Agile is a software development methodology that many software developers follow. Learn about the best practices of this method here.
Globally, nearly nine in every ten businesses now use some form of Agile. So this method has come a long way since its inception over twenty years ago when the phrase might have raised a few eyebrows in a business meeting.
But what are Agile practices, and is it the right approach for your next software development project?
We'll reveal all in this guide. We'll briefly introduce you to Agile and explain some of the best practices for making it a success in any organisation.
Back in 2001, a group of leading engineers and developers got together to discuss the state of the IT industry. IT projects had developed a reputation for being late, over budget and buggy.
The solution, they decided, was a more flexible style of software development. This iterative approach valued early delivery in small incremental units and continued testing.
It was fast-paced and embraced change and continual improvement.
That was Agile. It was a step away from the traditional waterfall, where requirements gathering and design happened before a single line of code was written.
The software industry gradually embraced Agile, and a string of successful agile projects convinced major software corporations that it was far superior to the old way of working.
The flexibility in Agile means it's equally valuable on small and large projects. It's predominantly used on software IT projects but spans a range of industries, including:
Other business areas outside of software development are beginning to embrace the benefits of Agile. That includes marketing and product development.
If Agile sounds appealing, how do you start using it as part of your next project? Here are some best practices that will help you make the transition a little smoother and help make your first Agile development a success.
Whether internal or external, all software projects will have someone who acts as the customer. And this role is central to successful Agile delivery.
A customer is there to communicate their requirements and accept delivery of each bit of code you produce.
So you must work closely with them at every point to ensure your software development fully aligns with what the customer expects and wants.
Agile is an umbrella term that encompasses many different frameworks. These frameworks can provide you with guidance and methodology throughout your project. Here are the four most well-known Agile methodologies:
Always choose a framework that suits your organisation and invest in training and development.
You should at least invest in training your project team, tech lead and software developers. But if you can, train management and support staff too, including resource managers and the quality assurance team.
The more you understand how to apply a methodology, the easier it will be to embed Agile within your company culture.
If you try and use Agile as a standalone approach on a software project, chances are you'll run into a wall within your organisation.
That's because Agile is often vastly different to traditional business practices such as planning, budgeting and resource management.
To successfully use Agile, you must first get buy-in from a senior stakeholder in your company - someone who will act as a champion and help teams and managers embrace a new way of working.
Technical teams readily embrace Agile as it sits more naturally with the developmental software lifecycle. But moving to agile is still a significant cultural shift, and it may take time for a team to get used to a new way of working.
So if you want to implement it, start with a high-performing team with lots of previous experience working with one another.
That level of camaraderie will help you push through challenges as you learn - through trial and error - how to make Agile methods work for your business.
It might even be worth arranging a team-building away day before you start your first Agile project.
Good communication and collaboration become much easier when you have the right tools. So before beginning your project, look at where you can invest in tools across your project to help you succeed with an Agile project.
That will include communication tools, development, testing and customer collaboration platforms.
While you may have non-tech personnel who manage projects, it's essential to have a technical leader who can guide the development team. Ideally, this will be an experienced software developer.
They can add lots of value, such as helping make decisions on feature priorities and estimating time and workloads. They'll also be a great asset in motivating a team and helping them deliver a new software release to your customer.
Choose the most experienced technical lead you have in your organisation, and ensure you fully train them in your Agile framework.
Agile in itself is a change for a company. But applying Agile on a project will give you first-hand experience of rapid change in your software, and the old change management methods will not work in this scenario.
Change in an Agile project is seen by teams as a positive, something to embrace, so you must keep that attitude close to hand when you're in the difficult stages of project delivery.
When something needs changing, and it could upset your development, look at what you can do as a team to turn that change into a positive thing that will add value to your project and software.
Continual and comprehensive testing will be essential to Agile software development. Testing and quality assurance shouldn't sit at the edges of your development team.
They should form a central part of it, working with your developers to check each small iteration to ensure the process happens rapidly and accurately.
Agile practices have a lot to offer to any business. They'll help you deliver fast, flexibly, and competitively. But you'll need to apply these best practice guidelines to see Agile thrive in your organisation.
For more support in using Agile in your organisation, browse our Agile training courses to find the right training solution for your team.
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