backlog is in place, the Product Owner decides what the priorities are going to be. Teams sign up to deliver “potentially shippable increments” of software during their Sprints, which typically last 30 days. It is exclusively the assigned team members who work on each Sprint. At the end of that 30-day period, the backlog is analyzed and reprioritized if necessary, and the whole thing begins again. Scrum software development is an area in which some teams specialize.

Kanban

Kanban in software development is another Agile methodology built around continual delivery. It is among one of the most commonly used in software development according to Scrumstar study but much less popular than Scrum.

scrum adoption worldwide for 2018

It was designed to keep things simple and not overburden the development team. Kanban is based around 3 basic principles:

  • Visualizing Your Workflow on a Board: this means you are able to see all the items you’re working on in the context of each other. This approach is highly intuitive. It helps keep things clear and simple when projects are in danger of becoming too complex.
  • Keep Your Work-in-Progress (WIP) Limited: the backlog is defined before your Sprint and nothing can be added. Kanban relies on teams knowing how much they can actually do in each Sprint. This means no member of the design team becomes stressed and overburdened.
  • Have Clear Next Steps: to keep the flow of Kanban moving, you should always know what is meant to happen after each task is completed. This means keeping your backlog prioritized and updated.

Extreme Programming (XP)

XP could be considered a more disciplined approach to agile project management. The main difference between XP and the previous two is the amount of customer involvement. Rapid feedback loops, continuous testing and planning, and close teamwork are all employed.

The goal of it all is to deliver working software quickly and efficiently that meets the customer’s needs. A typical XP Sprint lasts only 1–3 weeks, as opposed to multiple months, as might be the case with the others.

The original XP “recipe,” as described firstly by software engineer Kent Beck in his book on Extreme Programming Explained, was based around 4 values. Those were simplicity, communication, feedback, and courage. He also outlined 12 supporting practices that team members should employ who used this system.

In XP and waterfall development methodology, there are tight feedback loops. The customer, that is the person or company who conceived of the project, works closely with the team. They define and prioritize granular goals which are called “User Stories”. The team then estimates, prioritizes, and plans the delivery of these Stories. At the conclusion of each phase, they get feedback from the customer. At the end of the designated time, if everything has gone according to plan, then a highly-polished product will be ready for release into the market.

 

How To Implement Agile Approach into your SDLC

At this point, you might be thinking that using an agile framework might be beneficial in helping you attain your company’s goals. Thus, let’s dive into how to implement it in practice.

The agile methodology overview could be considered a mixture of constant planning, execution, learning, and iteration.

But the overall process starts with the following:

  • understanding and defining who will be using the finished product
  • crafting and documenting a realistic vision statement to which your team can adhere
  • defining the correct scope, opportunities, and desired outcome of the project

Here is a common structure of Agile software development process

scrum adoption worldwide for 2018

Let’s dive into more details on these and other steps of agile software development:

  • Brainstorm craft your vision through a strategy meeting: it is at this stage that you outline what your project is going to entail, what functions to have, on what tech stack to be built on. You talk about what the endgame is going to be, and what you envision for the finished product.
  • Set up your product roadmap and design: this is where you would talk about the requirements, timeline for the project.
  • Formulate a release plan: agile projects will be released in multiple stages. You’ll want to prioritize the features needed to get you to where you’re ready to launch. For example, usually, you can start by setting up a product design process first.
  • It's time to plan out your sprints: Sprint planning is a team effort. The product owner, project managers, and all team members should be present to voice their thoughts and concerns.
  • Keep your team on track with daily standups: in agile-speak, the standup is the daily meeting. These are vital because they allow project leaders to know almost immediately if a team member has any issues or concerns.
  • Sprint is done: at the end of each Sprint, it is time for a thorough review. If everything has gone as planned, by the end of your Sprint cycle, you should have a functioning piece of software. At this point, it’s time to review what was done. You can also bring in any key stakeholders so they can review your progress.
  • What’s next: the final step will be to decide what to focus on in your Sprint retrospective. Are there any phases of the project that need finishing touches, or is it ready to bring to the market?

For agile development methods to work, you need to have clarity in the process from start to finish. A step-by-step approach that leaves nothing to chance is your best opportunity for success. Your Sprint retrospective is the time when you’ll determine how well your approach has worked. The more projects and Sprints you do, the better you and your team are likely to become with them. The agile development environment is one that thrives on cooperation and experience.

 

Agile Team Members

At this step getting to know what is agile and how it works, it’s critical to understand how to build a new team or rebuild your own that all members understand their role and how to execute them.

Hence, the common agile roles include:

  • Team Lead or Scrum Master

    In a Scrum, this is the team coach or project leader who is responsible for facilitating the team in various ways. They obtain whatever resources the team members lack. They try to anticipate problems before they occur, but they also deal with whatever new ones arise as the project moves forward. Extreme programming in agile is often overseen by the team leader.

  • Team Member (engineers, QA engineers)

    The tasks of each team member will vary depending on their expertise and the scope and intention of the project. But, every team member either an engineer, designer or QA engineer should understand how the development process based on Agile methodology is going in your project.

  • Product Owner

    The product owner acts as a liaison between the customer and internal stakeholders if there are any. They collaborate with stakeholders to try and reconcile the vision of everyone involved who has invested in the project. They operate from a set of agreed-upon goals. They also gather feedback from the various entities working on the project as it takes shape so that the result ends up being as close to the original product vision as possible.

  • Stakeholders

    The role of a stakeholder might vary dramatically depending on the parameters and objectives of each project. Some stakeholders do little other than put in the needed capital. Others, who have a hand in the creative vision, provide feedback before, during, or after the project is finished. Agile software delivery is what they are looking for at the end of the development time.

To get more visual understanding, watch a quick video to sum up Agile and Scrum team members roles in any project:

 

What Makes a Good Agile Team?

The agile approach to software development is all about communication. Team members have daily meetings for the extent of the project. They work together, so previous experiences where each member has demonstrated that they are a team player is preferable.

They must all be adept at problem-solving; it is the rare project where everything goes exactly according to plan from start to finish. They must have excellent technical development skills. All members must also strive to improve the team's speed and compatibility with each iteration. The agile model in software engineering works best when everyone knows their place.

Hence we gathered the most powerful advice for building the Agile team.

 

Tips for Creating Your Agile Team

  • Flexible Team

    Rigidity is your enemy when you are trying to create an app, a piece of software, a new platform, or anything else along those lines. New technology always brings new opportunities, but also unforeseen challenges. The best agile team can stick to a schedule when things are going right, but they can also adjust on the fly when you run into unanticipated circumstances.

  • The Right Team Members Focus on Results

    The best agile teams are composed of members who can focus more on results and outcomes than processes and procedures. No team member is going to be useful to you who gets more bogged down in the minutiae of day-to-day work and stops focusing on the project’s goals. Lean agile methodology is the aim, but getting there can be tricky for the inexperienced coder. Safe software development is something that comes with experience and time.

  • Seek and Use Feedback

    Excellent agile teams have systems, methods as UX deliverables or web frameworks in place to get their software out in front of their potential customers as soon as possible. They’ll want to collect feedback early on and incorporate it into the product. An agile team that knows how to set up and conduct focus groups and product testing opportunities is usually one that becomes successful. Iterative software development means incorporating feedback as the project is taking place.

  • It’s All About Trust

    Ultimately, an agile team is nothing without trust. The agile software development model thrives on it, and it is essential to true team functionality. The more a group of software developers works together in the agile format, the more they should come to trust each other. They will anticipate what each other are thinking and feeling. They will become like a well-oiled machine, skilled in waterfall programming and Scrum in software engineering.

This approach is beneficial because it’s a way to get a project together quickly and accurately. If you have the personnel, but you have significant time and budget restraints, then using the agile approach might be just what your company needs. Extreme programming methodology isn’t easy, but with the right individuals working for you, you can get to where you want to be.

If you don’t feel that you’re able to bring together the individuals who can make up an agile software team, then you can always delegate your software development process to a team that’s already formed and experienced. Thought if you’d like to set up your own agile team and ensure it works effectively, you can choose to get project management mentoring services on any kind if your project. Anyway, keep in mind that applying agile methodology you will see how your teamwork is optimized and product development passes smoothly.

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