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Agile Project Management

All About It, and a Little More
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Agile was embraced by many companies in recent years, and will continue to be welcomed by new and old ones for the foreseeable future. It allows to make the process of product development faster and more efficient, while reacting to sometimes rapidly changing project requirements and market needs. Overall, Agile helps to optimize project delivery and to manage priorities.

A Little Background

Though some roots of Agile can be traced to the 1950s, its direct history began in the 1990s. People needed to create a set of tools to optimize their project development. Even then, the market was extremely large and the demand for software development was so big that IT companies could not handle it properly. Clients waited for years for their product to be developed, imagine what was happening back then, on the dawn of internet and tech, just picture what could happen in a year, two, or even three years. It was called delivery lag, and it could really take companies three years to develop a piece of software. Some were cancelled halfway through, and some were not up to the standards anymore, because so much time has passed. Requirements, software, systems and all of that won’t be the same even in a few months, so the need for the faster development processes was immense.

The Birth of Agile

Eventually, the 90s led to the great breakthrough in the beginning of 2001. Jon Kern and other enthusiasts held a meeting that led to the birth of what we know today as Agile, but at that time, it was not called that, and they stuck to the term lightweight instead. They were seeking methods to develop software in a quick and efficient way - fast delivery was their key aim at that time. It enabled users to get their products faster, and helped teams to gather more feedback, creating a loop of more feedback and more changes in short periods of time.

Diving Right In

Now, when we know a little bit more about Agile’s history, we can dive in its present. Agile project management provides companies with the ability to manage projects with more flexibility and efficiency. According to Agile Manifesto that was created by aforementioned Jon Kern and the team of enthusiasts, there are four main values of Agile:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

The manifesto stresses that while there is a value to the items on the right, we have to value items on the left more. These values are being embraced by companies all over the world, and we are following them too here at Movadex. The most valuable lesson that can be learned from Agile, is that responding to changes is the most essential thing in software development.

Core Principles of Agile

The following principles are the core values behind the Agile management:

  1. Customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software;
  2. Changing requirements are welcome in all stages of development;
  3. Working software must be delivered frequently;
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project;
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done;
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation;
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress;
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely;
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility;
  10. Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential;
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams;
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

How to Manage Projects Using Agile

While being a set of principles and practices, Agile itself does not manage your projects, but relies on frameworks like Scrum to do that.

Scrum is based on a cycle of prototyping, testing, analyzing and refining. It’s core principle lies in understanding that sudden changes can’t be predicted in the process of creating a new piece of software. Client’s needs can and will likely change, problems, bugs and other unpredictable things may appear. Companies use Scrum to treat these problems.

Work organization is based on sprints - it can be a week, or a month. When the sprint ends, comes the review where the team looks back on everything that has been done, especially what has been done good and what can and should be improved in the next one. This way, mistakes will not be repeated over and over, and good practices will be used in the future.

The Agile Cycle

Every Agile framework is based on cycles, that means that it is predictable and simple. After finishing the last step, the development team goes over the whole cycle again until they finish the project. The main steps of the cycle are:

  1. Requirements and plans - the scope of work to be done is decided on;
  2. Roadmap creation - designing features that the developers will work on;
  3. Develop and test - developers work on the features;
  4. Review - reviewing the work done in the sprint;
  5. Adjust - adjust the objectives and jump to the next sprint.

Benefits

Agile helps companies to manage their projects easier, creating a loop of repeatable steps that make the pace with which the team is going is even. Continuous feedback and retrospection helps to mitigate bad practices and promote good ones. Other benefits include:

  1. Predictability - the product becomes more predictable, as the process relies on the constant feedback and focuses on the end product.
  2. Control - the project itself becomes more controllable; you will be able to track the budget and processes more clearly;
  3. Customer-orientation - constant feedback loop ensures that all of the customer's feedback and requirements will be heard.
  4. Changing requirements - due to the fast pace of most of the project, technologies, and market, requirements are likely to change. Agile welcomes the change, and helps not to lose the pace and implement them in the process;
  5. Quality Assurance - testing is a crucial part of Agile development process, so you can be sure that the end product is well-tested.

Here at Movadex, to ensure the best quality of end-product we use SCRUM framework. We always make sure to follow the loop and communicate with the client as much as possible. Communication is the most important part in making successful projects, and I can't stress enough how crucial is it to have a continuous dialogue and feedback to ensure that every feature is implemented and working properly.