Complete guide on agile methods including definitions, scope of actions, and the benefits that they deliver for IT project management in companies.
Have you ever read the Agile Manifesto? It was written in February 2001 by 17 experts in computer development in order to find THE right method to develop web applications. Over time, this manifesto has inspired many developers, which led to the creation of the Agile Method, the scrum method, the Kanban method, and so on. There are many project management methodologies online and they all have one common denominator. They all tend to improve the software development cycle processes. In this article, we will take a deeper dive into this subject.
The Agile Method advocates the development and management of IT projects by placing all stakeholders at the heart of the project: customers, users, developers, web users, and all professionals involved in development. The expression "agile methods" or "agile projects", translates to the will to simplify, clarify and attribute each step of the project. What does the Agile Method bring to companies?
Before the Agile Manifesto, collaboration with the customer was mostly overlooked. Software development was done solely by the developers. The result? A website that did not respect the graphic and editorial charters of the company, was unsuitable for the business sectors, and had incomprehensible user paths...
The Agile Manifesto reflects this desire to put an end to traditional methods that are unclear or have no real hierarchical structure. Agile projects outline customer expectations more precisely and in greater detail. It is also necessary for the customer to be invested in the project and play an active role in it.
In the context of an agile method, the scrum master is present to guide the development team throughout the project. The product owner is the project manager who acts as a link between the scrum master and the customer, providing concrete and clear answers on the implementation of the project.
An agile approach tends to propose all tasks in detail within a given timeframe to the client before reaching the end of the project. Time loops (called "sprints") are linked together. They are sent separately, in the form of sequential tests, to the client, who can then identify bugs and errors to be corrected as they occur. This is the so-called scrum methodology: you have to go step by step.
Agile practices value the sending of recurring test sequences. These agile project management methods allow development teams to refine errors and quickly reach short-term goals. Using agile methods during the software development process, the customer is able to see work get done quickly and efficiently. As a result, the customer has the opportunity to refine their ideas and desires in parallel. This two-way exchange between the technical teams and the customer is at the heart of all agile methods because it brings more flexibility.
The implementation of an agile work method creates an opportunity for a project to be completed in multiple phases over a period of time. Delivering projects in one go is a thing of the past as it lacks agility and increases risks that impact customer satisfaction.
To summarize, below are the three fundamental principles that govern the agile process:
● Continuous improvement of the project. Its methodological development allows for an organized and efficient project.
● Greater flexibility. Priorities are reviewed and adapted, providing a more flexible approach to the implementation phase.
● Greater adaptation. Thanks to an iterative process, teams are able to revise and adapt projects until everyone is satisfied with the end result. As an example, software development is closely linked to the impact of each new step: is the audience decreasing? Was the update bug-free? Did it create a buzz or was it a flop with the target audience? Etc.
The Manifesto has paved the way for new ways of operating in IT project management. Here is an example of two agile methodologies:
This development method has an iterative process that takes into consideration the customer as the driving force of the project. The customer is able to go back and review each step of the project to ensure their satisfaction (this is an example of the iterative process). The programming is continuous and the project scope is built up as it goes along. This agile approach is based on 5 values: communication, simplicity, feedback, respect, and courage. The code is reviewed by two developers who work in pairs in order to optimize the coding of the website based on continuous customer feedback.
Feature-driven development was originally created by Jeff De Luca in 1997 for a bank in Singapore. Its development was primarily based on incremental and iterative software. Its system remains exactly the same as eXtreme Programming or the scrum method, except that it proposes to assign each function to a single developer. So we have an agile environment, but a classic methodology: 1 person equals 1 work task.
The agile methodology has existed for more than 20 years and is now one of the most widespread management styles. It is one of the new management methods appreciated by companies in recent years, particularly because it allows the manager to segment their work.
Do you know the waterfall model? This model is still present in companies with very precise specifications to be carried out.
The challenges of this mode? A demanding hierarchy leaves little room for error and therefore delays the project. Or to its evolution along the way, asking the stakeholders to rewrite it or to abandon it, for lack of time. As a result, the specifications are a rapidly obsolete document (like the V-cycle, which offers a development methodology that lacks flexibility).
From a management point of view, changing the management method by opting for agile teams frees the schedule from impossible constraints. Adding iterations and recurring points with the teams (developers and/or customers) brings freshness to the project.
To give a concrete example, the agile method gives space to user stories. Among other things, the employee can express an expectation about the development in progress. This offers greater agility to the manager and the developer, who adapt the methodology along the way. This agile method applies to IT as well as to all areas of project management.
Employees who benefit from agile management naturally feel more involved. Functional teams are good but teams that are listened to and feel fulfilled are better!
This is exactly what agile management favors: putting people at the heart of projects and making them the driving force. The role of the manager is to be a real conductor. They must accompany and propose solutions to their teams, explain the agile work method, set up a methodology that is followed by the entire team, adapt the method to fit the needs of the team, etc. With an agile method, the employee is at the heart of the managerial concerns. The latter thus develops:
● More satisfaction. This is simply the principle of the Agile Manifesto: to put the collaborator back into an agile project and make them feel that their work is a real added value. By reducing the amount of work that needs to be redone, they are not only intellectually stimulated every day but also more open to reworking the changes sent by the customer. Thanks to regular feedback from the scrum manager, the product owner, the customer, or their colleague, they gain flexibility and are able to move forward with the project and limit the possibility of error.
● The right to express one's opinion. Many employees sometimes do not have the opportunity to change their minds along the way. This is where the agile method comes in.
If we take the example of very detailed specifications, it can hinder the flexibility of the project.
There are many reasons why an employee might change his or her mind. It is possible that the application will be less impactful once developed, that new, faster features appear on the web, or that the concept needs to be revised because of a third-party event, etc. Changing your mind is often a luxury, but it is no longer a luxury in the context of agile approaches. Changing your mind offers more scalability to the project under development.
● A controlled budget. Have you heard of the "Product Backlog" from the agile method? It's the prioritization of tasks in each sequential loop, according to the value it brings to the user. By making a precise segmentation and prioritization of the tasks to be done, you can also better plan your budget. An agile structure makes it possible to quickly identify whether the budget of the agile project is sufficient or should be revised upwards. This provides relief for the employee, who has the necessary agility to warn his manager if the budget is insufficient. The manager then has time to react and review the budget on their side. As a result, the agile method frees the employee from the stress of budget management. This is an aspect of the project that is not to be neglected due to the stress it can cause to the entire team.
● More involvement and transparency. Through the agile method, project management becomes faster and more agile. The employee is aware of the progress of the agile project thanks to the numerous meetings. Their work is thus valued every week, thanks to the planning of the iterations. We can also speak here of lean management in an agile method, that is to say management based on three criteria: quality, delay, and cost.
Iterative development has taken more than one form since the 2000s. It is possible to use several agile approaches, both in project management and in management. The speed of delivery of classic projects is a thing of the past!
An agile team allows one to be more efficient, offer the necessary space to the collaborator, to have time to complete each step of the agile project serenely, and communicate more. Do you want to learn about agile methods? It is possible to train in the agile model by consulting our catalog of professional training courses. We give you all the keys to train your manager in agile methods and develop the operational agility of your teams.
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