Types of Agile Methodology 

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. 

Different 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: 

1. Kanban 

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. 

2. SCRUM 

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 sprint 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. 

6. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

The Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is a rapid agile methodology that emphasizes iterative delivery, customer involvement, collaboration and feedback among cross-functional teams. It was one of the first Agile methods and is considered to be a predecessor of Extreme Programming (XP). 

DSDM focuses on delivering working software quickly, with the understanding that requirements will change over time. As such, it includes several techniques for managing changing requirements, such as continuous integration and continuous testing. In addition, DSDM teams typically work in short iterations, which allows them to quickly adapt to changes and make course corrections when necessary. 

The key roles in DSDM can be grouped into three main categories: project, development and supportive roles Project management roles include the business sponsor, the visionary, the project manager, and the technical coordinator. The development team roles include the development team leader, developers, business analyst, product tester, and business ambassador.  The supportive roles include the workshop facilitator, the DSDM coach, technical advisor and business advisor. 

7. Lean Software Development

The Lean Software Development methodology focuses on maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste. Some experts liken this methodology to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept because the guiding principle is very similar. The key tenets of Lean software development are waste reduction, continuous improvement, and customer focus. 

Lean software development practitioners believe that by eliminating waste and constantly improving the process, they can deliver higher-quality software products more efficiently. In addition, they believe that by keeping the customer's needs at the forefront of the project, they can better meet those needs. While the Lean methodology has its roots in manufacturing, it has been adapted for use in the software development realm and is now used by many leading organizations.

This methodology operates on seven principles:

  • Eliminating waste
  • Fast Delivery
  • Amplified Learning
  • Quality
  • Respect for Teamwork
  • Delayed the commitment
  • Optimizing the whole system

Further reading: What is Lean Software Development, its benefits, challenges and best practices

8. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) emphasizes the use of workflows and patterns alongside close collaboration between different teams in order to achieve agile success at scale. It calls for speed, anchored on the realization that the modern customer is in pursuit of “instant gratification” The framework was pioneered by Dean Leffingwell, a software engineer and former CEO of Rally Software. 

SAFe is based on the premise that traditional waterfall approaches to software development are no longer sufficient in today's fast-paced, ever-changing world. Today, software should be delivered more quickly and with fewer errors.

There are 10 foundational principles that power the SAFe methodology;

  • Take an economic view
  • Apply systems thinking
  • Assume variability; preserve options
  • Build incrementally with fast, integrated learning cycles
  • Base milestones on objective evaluation of working systems
  • Visualize and limit WIP, reduce batch sizes, and manage queue lengths
  • Apply cadence, synchronize with cross-domain planning
  • Unlock the intrinsic motivation of knowledge workers
  • Decentralize decision-making
  • Organize around value

The core values of SAFe include quality over agility, transparency, alignment, leadership and regular delivery.

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: 

Size 

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. 

Criticality 

A project's criticality refers to its costs. Ideally, the chosen methodology should fit your budget and maximize the expected ROIs. 

Decomposability 

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. 

Agile Methodologies FAQ

What is agile methodology?

Agile methodology is a process for developing and managing software projects. It is based on the principles of agile software development, which emphasize customer collaboration, frequent delivery of working software, and adaptive planning. Agile methodology is designed to help teams respond quickly to changes and deliver high-quality software products. 

The agile process is iterative, meaning that it is divided into short cycles, or sprints. Each sprint begins with a planning meeting, during which the team decides what work will be completed during the sprint. The team then works together to complete the work, and at the end of the sprint, they review their progress and plan for the next sprint. Agile methodology has become one of the most popular approaches to software development in recent years

How many agile methodologies are there?

Because agile methodology is so flexible and adaptable, there are a myriad of different approaches that have been developed over the years. But in terms of popularity, there are about 8 agile methodologies that are most popular: 

  1. Scrum
  2. Kanban
  3. Crystal Clear
  4. Extreme Programming (XP), 
  5. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  6. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
  7. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
  8. Lean Software Development.

How to choose the best agile methodology?

First, think about the project size and scope. If you have a large and complex project, you may want to consider using a more comprehensive methodology like Scrum or Kanban. On the other hand, if you have a small and simple project, a less comprehensive approach might be more suitable. Second, consider the team's level of experience with Agile methods. If your team is new to Agile, it might be best to start with a simpler methodology. However, if your team is experienced with Agile, they may be able to handle a more complex methodology. 

Other factors include customer expectations, budget, and the company's culture. Alternatively, and if budget allows, you can experiment with a few different methodologies and see which one works best for your team.

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