What is Agile Methodology

Agile methodology is a set of principles that have been described in the Agile Manifesto, which was written in 2001. Agile methodology principles focus on individuals and interactions, working products, customer collaboration and being able to respond to changes.

Scrum is a framework for the implementation of your projects and for software development. It is based on the Agile methodology. Like with other project management frameworks, there are multiple guidelines which can be used for your benefit - some of those are mandatory, while others are optional.

One of the main focus points in Agile methodology is that projects and product development would return value as soon as possible, preferably during the implementation of the project. Like the good old saying: time is money.
Another main focus in Agile methodology is transparency. In Agile methodology there are numerous tools to allow the business or sponsor to follow up the development or implementation. The most important with Agile methodology is that there is a collaboration between the developers or implementing team, and the customer or business.

Another significant aspect of Agile methodology are iterations, called Sprints. In Agile methodology these are short, constantly repeated cycles, with a prescribed set of Ceremonies which can be kept.

Agile methodology also focuses on change. These days, there are numerous influences that might require that you are able to update your requirements. Agile methodology fits right into that.

Agile Methodology 1 - fast iterations

What is Agile

What makes Agile methodology different from other (waterfall based) methodologies?
In Waterfall, a typical approach to project management goes like this:

  1. The project requirements and documentation are gathered, and very detailed.
  2. Architecture or System Design is being worked out
  3. The implementation is done
  4. A testing cycle starts
  5. The project delivery is done
  6. Maintenance for the project start.

Apart from status meetings and budget sessions, a key difference to Agile methodology is that there are almost no interactions between the project implementer and the sponsors, and changes in the project are usually done at the end of the project delivery. This can potentially cause a loss of money.

In Agile methodology, the approach would rather be like this:

  1. In Agile methodology, the project requirements and documented are being defined on a high level
  2. With Agile methodology features are defined, each composed of User Stories, and each User Story having one or multiple tasks
  3. In Agile methodology the Sprint length is defined
  4. When using Agile methodology, a Scrum team is set up for the duration of the project, and possibly for maintenance after the implementation,

In Agile methodology, Sprints are being reiterated, each having multiple of the following phases and/or ceremonies:

  • With Agile methodology, User Stories are defined
  • With Agile methodology, User Stories are prioritized by the Product Owner
  • Development and implementation of tasks
  • With Agile methodology, deliveries are tested
  • With Agile methodology, retrospective meetings are held
  • With Agile methodology, Sprint review meeting is held

If something needs to be adapted or changed, Agile methodology facilitates this in the feedback which can be given during Sprint reviews, or sessions with the Product Owner. Depending on the priority of your change, Agile methodology allows you to add your change to either the next iteration, or a later one. Obviously, this can only be beneficial.

Agile Scrum

Agile Scrum is a very popular framework to enable teams to work together, and which is based on the Agile methodology. It enables the development, delivery and maintenance of complicated and simple projects. This enables the teams to think about how to work best, experiment and learn from their experience before making changes.

In Agile methodology, Agile Scrum teams consist of people with different roles: there is a Product Owners, a Scrum master and the Scrum team. Read more on Agile Scrum trainings and certifications

Example of Аpplying Agile Мethodology

Assume that you have found an interesting product in China, and that you want to bring it to the European market. Your idea is to import the product, and to marketer it through a website, and use a web shop.

Let's assume first that you work with a methodology based on Waterfall. You define your budget for the web sites, a project plan, and assemble a team. The project delivery forecast is after 6 months. As mentioned before, there are of course status meetings during the project, but no real view is given of the end product. So, in theory, it is only after 6 months that the business can further be developed, and that changes can be done to the original request.

Now let's assume that you work with Agile methodology. You define your budget and project plan, assemble a team, and set the length of your sprints to two weeks. When using Agile methodology, after every 2 weeks, there is a sprint delivery meeting, where you can see the project development, and can provide your feedback for changes.

Initially both look the same, right?

Now let's assume that, after a month into the project, you discover that the Chines product is actually not really meeting your quality standards. Instead, you decide to work with a Bulgarian vendor, who has a similar product, at the same cost, and with a superior quality. You decide to bring this to the market instead.

In theory, if you would work with Waterfall, it would mean that the first project would have to be cancelled, and most work would have to be restarted.

If you would work with Agile methodology, however, the following could happen instead: the sponsor or customer talks with the team or the Product Owner, and decide to change the project to these needs. With Agile methodology, almost no time or effort will be lost, and the project can be continued within approximately the same estimated delivery time.

This is, of course, a pretty extreme example and is more to highlight how easy it is to embrace change while using Agile methodology.

Many people think that Agile methodology only works for IT projects. That is not true. Agile methodology can be applied to any type of project, in any type of company and at any time.

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What is Agile Methodology
What makes Agile methodology different from other (waterfall based) methodologies?
Agile Scrum
Example of Аpplying Agile Мethodology