The agile methodology is one of the most popular software development and project management approaches. Agile started with one method, but the methodology has expanded to more than 50 independent, effective methods. Notably, some of these methods are more efficient and easier to use than others.
Here is a comprehensive guide on five of the most efficient agile software development methodologies. This guide also includes tips on choosing an agile methodology that best suits your needs and preferences.
Agile Methodology Defined
Agile methodology is an organized approach to software development. The agile process is founded on two important concepts:
- Dividing the software development process into several stages.
- Collaborating with the stakeholders throughout all stages and making improvements where necessary.
Dividing the software development project into several phases and stages makes it easier to manage and monitor. On the other hand, collaborating with stakeholders and implementing changes and improvements helps optimize the outcome's quality. Some of the other notable agile methodology benefits include:
- The communication channels are streamlined and transparent.
- The smaller stages are easy to monitor, making it easier to make accurate predictions about the project's future.
- Potential obstacles are easily identifiable, enabling you to minimize potential risks.
- Ultimately, this methodology works toward improving the final product's quality, making for satisfied customers.
Responsiveness to change is one of the most notable agile methodology benefits and traits. This makes it compatible with versatile software development projects with versatile and constantly changing plans and objectives.
Types of Agile Methodology
More than 50 types of agile methodology currently exist, and this number is expected to keep growing over time. Here is an overview of five of the most efficient, easy-to-use agile methodologies:
Kanban is a Japanese name that translates to "visual board" or "signboard." The word is also associated with the concept of getting something done just in time, emphasizing the importance of punctuality.
This agile methodology employs a Kanban board, a visual board that divides and categorizes the whole project into several columns. Each column represents a specific milestone in the software development process. The visual board helps boost the project's visibility as everyone can see all the progress made throughout each stage.
Kanban emphasizes transparency and interaction among all stakeholders throughout the project. It also highlights the importance of equipping the development teams with the necessary tools to complete various tasks.
The agile SCRUM development methodology is one of the earliest and most popular agile methods. It is also founded on the concept of dividing the software development project into stages called sprints, with each sprint representing a specific milestone.
SCRUM emphasizes and facilitates punctuality in two ways. First, each sprint is assigned a fixed period within which the team should achieve the set objectives. Second, each spring focuses on continuous deliverables. In a nutshell, this means that the team can identify and prioritize high-priority, incomplete, or overdue tasks.
This methodology also emphasizes the importance of a structured and well-equipped team. It is also worth noting that this methodology uses a collaboration tool called Daily Scrum. Essentially, this tool requires the team to meet regularly (ideally, after completing each sprint) to review the completed and next sprint.
3. Extreme Programming (XP)
The Extreme Programming (XP) agile methodology is also based on the concept of dividing the project into manageable development cycles. It also emphasizes communication, feedback, and teamwork.
XP's most notable principles are teamwork and open communication among all stakeholders, including the final user. Notably, the project is tested by the final users after each cycle's completion, and the feedback is used to improve the completed and future tasks. This approach enables the development teams to handle changes as soon as they pop up, regardless of the project's stage.
4. Crystal Agile Methodology
The crystal agile methodology differs from other methodologies because it doesn't recommend a specific approach to follow during the software development process. Instead, it comprises eight smaller methodologies symbolized by varying colors. These methodologies include:
- Crystal Yellow
- Crystal Clear
- Crystal Red
- Crystal Orange
- Crystal Orange Web
- Crystal Maroon
- Crystal Diamond
- Crystal Sapphire
The methodology chosen for any particular task or milestone depends on factors such as project priorities, team size, and system criticality. It is also worth noting that this methodology emphasizes also prioritizes user engagement and customer satisfaction, despite the less documentation and project review overhead.
5. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Feature Driven Development (FDD) differs from other agile methodologies in several ways. Most notable, albeit the project is divided into phases and milestones, they are less defined. The methodology also emphasizes the importance of a strong, structured, and well-equipped team. It works by developing, testing, and implementing models at various milestones throughout the project.
FDD's success depends on a detailed, comprehensive plan. Ideally, the planning foresight should address any expected and unexpected challenges during the project's development. Failure to do this (especially during the project's initial stages) can cause complications and setbacks.
How to Choose the Best Agile Methodology for Software Development
Different agile methodologies vary in their overall approach to software development at fundamental and technical levels. These differences can influence your team's experience and affect the outcome's quality.
It is prudent to choose an agile methodology that satisfies your team's and project's unique needs and preferences. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision:
The Nature of the Project
Your chosen agile methodology should be compatible with the nature of the project. Three important factors determine the nature of a project:
Most agile methodologies are designed to handle small, manageable projects. For example, the FDD methodology comfortably handles teams of more than 40 people, while the XP methodology handles smaller teams of less than ten people.
A project's criticality refers to its costs. Ideally, the chosen methodology should fit your budget and maximize the expected ROIs.
Decomposability in software development refers to the project's changing variables and objectives. Some methodologies are flexible, while others are rigid.
The Team's Organizational Culture
Most software development projects require teamwork. Similarly, most agile methodologies emphasize the importance of a structured and well-equipped team, but some don't.
The Team's Skills and Tools
Does your team have the right skills and tools to complete the project? It is worth noting that most agile methodologies' success depends on the team's overall competence.
Stakeholder and User Engagement
Does the project require close collaboration among stakeholders, including users? If so, the chosen agile methodology should facilitate the level of collaboration and engagement required.