There are always new and different ways of software development. To stay relevant and efficient, it's important for software developers to be informed about all the different varieties. The Agile Method of software development is widely accepted across teams. However, there are different processes within the Agile Method that are more or less appropriate for different projects. Below we break down the main differences between two popular forms of Agile: Kanban versus Scrum.
The basis of agile software development is that it can adapt over the course of a project. Instead of in-depth planning at the beginning of a project, agile methodologies allow for feedback and change. There are 12 core principles of the Agile Method that reiterate the idea of flexibility including:
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage
Working software is the primary measure of progress
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly
The main focus of agile is to produce a well-functioning product. So, in order to get there, companies enforce frequent face-to-face communication, teamwork, and accountability. Within the realm of the agile method, there are other varieties of software development including Kanban and Scrum. You should choose between the methods depending on what kind of software that your team is working on at the time.
Inspired by the Toyota Production System and Lean Manufacturing, the Kanban method follows visual queues to frame the development processes. The processes are adjusted based on what to produce, when to produce, and how much to produce. Kanban promotes small scale changes to already implemented processes so that developers can overlay the method on top of established workflows. As the Kanban blog explains: “Kanban is a technique for managing a software development process in a highly efficient way.”
One of the most popular frameworks for the Agile Method, Scrum manages complicated software development. The method follows a set of rules that never change, including the roles of developers and the processes they use. These processes include “sprints.” Sprints are fixed-length iterations that usually span from one-two weeks. This structure allows for accountability, project visibility, and flexibility.
Kanban Versus Scrum
Both Kanban and Scrum help to simplify difficult developmental processes by breaking them down into smaller, more comprehensible parts. But, each method has its positives and negatives. Scrum is more rigid than Kanban. Scrum requires teams to adopt a completely new way of developing software. Everyone will have to learn about the ceremonies, specific roles, and the iterations. Whereas with Kanban, teams will more or less be able to follow the same framework they are accustomed to. When it comes down to it, there is no real winner in the fight Kanban versus Scrum. It all depends on your team and the project you’re working on. Both methods are efficient and successful and it should be up to you to decide which you enjoy implementing more. At Number8, we all work to stay on top of the latest news in software development. Because we follow the agile method, we deliver top quality products. To learn more about the methods that we use, read our informational page here. And give us a call today at (502) 890-7665 for help with your latest project!
[caption id="attachment_3619" align="alignleft" width="415"] An example chart of an IT team's velocity.[/caption] A core aspect of agile methodology is the concept of velocity. Velocity is determined through the sum of the estimates of delivered features per iteration. It refers to the amount of backlog a scrum team can handle during a sprint period. This quickly becomes essential to agile teams as it helps plan for future projects and estimate completion times. It is also helpful in determining which specific teams and methods are more productive.
Ways to Enhance Your Team's Velocity
Enhancing velocity, and therefore increasing a team’s capability to produce high-quality work, is a main objective for IT companies. Below we have listed a few ways to help improve your team’s velocity:
Set Goals- Even as agile method allows for adaptive practices, it does not mean that a team should jump into a project without specific end goals in mind. The methods that you use to get there may vary along the way, but a successful project means reaching the goals proposed with the initial project.
Communicate- A scrum team may be comprised of as many as seven individuals. While each person’s abilities will be necessary in achieving the goals of a project, too many people could lead to an overflow of ideas. Before getting too deep in a project, each team member should be aware of their exact responsibilities. Everyone on the team should remain in contact and communicate their progress throughout each iteration.
Collaborate- Introducing new team members through outsourcing can be extremely helpful in team velocity. An experienced outsourced team will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to a project.
Be Flexible- Flexibility is essential in the agile method. As a team, you should mimic the flexible nature of the method in your work and your mindset. Don’t get caught up in work that isn’t directly benefiting the project. Be aware of when an idea isn’t working. Don’t waste time on a method just because it worked for a project in the past.
Streamline- Always analyze the workflow of you and your team. Make sure there are no habits within the process that are negatively affecting your velocity. Are there reports, paperwork, emails, memos, that don’t actually add anything substantial to the process?
Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings- While communication is key, it is also important to avoid long, drawn out meetings that don’t accomplish anything. Be cautious of built-in meetings. Instead only host them when they will actually be beneficial to the team.
Minimize Distractions- If you are able to stick to a plan throughout the course of a project, then it will be easier to stay on task. Everyone gets distracted sometimes, it is only human, but if you can set out specific goals each day then it will be easier to notice when you are falling behind and when it is time to refocus.
Trust the Employees- Micromanaging can decrease confidence and productivity in employees. Trust that your employees and coworkers are just as motivated and involved as you, and that they are capable of producing quality products. There is no use in stressing over the work of others; instead spend your time focusing on your own work.
Keep Track- One of the many benefits of using velocity is the ability to record each iteration of each project and use that data to predict future productivity. To get to that point you must be vigilant about keeping track of each move within each iteration. Before beginning a project you will need to notice how many team members will be working on the project, and how many hours they will need to spend. Be aware of how the velocity changes with each iteration. It should fluctuate within a reasonable range, but if it changes drastically between more than one or two iterations, you may need to renegotiate the plan.
Plan for the Future- Take advantage of the velocity! By following the steps above you will be able to develop a backbone of each team and their capabilities. Use this to help predict and plan for future iterations.
For more information about agile software development and improving team velocity, give us a call at (502) 890-7665.
In recent years, agile methodology has become increasingly popular among tech development teams in part because of its adaptability. Teams are attracted to the flexibility within the agile method because it addresses the difficulty of trying to solve a complex problem through predetermined processes by allowing those processes to change throughout the course of the project. Rather than having to remain within a strict set of guidelines, teams are able to embrace more creative ways of problem-solving. Since the agile method is still a relatively new approach for many teams, there are a few mistakes that occur consistently. If you are thinking of adopting the methodology, here are a few frequent mistakes to be cautious of:
Fear of Failure
One of the benefits of using the agile method is the freedom to fail. It seems counter-intuitive to strive for failure, but often it will guide you toward success. If you focus all your energy into believing every project will be a success, you could potentially waste time. It is important to admit when something isn’t working so you can instead bring your attention to finding a solution or a new approach.
Teamwork is extremely valuable when it comes to tackling a new project. However, having too many people working on the same thing can quickly become counterproductive. You should assign employees to a project based on its estimated time-frame and how demanding the work may be. Sometimes a project only needs one or two people; others may require the brain power of your whole team. Be attentive when working with large teams. Don't let employees lose their voice or have their ideas overshadowed by their coworkers. Working in a team should promote collaboration rather than competition.
Not Consulting with Clients
A client’s opinion should be just as important as any team member's. Not including your client in the development process could allow for problems that will force your team to back track and lose valuable time. Ultimately the success of your work is dependent on the satisfaction of your client. Without involving their input, you could create a product that fails to fulfill their needs. After each new progression, you should be checking with your client to ensure they are in agreement with the direction of the project.
Waiting Too Long to Test
Efficiency does not always look the same. In terms of agile development, the focus should be on building a quality product and ensuring its capabilities rather than on creating a product quickly. You may save a few hours if you eliminate testing in the beginning, but they are sure to catch up with you when the product fails to function properly later on.
Lack of Skepticism
Using the agile method is attractive not just for its flexible qualities, but also because it is new. It is important to remain critical and thoughtful when using new software development approaches. Just as the waterfall approach is starting to be scrutinized a little more heavily, the same will surely happen to the agile method. Take a note of advice from the agile method itself and remain flexible. Analyze each assignment on an individual basis and decide what method would be most appropriate based on the details of the project. Don't just believe a project will succeed solely because its development has been based on agile principles.
Number8's Agile Method Software Development Team
At Number8, we've been in the business of software development for almost 20 years. Our on-shore and off-shore developers are familiar with the agile method and mistakes are both few and far between. If you are in need of an agile method software development team, contact us today. We can provide high quality IT talent to your business no matter the size or sector.
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