A Nimble Look Into Agile

Day by day, we keep hearing that the world is moving faster, that the quality of our products and services needs to improve, and that everything is changing in minutes. As a result, there’s a constant urge to make everything more “agile”.

Companies are constantly changing and evolving in an extremely globalized and dynamic world– and this tiny word “agile” is becoming increasingly relevant. It seems to come up every time there’s a conversation about how a project should be handled, whether it’s an IT company (where this all started) or any of the other wide-ranging industries that exist. The PMI Institute states that 71% of organizations have adopted agile methodologies, and QSM Associates concluded that, as compared with industry averages, the development teams utilizing agile practices were on average:

  • 36 % faster delivering their software to market
  • 16% more productive
  • Able to maintain normal defect counts despite significant schedule compression

But before we go any further…

What is Agile?

Agile Development is not, as many people may believe, a single methodology or process, it’s a mindset or a philosophy. It’s a set of methods and practices to solve problems and work projects divided into small pieces, through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Agile values and principles were laid out in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development created by a group of developers (and a tester) in 2001. Here are their 12 principles:

  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 processes 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 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-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

These principles are the basis for all agile methodologies but each prioritizes the ones it considers most important based on the results, organizational culture, and way of working they desire.

The top three agile methodologies by market usage are Lean development, Kanban and Scrum.

Kanban is built around continual delivery while keeping things simple, visualizing workflows and limiting work in process. It largely helps organizations with process-oriented cultures that prefer evolutionary improvements with few prescribed practices.

Lean development, like Kanban works better for organizations with process-oriented cultures that prefer evolutionary improvements with overarching values. However, in Lean there aren’t any prescribed practices which can be challenging for some individuals who are used to prescriptive methodologies.

Scrum is probably the most well-known Agile methodology, especially in the Software development world. It is thought to be adopted by an organization with creative cultures with high levels of trust and collaboration, or by radical innovation teams that want to change their working environment.

There are many more methodologies that share some of these same values and principles but differ in the way they emphasize each of these, however it’s important to remember that working “Agile” also means that each team or organization can adapt this methodology to its specific needs or even to combine various approaches.

As the Agile Alliance says, “It’s really about thinking through how you can understand what’s going on in the environment that you’re in today, identify what uncertainty you’re facing, and figure out how you can adapt to that as you go along.”

Agile can help your company to improve its projects, so that your products or services can be released faster and less money is wasted, and also to get the most productivity out of your teams. If you are considering implementing Agile in your company, give it a try! We can help you at Zwinny.

You can start with a small project, and then spread to other projects later.

Start small and let the word spread!

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