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  • Alessandro Fantini

Agile methodology, what does it mean?

Aggiornamento: 8 apr 2021

Respond appropriately to changes, without being overwhelmed by them, exploiting them as a competitive advantage.


Quando è nato il metodo Agile?


It all began in 2001 when a group of developers decided to come together in search of a design solution to cope with the fast and unstoppable advance of New Economy also called Net Economy.


We are in the full development of the modern software industry, digital and the web are building new economic assets globally, the economy is evolving from "static" to "dynamic".

More and more companies related to electronic commerce are born; these are the years of Google, Amazon, Yahoo, the market is expanding its horizons and with them, it's way of interacting with its potential customers.


Everything that until that day was of ordinary programming in the development of a software example, in this new scenario dominated by constant socio-economic changes no longer finds its place.



Have you ever heard of the Waterfall Methodology?


In this methodology, at the beginning of the project, a precise and ordered list of the functions that the software must have is defined, these premises are based on an analysis also preceding the development phase.

Technical characteristics, processing times, and costs are also based on this list.



The Waterfall Problem


This waterfall approach only works when working in a context with a low level of change and innovation.

If during development, the context evolves, for example: business models, market regulations, surely the software/product will also be obsolete, no longer responding to certain market questions/requirements.


Now we extend this vision to all sectors that need business and strategic planning: one of the predictable variants is the advancement of technology, and then there are all those totally unpredictable variables, which can in an instant upset your market and your business; we think of an economic or climatic crisis, of a socio-political change, these variables are able to totally change the cards on the table and upset your company.


Today it is there for all to see, we are experiencing it in every area, the pandemic from Covid 19 has changed the rules of the market by drawing a great dividing line between the companies that are able to respond to the new demand and those that are left behind. 'innovation.


A further problem with the Cascade Method is in the value produced.

The quality is defined in correspondence with the initial requirements, without considering the value that that product brings in the context for which it was created.

The software works great but is now totally useless. It is already obsolete.


Every slightest variation, in the Cascade development, can cause damage.

The changes both in the market and in the organization within the company are a real spanner in the works.


And that's why the Agile approach was born


Let's go back to 2001 and our programmers gathered with one purpose in mind: to solve this generation gap. In those days of fervent brainstorming and market analysis, a manifesto was created called Manifesto for Agile Development , which you can see by clicking on the name, and which I report below:


The principles on which the Agile method is based are:


1. The iterative development.


2. The incremental release.


3. The possibility of change in progress.


From this innovation perspective, it is possible to:


- Put the customer/stakeholders as an active part in the process.

- Redirect the project according to the goal.

- Reduce time and costs.

- Experiment and collect feedback from the first stage of development.

- Be flexible in modifying avoiding delays.

- Minimize the possibility of errors after delivery.




Around the Manifesto of Agile Methodology, various frameworks based on the practical application of these principles have developed over the years.


The SCRUM framework is among the most famous thanks to its proven agility and its perfect integration with Design Thinking.



What is SCRUM?

The word SCRUM comes from a term used in the game of rugby, it means "scrum", that is the moment in which all the players are focused on a single goal: to bring the ball to the goal.



A metaphor that fully expresses the work of the Team in a holistic way, where the goal is pursued all together during the entire development phase.


Scrum is a process that is part of the AGILE method whose goal is to obtain the maximum value in the shortest time.


It is based on what are called SPRINT, that is, efforts aimed at achieving certain objectives.

Usually, each Sprint has a duration, a maximum of 30 days, at the end of which the development team is able to submit to the customer an immediate value and functionality.


It is a framework, based on the empirical control of processes, according to which, on the one hand, knowledge derives from experience and, on the other, decisions are based on what is known.

For this reason, we speak of an iterative process with an incremental approach that optimizes the predictability and control of risk Sprint after Sprint.


Today, to respond to the market, it is necessary to follow a methodology that CREATES IMMEDIATE VALUE, not only at the end of the development.



Scrum Agile method
Scrum Process

The SCRUM method is based on three principles:

  • transparency

  • inspection

  • adaptation

All the information is collected, the action sprints are divided, planned, and organized.


The main roles


1. Product Owner

Represents the customer or stakeholders, knows all the requirements of the product, has the aim of maximizing the value of the product and the work done by the development team:

  • Define the characteristics.

  • Decides the timing.

  • For each Sprint he reviews characteristics and priorities.

  • Accept or reject the results obtained.


2. Scrum Master

It is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the activities and execution of the process by eliminating obstacles.

He is a key figure as he works as a coach and problem solver.


Every day he meets briefly with the team (Daily Scrum).

And at the end of each Sprint, he holds an evaluation meeting with the team (Sprint Retrospective) to discuss progress and draw conclusions.


His task is to help and increase the level of knowledge of the team and increase internal motivation.



3. Team Scrum = Cross-functional team

It consists of no more than 9 elements.

They have complete autonomy over the organization and distributed tasks.

There are no fixed roles, each member must be able to exchange tasks with another member, it is a job between experts, and as such they must have equal skills. They are responsible for organizing priorities into tasks to be completed in order to complete that particular Sprint.



The main phases that make up the Scrum:


Backlog Item:

In this first phase, the Product Owner compiles a list called Product Backlog which includes all the requisites necessary for the realization of the project: corrections, new implementations, improvements, etc.


It is responsible for its content, for its elements based on their respective priorities


Events:


Sprint planning:

Each Sprint has a maximum duration of 30 days.

The Product Owner presents the Product Backlog to the Scrum Team and the Scrum Master, describing the most important items and the goal to be achieved in the next Sprint.

At the end of the meeting, the Scrum Master compiles the Sprint Backlog.


Daily Scrum:

It is a fixed appointment, every day at the same time the Scrum Master and the Team meet for a maximum of 20 minutes. In this meeting, the goal is to eliminate any possible obstacles that could slow down the work.

  • What have you done since the last meeting?

  • What will you do now until the next meeting?

  • Is there anything preventing you from doing what you have planned?

Three simple questions help participants to have a general and at the same time, detailed vision of how they are proceeding, eliminating any problems that arose in the previous phase and that could lack the next phase.


Finished Work:


Each Sprint ends with a demonstration, during which the clients, the company management, and the whole team are present. The project is presented with a purpose, to create a starting point for the next Sprint.


Sprint Review

A meeting at the end of the Sprint to assess whether the set goal has been achieved and with what results. The Scrum Team, the Scrum Master, and the client who will see the work done up to that Sprint participate.


Sprint Retrospective

A retrospective analysis where the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team participate, serves to evaluate what to continue doing and what to stop doing, what to improve for the next sprint to achieve even more efficient performance.



The added value:

This interactive and smart methodology allows for immediate answers, generating value throughout the creation and development phase.


It is a vision that leads to the optimization of each resourche:

The speed of execution with less waste of resources contributes to a better relationship with the customer and to his greater final satisfaction.


Empowerment of the team, showing in real-time the effectiveness of the work done with consequent empowerment.


It allows management to more easily align with the business, with efficient planning and monitoring, allowing immediate resolution of any problems by providing a clear overview of the overall status of the project.

This leads to multiple possibilities of correction and optimization of the strategic lines.



Choosing to change approach, abandoning the old design habits, can prove to be fundamental, bringing results in much shorter times, at much lower costs. The internal discussion of the team and the external feedback of the customer at each stage of development are an added value that gives competitiveness to the product or service offered.





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