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The Agile Manifesto has gained a lot of popularity amongst the software development teams. Agile development practices are helping organizations deliver the desired value and outcomes at a rapid pace. Agile teams are more productive than traditional development teams since they create higher quality products while satisfying the customers more consistently by meeting their expectations. It is one of the main reasons why businesses are now keen on adopting Agile best practices in project management.
How Is Agile Different From Traditional Software Development?
When it comes to traditional software development, it follows the classic waterfall methodology.
That means, teams, develop a detailed project plan first and then launch it into a linear, stepwise development process. They have very rigid deadlines and zero deviations. If you need to change something later, you can’t or if you do, it costs you a lot.
This is the part where Agile teams come into the picture — rather than planning the entire project upfront, Agile teams focus on planning continuously throughout the project, providing you scope for making constant adjustments as and when required.
It is yet another reason organizations are turning to Agile best practices in project management. Other benefits of adopting the agile mindset in software development include:
- Most organizations are operating in dynamic market environments. To adapt as per these changing markets, they need Agile teams that can work within short development cycles and help them achieve a faster time-to-market.
- Agile teams are gaining momentum quickly in this tech-driven space since they are more innovative, adaptable, and responsive to rapidly changing conditions than traditional teams do.
- Agile teams can potentially deliver tested, working software in just two to four-week iterations.
- Agile teams use efficient, collaborative methods to produce frequent, high-quality, sustainable releases.
Wondering how is that possible? Well, an Agile team generally comprises three to ten highly skilled people who work together full-time in close proximity. Every team member represents a diverse functional area, such as programmers, designers, testers, analysts, technical writers, etc.
Most importantly, the team collaborates with a learning attitude, growing with every iteration and continuously adding to the best Agile practices list that guides them further.
To Understand Agile Best Practices, We Must First Understand the 12 Agile Principles
The first step towards understanding the Agile best practices in project management is to know about the Agile principles. We have 12 guiding principles for Agile software development, laying their foundation on the Agile Manifesto’s core values.
Half of these principles are related to the human side of software development because it is not processes and plans but the interactions between people that make for successful product delivery. Here are the 12 Agile principles:
- Satisfying the customer must be your highest priority. Use early and continuous delivery of valuable software to achieve this.
- Welcome changing requirements, irrespective of when they arise in development. Agile processes are about harnessing change to provide customers a competitive advantage.
- Make sure you deliver working software frequently, trying to keep the timescale as short as possible.
- Ensure that business people and developers are working daily in collaboration throughout the project.
- Focus on building result-driven projects around motivated individuals. Put your faith in them and give them the environment and support they need.
- Use face-to-face conversation to convey information since it is the most efficient and effective method for the same.
- The primary measure of progress must be working, functional software.
- Remember that Agile processes promote sustainable development. Hence, make sure that everyone — users, developers, and sponsors — is able to maintain a constant pace.
- Pay proper and continuous attention to technical excellence and good design since it enhances agility.
- Simplicity is essential.
- Self-organizing teams are an ideal source of origin to score the best designs, architectures, and requirements.
- Ensure that your team shows progress, understands how to be more effective, and changes its behavior accordingly.
List of Agile Best Practices for More Efficient Software Development
Here is the Agile practices list and your complete guide to Agile best practices in project management:
Collaborate With the Customer
Customers get satisfied only when you meet their expectations and needs but software developers often fail at understanding them since they are short of mindreading. Hence, they keep coming up with new ideas to discover client expectations to deliver exactly what they seek.
Traditionally, development teams first used to record user requirements at one end of the funnel. Then, they used to deliver the product at the other end having no to zero customer interaction in between. That is how a traditional approach works.
But in an Agile team, we understand client expectations using near-constant communication. Then we collaborate on fixes and communicate all the possible options that we did not consider previously, which helps you promote creativity while improving quality.
Agile teams use time strategically by selecting the amount of work they need to do based on the available number of hours inside the team. Moreover, Agile teams deploy the task in iterations, allowing the team to decide what it can do based on its capabilities and experience from the previous iterations.
Follow a Customer-Oriented Approach
Agile methodology values customer collaboration to a greater extent and provides all the information required to the clients while keeping them posted on the progress of the development process. It ensures that there is constant communication in internal teamwork, so everything runs smoothly.
Work Together Daily
Equating a group of people who work together in a team is a common pitfall among Agile teams. Teams and teamwork can only contribute to successful projects if they collaborate as a cohesive unit and work in sync.
Hence, you need to ensure that your team has seamless communication, coordination, the balance of team member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion.
Take Care of Product Backlogs
Big project tasks often require you to cut them into small pieces. A product manager/product owner and team members are supposed to determine how much work they need to complete each task, followed by prioritizing all the issues based on the customer’s business needs.
A product backlog can be related to product features, possible bugs, knowledge acquisition, and technical work. You need to resolve or address these issues depending on their business value. The higher the importance is, the sooner developers are supposed to work on it.
Handle User Stories
In Agile, first, you need to describe the functionality of communication with customers and then the product’s position in a very specific way. A user story in Agile project management refers to a unit of work that you have to complete in one Sprint. It can be description, acceptance criteria, or estimation of the time.
If a user story is too complex, product managers break it up into smaller pieces, just like they do in a product backlog.
Define Agile Roles
Another popular practice amongst Agile best practices in project management is defining different roles with different names. Generally, we can have the following roles in Agile development:
- Team Lead, Project Lead, and Scrum Master
- Team members
- Scrum Product Owner and On-site XP customer
Not only this, but Agile teams can also have extended members for technical or domain expertise.
Value Stream Analysis and The Importance of Timeboxing
Here, we have two principles based on the Agile methodology:
- Defining the product as per the user stories (which are related to the analysis of the business)
- Defining dependencies between technical functionalities and the business.
Timeboxing technique allies development teams to address various tasks in a smaller time frame.
For instance, sprints can last for two weeks to one month based on the specified timeframes. While, on the other hand, scrum meetings are stiff, and they usually last about 15 minutes with set deliverables and deadlines.
Run Scrum Meetings
Conduct Scrum meetings, i.e., a daily short morning meeting with your team. Usually, a product manager or a product owner conducts the meeting and ensures the presence of the whole team while playing the role of Scrum Master to discuss various things, such as what you did yesterday, to define the current goals and reveal any obstacles, etc.
Conduct Sprint Demo Meetings Retrospective Meetings
Once you are ready with a fully functional product, you can conduct a sprint demo meeting to explain to the client how the product works. Such meetings are important because they help you seek approval from the customer, who will acknowledge the features, giving a green flag that they were made as per their expectations and requirements. If they ask for some changes, you can implement the same.
After sprint demo meetings, you need to conduct a final gathering of the last iterative development, where you have your entire team elaborate on the quality of work, tools used, etc., to the client.
Ensure Integration and Test-Driven Development
As soon as the code is ready and up to date, you need to get it verified before it is connected with the old code to simplify the testing of new user stories.
Sessions start with writing programming adaptive tests in a test-driven development approach. Then, they are preceded by unit tests. In the end, you are supposed to write the code specific to the user stories.
Form Self-Organizing Teams
Self-organizing teams have the flexibility to choose how they will execute the work and who will be responsible for the same. Such teams divide the work into increments and deploy it in iterations. Management plays no role in assigning tasks or looking over their shoulders; it puts entire faith in the team to make the right decisions.
For this arrangement to work, you need to ensure that each team member is confident in their work and they all are committed to pushing through the most difficult, frustrating blocks. Teams share responsibility and accountability for everything good or bad that happens, fostering the feeling of teamwork and generating the desired results quickly.
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The Bottom Line
Scaling Agile turns out to be more effective when you apply Agile methods without bothering about how large or complex the project is. And an ideal way to get there is to understand Agile best practices in project management. We hope this Agile practice list helps.
To sum up, some of the most successful Agile practices include keeping teams small, setting value-based business priorities, sticking to short iterations, engaging users in refining requirements, and getting rapid feedback from customers. For us, at Third Rock Techkno, it is the core values and guiding principles we follow as a part of our work that makes Agile methods sustainable.
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