Why Should I Choose Agile Methodology?
Software project management is a discipline where you may need to coordinate many various projects of different scope and deal with different customers who need different results. Naturally, you will not be able to use the same management methods for delivering a basic application developed by a team of four and a complex software solution which needs professionals from various departments.
Besides, most customers will require you to yield results along the project, so that they can see what kind of product they will get at the end. To be a successful project manager, you need to master different software delivery methodologies. Basically, there are two of them widely used in software development: Waterfall and Agile. In this article, we will concentrate on the Agile methods, as we consider them more flexible and feedback-oriented. Let’s see what they are.
Agile Manifesto was put together back in 2001 by a group of developers utilizing different delivery methods. Eleven years after, a study by the Standish group was conducted showing that Agile methods yield successful projects three times more often compared to the traditional Waterfall projects. The gist of Agile trade is to continually develop shippable software pieces to your client. Along the way, your client monitors progress, gives feedback and supervises direction of your work.
Unlike Waterfall methodology which takes a rigid, sequential structure, Agile methods are more flexible and involve constant cooperation with the client.
Agile methods are based on the following fundamental principles:
- People and communication over processes and tools;
- Providing software over excessive documentation;
- Focusing on customer’s feedback over following a precise plan;
- Incremental and iterative delivery over one-piece delivery.
Different as they may be, all Agile methods follow these basic foundations. Definitely, Agile methodology is only a tool, not a panacea. But it will give you a solid ground for your software development skills.
There are a few basic Agile methods which can be used for different kinds of projects:
1. Extreme Programming (XP) focuses on the high level of interaction and cooperation between the client and the software development team. The customer prioritizes the most relevant functions of the future product. And the development team iteratively implements these functions through code reviews, refactoring, testing, and integration. Shippable software pieces are delivered very frequently, in some cases once a week.
2. Feature-Driven Development. A software development team concentrates on modeling separate features and delivering them as a build in short-term iterations. Thus, large software projects are broken down into smaller tasks which are repeatedly delivered to the client.
Which is the best Agile method? There is no answer to this question. Each method suits best for its own purposes, and you will have to select one carefully according to your resources, client’s needs and professionalism of your team members.
In order to successfully implement Agile methods, you have to make sure your team is well-trained and understands the basic principles of the given model. Constant interaction among all the project members is essential in any Agile project. Your team members will constantly need to take decisions and share their opinions.
And naturally, Agile methodology does not work without proper project management. With different teams working on a large software project, a successful manager must be able to provide proper coordination between all the actors and glue the results of their activities.