Agile Methods offer a spin on the traditional project management model, in which product development is divided into well-defined stages.Agile Methodologies, on the other hand, have short iterations where the result is measured according to a finished product.
One of the biggest challenges for anyone beginning a project – whether it is related to the development of a product, software or anything else – is ensuring that the project is executed correctly, and that the final delivery is consistent with the initial proposal.
Agile methodologies were devised precisely with the idea of facilitating this process in mind.
It can be extremely challenging to keep a team aligned, convey messages clearly and maintain focus on what was defined at the project’s start, and these tasks often go beyond good management alone.
This explains why more and more companies are relying on Agile Methods, such as Scrum and Lean, to make their output more assertive and efficient.
The agile delivery model is based on iterative and incremental cycles, which lead to greater flexibility and adaptability. One important feature is the inspection and adaptation of cycles and iterations, focused on generating continuous improvement for teams and processes.
The Agile Manifesto
In 2001, a group of people met to discuss these new approaches to project management, and created the so-called Agile Manifesto, formalizing the existence of methodologies and establishing their characteristic principles.
The most important principles guiding the application of an Agile Method in this document are:
- Communication: individuals and the interaction between them, more than processes and tools;
- Practicality: working software rather than cumbersome documentation;
- Alignment of expectations and collaboration: collaboration with the client and project members rather than contract negotiation;
- Adaptability and flexibility: responding to change rather than following a set plan.
Six types of Agile Methods
Scrum and Kanban polarize the global use of Agile Methods, but in other applications everyone has their own approach. We have summarized below some of the most used and known methods:
The Kanban system is one of the simplest Agile Methods, and one of the most-used by companies. Kanban users create a board (which can be physical, like a whiteboard, or virtual, which can be created using a flowchart maker for free) and divide it into three columns, organized as follows:
- To do: all the tasks to be done during a given project or time interval;
- Doing: all the demands being made by specific people at a specific time;
- Done: tasks that have already been completed, delivered and validated by the team.
The system is simple, but the whole team needs to be engaged for it to work properly. The process requires constant monitoring of the tasks being carried out, as well as their progress between columns.
Scrum is one of the most popular Agile Methodologies, to the extent that it is often confused with the concept itself. Working with Scrum requires a broad understanding of your team, and well-defined roles for everyone involved.
The Product (or Project) Owner is key. This person represents the interests of the final user or customer, and will determine – together with others – what should be part of the product in terms of functionality, before creating a list in order of priority, known as a backlog.
After that, tasks will be distributed among the Scrum Team, and Sprints – development time intervals, lasting no more than four weeks – begin.
At the end of each Sprint, the team pasues to review the activities that were developed, to check whether everything was done according to plan, and whether anything needs to be redone or adapted. Then it’s on to the next Sprint, until the entire backlog is complete and the product is ready for delivery.
Among other things, Lean is focused on the efficient identification and elimination of waste within an organization, or during the execution of a project. In this approach, only the necessary resources are used to carry out the work, with an emphasis on reducing costs and the complexity of tasks, improving deliveries, increasing productivity and sharing information.
Anyone who has ever had to set goals for their business has probably heard about this method. Smart is an excellent way to create more realistic and attainable goals for your company – or for yourself. Bear in mind the principles of this methodology, which correspond to each of the letters in its name:
- S – for Specific: first, your goal needs to be clear and very specific. It should address only one point at a time and not leave room for misinterpretation;
- M – for Measurable: second, your goal needs to be measurable and quantifiable. Remember to always set exact and numerical goals that can really prove that your goal has been achieved;
- A – for Attainable: the goals you set must be challenging, but they must be achievable, taking into account the established time and current conditions of the company;
- R – Relevant: it’s no use having a goal if reaching it does not generate any impact for you or your company. When defining your goals, look for relevant points and be careful with ego metrics;
- T – for Time-related: when establishing a goal, it is very important that it has a maximum deadline to be achieved. That way, you avoid procrastination and can better measure whether or not the goal has been achieved.
XP (Extreme Programming)
Extreme Programming is an Agile Methodology whose core values ??are communication, simplicity, feedback, courage and respect. It is an excellent approach for small teams that are constantly changing in scope – and it is always good to remember that XP was “born” before the Agile Manifesto.
FDD (Feature Driven Development)
Feature Driven Development is an Agile Methodology that is guided by feature development. FDD includes two phases in the development of a feature: design and construction.
Executing big projects is part of everyday life for most professionals, and finding ways to make your processes simpler and more efficient, including the Agile Methodologies, is essential to succeed.