If you’re considering a career in tech, chances are you’ve heard the term ’Agile’ being thrown around.
But what is agile methodology, how does it work and why is the industry frothing it? We did a deep dive into all things Agile and have broken it down into what it is, how it works (and when it doesn’t work), and why it’s the industry’s favourite way of working.
What is Agile methodology?
‘Agile’ describes the ability to create and respond to change so it’s easy to see why teams who work in this way would do well in the hyper-fast paced industry that is tech. But is it just about getting things done perfectly, and at lightning speed, 10x developer style? Actually, no.
While agile development or agile project management tends to get a product to the public faster than the traditional ’waterfall’ gold standard, these products are arguably less locked or static than their waterfall-born predecessors and that’s exactly the point.
Formally developed in 2001 by 17 software developers who felt too restricted by waterfall‘s rigid, linear development process, agile is a mindset as well as what’s called an ’iterative‘ methodology or framework. Teams go through constant cycles or ‘sprints’ of creating, testing and revising at a fast yet sustainable pace until they reach a point they’re happy, privileging action over admin and always being open to change. New ideas can be brought into the mix at any stage giving the development journey a dynamic fluidity which could see the end product being totally different from what was envisaged in the beginning stages.
How Agile works
Agile is an umbrella term that sits over several different frameworks which include Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Adaptive Project Framework (APF), Extreme Project Management (XPM), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Feature Driven Development (FDD) and more.
Each methodology brings a slightly different flavour to the development process. Kanban, for example, is more visual. If you’ve ever used Trello to track the flow of a project, you’ve already used Kanban without realising it. Others focus on team dynamics (XPM), sprints run by a ‘scrum master’ (Scrum), expecting the unexpected (AFP) and a blended approach (FDD). Which agile framework is best depends on the specifics of the project and your team dynamic.
When Agile doesn’t work
Speaking of, agile won’t suit all teams, not initially anyway. Despite tech being an industry that’s built on constant evolution, some businesses and teams aren’t ready for the freeform nature of agile, finding a sense of stability and support in traditional linear development frameworks. Teams that tend to be siloed, come up against with communication blocks or have team members who don’t feel confident enough to take full ownership of their work may struggle to adopt agile frameworks.
Agile methodology: the industry pick
Rather than spending years in the initial development phase, agile teams create and go to market with a minimum viable product (MVP) which is continuously evaluated against the feedback and finessed accordingly. This willingness to improve a product in real time means teams can launch their products quicker, leveraging the first mover advantage, and using real life data combined with a cross-functional and collaborative team approach to quickly morph and reshape the product based on consumer and industry needs.