What is Agile?
Many organizations have adopted Agile, a popular methodology for developing products or projects. Agile is a flexible, iterative, customer-centric approach to delivering value. It emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, short development cycles, and continuous improvement. Agile helps teams deliver working software to the customer early and often and respond to change quickly and effectively. In this post, we will introduce Agile, Scrum, Kanbab, XP, Scrum@Scale, and SAFe.
What are the principles of Agile?
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Agile teams focus on the people involved in the project and the interactions between those people rather than on the operations or tools they use.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. Agile teams prefer to deliver functional software to the customer early and often rather than spending much time on documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Agile teams work closely with the client to deliver a product or service that meets their specifications. This is done through regular communication and collaboration rather than through formal contracts.
- Responding to change over following a plan. Agile teams are flexible and adaptable and willing to change their plans as needed. This contrasts traditional project management, where goals are often set in stone and are difficult to change.
What are some popular Agile Frameworks?
What is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile framework that helps teams deliver working software quickly and efficiently. It uses iterative development, where teams work in short cycles called sprints to deliver working software to the customer. Scrum teams are typically made up of:
- A Product Owner manages the product backlog (a list of features the customer wants to see in the product).
- A Scrum Master: facilitates the Scrum process and sees that the team follows the Scrum framework.
- The Development Team: This team is responsible for coding, testing, and deploying the features that are defined in the sprint backlog.
What are Scrum activities?
- Planning: Agile teams create a high-level plan outlining the work. This work is then broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
- Estimating: Agile teams estimate the size of the tasks in the plan. This helps them track the project’s progress and identify potential risks.
- Sprints: Agile teams work in short cycles called sprints. Each sprint typically lasts two weeks.
- Daily Scrum/Stand-up meetings: Agile teams hold daily stand-up meetings to discuss their progress toward the sprint goal, plan the day’s work, and identify improvement areas:
- Retrospectives: Agile teams hold retrospectives at the end of each sprint to reflect on their performance and identify improvement areas.
- Delivery Value: Agile teams create the features defined in the sprint backlog.
- Testing: Agile teams test the features that are created.
- Deployment: Agile teams deploy the features that are tested to production.
- Feedback: Agile teams get feedback from the customer on the deployed features.
- Continuous improvement: Agile teams constantly look for ways to improve their processes and products.
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a framework that helps teams visualize their work and manage their workflow. Kanban is based on visualizing work, limiting work-in-progress, and managing flow. Kanban teams typically use a Kanban board to “see” their work. The Kanban board is a diagram of the work the team needs to complete, the ongoing work, and the work the team has finished. Kanban teams also use limits on work-in-progress to ensure they are not overloading themselves. Finally, Kanban teams use metrics to measure their workflow and find improvement areas.
Extreme Programming (XP)
XP is a comprehensive framework that improves software quality, flexibility, and maintainability. XP is based on the idea of continuous improvement and the practices of test-driven development, pair programming, refactoring, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. XP teams are typically made up of a small number of developers who work closely together. The XP team uses various practices to improve their software’s quality, flexibility, and maintainability.
What is Scrum@Scale?
Scrum@Scale is a scalable framework that extends the popular Scrum and Leans principles to the entire organization, enabling efficient collaboration and communication. Scrum@Scale promotes a decentralized decision-making process, empowering teams to self-organize and adapt quickly. It has two interconnected cycles:
- The Scrum Master Cycle for continuous improvement and delivery.
This cycle emphasizes cross-team collaboration, transparency, and removal of impediments. Key roles include Scrum Master, the Scrum of Scrums, and the Executive Action Team.
- The Product Owner Cycle for product alignment.
This cycle ensures product alignment and prioritization by emphasizing backlog refinement, stakeholder input, and value delivery. Key roles include the Product Owners, the MetaScrum, and the Executive MetaScrum.
Scrum@Scale enables large-scale Agile transformations by addressing scaling challenges such as dependencies, resource constraints, and communication barriers and fostering innovation, quality, and a customer-centric mindset.
Scrum@Scale is the only scaled Scrum framework developed and endorsed by Dr. Jeff Sutherland. It is built on real-world experiences and proven empirical techniques used by teams and organizations around the globe to help teams accomplish “Twice the work in half the time.”
What is SAFe: Scaled Agile Framework
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a comprehensive, adaptable approach to scaling Agile methodologies across large products or enterprises. It offers a structured system for implementing Lean-Agile practices at the enterprise level. SAFe’s four configurations cater to different organizational needs:
1. Essential SAFe: Basic elements, focusing on Agile teams, program management, and portfolio alignment.
2. Large Solution SAFe: Addresses complex solutions that require multiple Agile Release Trains (ARTs).
3. Portfolio SAFe: Expands to include strategic planning, investment, and governance.
4. Full SAFe: Combines all levels for the largest enterprises. Key components include:
- Business Agility: Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions.
- DevOps and Continuous Delivery: Emphasizes automation, collaboration, and faster feedback.
- Lean Portfolio Management: Aligns strategy, funding, and execution.
- Innovation & Planning Iteration: Time reserved for innovation, learning, and continuous improvement.
SAFe promotes seven core principles derived from Lean, Agile, and Systems Thinking to guide organizations through the transformation process. By integrating these principles, SAFe encourages a culture of collaboration, adaptability, and customer-centricity, resulting in increased productivity, quality, and business outcomes.