You’ve probably heard about Agile from most, if not every IT industry but, do you actually know what it means and what it implies for businesses?
What is Agile?
Agile is a project management methodology that focuses on producing the best results in order to keep companies competitive within the market. It helps teams maintain their attention on the rapid delivery of business value. Agile works as an umbrella that encompasses other processes such as Scrum, Crystal, Kanban, amongst others. All of the different methodologies in Agile are based on twelve principles and the Agile manifesto.
Benefits of the Agile methodology
Agile reduces the time to market while also increasing the team’s efficiency and productivity. The technique consists of regular testing within the project’s cycle in order to know if the product is working through its development and make the necessary changes as it evolves. Through this, it is possible to obtain a highly valuable result. It is characterized by its transparency, as it allows the clients to be involved in the creative process and it focuses on the values and users that characterize each business. Here are some exemplary cases from different companies that have applied the methodology.
weKnow and Agile
Here at weKnow we use the Agile methodology in most, if not all, of our projects. We have chosen the Scrum Agile process.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a robust yet simple to understand development framework. As defined by its co-creators Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in their Scrum Guide:
Scrum: A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.
It consists of Scrum Teams with clearly defined roles, rules and artifacts that contribute to the framework’s success and usage. It has well established rules that bind together each element within the process and it defines the way they interact. It focuses its essence in small, highly flexible and adaptive teams.
What is it useful for?
Initially developed for managing and developing products, Scrum is now used to develop software, networks of interacting function, in schools, governments, marketing, products, services and even in people’s day to day life since it has proven itself to be extremely useful in dealing with complexity.
Scrum Theories and Values
Scrum is founded on empiricism which emphasizes that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions on the information that is available at the moment. As mentioned in the Scrum Guide, it uses an iterative and incremental approach in order to optimize predictability and control risk. Commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are the five Scrum values that uphold the three pillars: transparency, inspection and adaptation.
Transparency focuses on making the compelling aspects of the process visible to everyone involved in the outcome. The purpose of inspection is to detect unwanted variances and correct them at the source but without having the inspection interfere with the actual work. From the inspection comes adaptation, which occurs when the outcome seems unacceptable and needs to be fixed as soon as it is detected.
The Scrum teams are self organizing and cross functional and each consist of a Product Owner, the Development Team and the Scrum Master. The Product Owner is the person in charge of managing the Product Backlog which involves organizing the items to achieve set goals and optimizing the value of the outcome.
The Development Team consists of professionals who work to produce a “done” product after each Sprint. The teams are characterized for being self-organizing, cross-functional, and with accountability that belongs to the whole group. Teams should not have less than three people but no more than nine since this can cause coordination issues that might slow down the creative process.
The Scrum Master promotes and supports Scrum as established in the Scrum Guide and makes sure everyone understands its theory, practices, rules and values. Scrum masters not only help the team but also help the outsiders understand how to interact properly with the team in order to maximize the value of the process.
The heart of Scrum is the sprint. These are blocks of work that usually have a 2 week duration. Each one of them involves a list of tasks that were determined during the Sprint Planning. The duration of each Sprint should not be over a month long, since having a distant horizon may increase its complexity as well as its risks. One Sprint follows the other one and each one consists of a Sprint planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the Sprint Review, and the Retrospective. The planning should answer two main questions: What can be done this Sprint? And how will the chosen work get done?
It is important that during each Sprint no changes should be made that could endanger the Sprint Goal and the quality goals should not decrease. Only the Product Owner, under the influence of the stakeholders, the Development Team or the Scrum Master may cancel a Sprint. Their cancellation is very unusual since it consumes resources but, they may occur when the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete.
The Daily Scrum, also known as “Daily Standup”, is a 15 minute daily event for the Development Team. It is held at the same time and place every day and its main goal is to optimize the teams performance. It improves communication, reduces the amount of unnecessary and external meetings, promotes quick decision making, eliminates inconveniences, increases the team’s knowledge, and helps inspect and adapt to the needs of the client. The purpose of the meeting is for every member to address the following questions:
What was done in the last 24 hours?
What will be done in the next 24 hours?
What are the blockers that have been encountered (if any)?
Here at weKnow we have certified Agile and Scrum Masters that lead our team on the most efficient project management methods. We care about our clients and our projects and that is why we use Agile. If you are interested to learn more about the Scrum Guide and how we manage, don’t be a stranger; reach out to us!