Why is It Good to Implement Agile into Your Business?
Probably every person who is involved in the IT industry, at least once heard about Agile methodology, and every second, perhaps, at least once cooperated with it. Despite such prevalence and popularity, there is still a dull apprehension of Agile and its actual practical application.
In the present article, we will try to develop the theme of Agile methodology in all parts, explain all its really useful business features and also share excellent examples and tools for successful Agile implementation.
Describing complex Agile in a simple phrase
As a verbal translation, the word ‘agile’ means ‘the ability to move, think and understand very quickly’ that generally signifies a high-skilled behavior in life or in business. Besides, it is critical to say that a well-established phrase ‘Agile development’ is not entirely correct.
Agile methodology is a collective concept, including many different techniques, that provides the ability to adapt quickly to any new conditions.
The main values in Agile methodology are:
- Human relations are more important than the attitude of people to things – humanity is beyond consumerism
- The right cooperation should not be limited to the terms of the contract
- Good result is achievable only without unnecessary activities and rules
Everything sounds quite easy – but is it really easy in practice? Well, let’s have one good example: Agile methodology approach to work is actively used in the IT sphere. It is the industry where there are many different complex tasks, even soaring in the air chaotically. Therefore, all it needs to be systematized and built in a competent manner.
Usually, Agile methodology implementation looks the following way:
- Small intervals (sprints) of active cooperation of the employees (that do not exceed four weeks)
- At the end of each sprint, the customer receives the result, that is already suitable to use in his business
- During the development process, the employees cooperate closely to the customer
- The team is always ready to change the project at any stage and easily implements these changes.
With the right and competent approach to the implementation of the system, the development of any, even the most complex and energy-consuming project can turn into a well-functioning mechanism and real collaborative work.
Speaking about Agile methodology, it is impossible not to consider a variety of different practices, each of which, though having its own characteristics, supports the overall concept of Agile. We would like to learn three of the most popular techniques and compare their real features and benefits in business cases:
- XP (Extreme Programming)
- Lean & Kanban
Scrum can be rightly considered one of the favorites among all the diversity of Agile practice. It is a complex methodology system that provides the project execution at the most efficient level. Noteworthy is that the present type is characterized by some strict approach to work, and so-called ‘ability’ is observed only in relation to the needs and requirements of the customer.
Using Scrum in practice includes:
- Development of some tasks in sprints by small teams with interchangeable, but fixed composition during the time of a separate sprint.
- Each sprint has its own tasks, a list of requirements (backlogs), a fixed number of necessary meetings to discuss the current workflow and every member’s own vision of future tasks improving.
- Each sprint must end necessarily with the provision of a certain finished product to the customer.
Where Scrum can be used in a more reasonable way:
- IT outsourcing sphere at large. It is in this industry you can find a complete variety of absolutely different projects, therefore uniformity in choosing any approach to work is a good tone.
- Expansion of business, entailing an increase in the volume of project orders. The introduction of such a system will help to avoid confusion or malfunctions in any new conditions or processes. The collaboration of each team and each individual employee will be predictable and adjusted in a good way, and the implementation of any project will not have any related problems.
- Any large product that requires a special approach and attitude. No matter what sphere it is – Scrum will help you with the result achievement.
XP (or Extreme Programming)
Such part of methodologies is yet one prominent representative of Agile family. XP is characterized by the most intensive and rigorous approach to the development process and maintaining a constant high level of quality of the performed project.
Actually, there is no extreme in this practice – XP has just some its unique features that exert discipline in the entire development workflow, as follows:
- active participation in development planning and code standards implementation
- cooperation in pairs (non-stop cooperation together during the development)
- clear and fixed time frames
- constant product testing, code reviews, refactoring and experience exchange
- the simpler the design, the better
Despite such an approach, not all companies tend to implement it in their practice. Extreme Programming can be perfect for teams at some beginning levels of collaborative work (like startups, a new department in the firm or just a completely new product) to help them to stick together and act in the united stream.
Lean & Kanban techniques
Combining these two approaches into one type is not accidental: being both Agile sons, they are quite similar.
However, there is an opinion that Kanban is not supposed as the type of Agile development methodology: having formed from Lean, the technique became independent and is used not only in development but also for other purposes. Anyway, it is worth mentioning such practice because of with the main features of this methodology.
The common thing of Lean & Kanban is the active visualization of the whole working process by means of graphs, roadmaps or even bright colored stickers, where current tasks are displayed with a breakdown by time and their actuality.
Lean methodology is guided by the idea of searching for the fastest and most economical way of implementing each particular project. At the same time, any decision concerning the project should be done as late as possible.
All it looks like a paradox but Lean has its real meaning:
- all collaboration is built on complete and full-throated trust to each other
- each member is considered to be a true professional and a very productive worker, who is able to perform that part of the tasks entrusted to him, and even more.
Kanban also supports the saving of time philosophy with very rapid decision practices on the project. Unlike his parent Lean, this approach emphasizes the limitation of the number of current tasks related to the project, what has its own logic. It is better to quickly and efficiently deal with only one task and, in case of a successful finish, to proceed to the next point.
Both Kanban and Lean are perfect in the following businesses:
- Development companies with a small primary load for projects
- Young companies of different spheres in the startup phase to set up a clear action plan under uncertain conditions
- Client & Product support teams where the question of the speed of solving the problem is the most important
Furthermore, there are other types that follow the basic principles of Agile methodology, like Crystal, DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method), FDD (Feature-Driven Development), ASD (Adaptive Software Development), that have many features in common with some small differences.
To sum up, it is possible to underline the common advantages of all above Agile methodology types:
- Focus the work team on the needs and desired goals of a customer
- Simplify the structure and processes of the whole workflow.
- Provide clear timeframes
- Constant communication and operation with a customer
- Emphasize the authority of every team member
Relevant technical tools of Agile implementation
In this section we smoothly move from theory to practice – we will consider some very helpful applications and software examples of the Agile methodology introduction into your business.
Hygger can perfectly fit for Agile methodology. The interface of this program is quite plain: we can see a classical dashboard where team members see their current and actual tasks and follow them in proper time:
Also, Hygger provides a convenient roadmap function – the planning of the main goals throughout a certain period:
The app with a short name Aha! is the next one – it is a multi-functional helper for any kind of business planning and the process of product development. Here you can see the view of the app and how you can create the plan and some goals:
Also there the user can follow the necessary tasks and keep in touch with team members, customers or other related workers.
The third example of software for Agile implementation and using is the app with exotic name Asana. There are all necessary functions for teamwork in a vivid design:
Besides, in Asana users can also keep their tasks as roadmaps and monitor the execution effectiveness.
In this article we managed one almost impossible thing: we have fully opened the topic of Agile method, without using any complex definition and without adding any private cases that do not show the general picture. We suppose it is very cool.
Now you know what to do if you are fond of effective business practices and new technologies – choose the best for you and do not hesitate to try it in your business in an appropriate way. If you have some additional question related to Agile – feel comfortable to ask, and we will certainly answer it.