What is an agile methodology anyways?

Agile methodologies is a collection of lightweight software development approaches (some would call them “best practices”) that evolved in the mid-1990s and early 2000s in reaction to heavy weight waterfall processes common in most organizations.

Common agile methodologies include Scrum, Extreme Programming, Adaptive Software Development, and Feature Driven Development.

Scrum, one of the most commonly adopted agile method, focuses on quickly delivering value to the customer by breaking up tasks into small units, called “Stories”, which developed in short time boxed iterations lasting from one to four weeks.

Teams are typically between 5-9 people with cross functional skills. Small teams help simplify collaboration and team communication. In some cases multiple small teams are formed when projects require a larger number of development resource to meet the customer goals.

Each iteration involves a team working through a full software development cycle, including planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing when a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders.

Using this approach, teams are able to reduce project risk by providing teams with frequent points for customer input along with focused planning sessions that helps the project to adapt to changes quickly. Stakeholders produce documentation as required.

These and other agile methods promote collaborative planning, teamwork and lightweight development and testing practices. All support one or more of the twelve principles, first articulated in the Agile Manifesto.

    • Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
    • Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
    • Close, daily co-operation between business people and developers
    • Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
    • Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
    • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
    • Simplicity- The art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential
    • Self-organizing teams
    • Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Most promote development, teamwork, collaboration, and process adaptability throughout the life-cycle of the project.  Finally, all agile practices use “working software” as the primary measure of progress and value  face-to-face communication over detailed written documentation. And focus on working with the customer (sometimes called the “Product Owner”) to prioritize “needs” based on business value that can be achieved at the start of the iteration

References
Agile Manifesto, http://agilemanifesto.org/ Ambler, S.W. “Examining the Agile Manifesto”. Retrieved 12 December 2011.http://www.ambysoft.com/essays/agileManifesto.html
Beck, Kent; et al. (2001). “Principles behind the Agile Manifesto”. Agile Alliance. Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.

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