What is Agile?
Agile working is a way of working, especially within the tech industry. It is a set of methodologies that helps teams to work more efficiently and to make faster decisions. What is unique about Agile within software development is that it puts an emphasis on the iterative approach instead of planning big deliveries within a longer period of time. The agile approach prefers smaller but faster deliveries that allow for changes and short feedback cycles.
But Agile is also a mindset. It puts emphasis on the people doing the work and how they work together. Collaboration is the key to create and evolve the right solutions. There is a big focus on self-organising and cross-functional teams. The teams can decide on their own how to approach the work they are doing and there are all the right skill sets to solve the problems in the team.
Agile Manifesto lists the most important rules that should be followed while working with the mindset. It consists of the four values and twelve supporting principles that describe the Agile approach to project development.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools – Agile values people working together effectively more than processes and tools.
Working software over comprehensive documentation – documentation is important, but the main point of the development is to have working software rather than lengthy technical requirements.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation – while it is important to understand the scope of the projects, Agile values more customer input. It seeks feedback during the whole development process rather than than negotiating the requirements before starting the work and not allowing for any changes on the way.
Responding to change over following a plan – Agile’s view is that changes always improve a project and provide additional value.
The Manifesto for Agile software development is based on twelve principles:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.
- Deliver working software frequently.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity, the art of maximizing the amount of work not done, is essential.
- The best architecture, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.
Scrum is one of the most common frameworks for managing the work while applying Agile.
Scrum work is structured around the sprints that usually last one to two weeks. During the sprint, the team builds the items in the sprint backlog into working software. The team keeps the sprint backlog up to date and visible to everyone.
Scrum is also known for its ceremonies – planning, daily stand-ups, demos and retrospectives.
The goal of the planning session is to set the agenda for the sprint. Everyone in the development team should get introduced to the stories that are going to be completed during the upcoming sprint.
The objective of the daily stand-up is to share the status of the work that the team is doing and flag if there are any blockers. It is a short meeting, usually not lasting any more than 15 minutes, and each person in the team should answer these three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What are you going to do today?
- Is there anything blocking you?
A sprint demo is held at the end of the sprint to demonstrate everything that has been developed to the team and the customers.
During this meeting, the team talks about how the sprint went for everybody. This is an opportunity to talk about what went well, what can be improved, and what should be avoided next time.
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