Agile Process in Software Engineering

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Agile, initially a software development methodology, has come a long way. An Agile process focuses more on people, product functionality, and customer satisfaction rather than on documentation and processes.

More businesses and projects in different industries today are either being agile or are already doing agile because Agile projects, it has been established, are 28% more successful than traditional projects. This, however, depends largely on the skill of the development team and how well they are implementing the Agile concept in the project. A competent Certified Scrum Master (CSM), as the expert of Scrum in Agile projects, should be able to steer a project to its success by guiding and collaborating closely with others.

Agile Process in Software Engineering

Woman coding on computer - Agile Process in Software Engineering
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Agile principles and techniques have found their way in human resource, marketing, portfolio management, product management, and other areas characterized by complex requirements, fast delivery, and fast adaptation to change.

Agile does not only embrace change but also its principles and techniques have been combined with other emerging technologies to push digital transformation initiatives forward and stay ahead in the competition. 

Agile Cloud Solutions 

Businesses are applying cloud solutions as much as they are applying Agile solutions. In focusing on their core business and reducing server infrastructure and maintenance costs, Agile teams have embraced serverless computing and the cloud is the solution they need for serverless computing thanks to the resources it offers. 

Agile and AI 

For instance, by 2030 80% of repetitive agile tasks will have been automated by AI and ML towards better performance and shorter time to market.

Agile and building customer experience

Today, the focus is more on improving the customer experience rather than delivering products and services. For instance, the iterative nature of agile methodology involves customers right from the design phase and allows them to give feedback, change requirements, and test the product in parts before actual completion. 

Agile and progressive WebApps 

The digital landscape is changing as more consumers access content from their mobile devices. To align with this important trend, businesses are adopting a mobile-first strategy.

This strategy is a trend in which during website design, priority is given to mobile devices compatibility over desktop compatibility. Together with this, Progressive WebApps (PWAs) are coming up to address connectivity and bandwidth challenges while also improving the user experience for web/mobile interactions. Developers are using the Agile approach in developing PWAs. 

Agile and Cybersecurity 

Striking a balance between steering innovation and mitigating security risks is a new challenge that businesses now have to deal with. Continued innovation and increased connectivity on the side of consumers are transforming the digital security landscape in terms of higher risks and tighter security regulations.

At the center of adopting modern digital security solutions is the Agile framework which focuses on adaptive planning and development, continuous improvement, and faster adaptation to change. 

What is Agile and Scrum?

Agile is a group of software development methodologies centered around an iterative approach in which the project is broken down into smaller builds. Project features are designed, developed, and tested in repeated cycles. This model promotes collaboration of the developers, clients, and other stakeholders since requirements evolve with every cycle.  

The Agile model fosters frequent inspection and adaptation, team-work and collaboration, as well as self-organization and accountability. This eventually leads to the production and fast delivery of high-quality software that meets both client requirements and company objectives. 

Values of Agile 

The core values of Agile as outlined in the manifesto are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over following a plan 

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a methodology under the Agile model, with some similarities yet unique features that make it one of the most adopted methodologies. As in Agile, Scrum emphasizes team collaboration, accountability, and iterative processes during development. 

Scrum is a lightweight framework. It involves self-organizing cross-functional teams collaborating in the development of complex adaptive projects to deliver the highest value within the shortest time using iterative and incremental approaches. 

In Scrum, the project is divided into small cycles of less than a month called Sprints. Each sprint includes planned tasks that the development team completes and delivers to the customer for feedback before starting the next sprint. This makes it possible for the development team to adapt to rapidly changing requirements. 

The Scrum framework is divided into 

  • Three roles including the ScrumMaster, Product Owner, and the development team. 
  • Three artifacts including product backlog, sprint backlog, and product increment
  • Five events including sprint, sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective

The Agile Process

The Agile process is, in nature, iterative, and incremental. The project is divided into small two-four week cycles (iterations) in which a part of the product is developed, tested, and released to the customer for feedback. The feedback received determines the workflow for the next cycle and this goes on until the entire project is completed. 

The iteration process is disciplined as each iteration is bound by specific workflows and timelines which should not be adjusted. 

A typical Agile process involves the following steps:

  • conceptualization
  • the product roadmap
  • inception
  • sprint deliveries

Conceptualization 

During the conceptualization stage, the project is envisioned, planned, and prioritized. This is typically the stage at which strategy is formed and a strategic meeting organized. 

A strategy meeting is held in which stakeholders identify the business need and define the goal of the project. A strategy meeting should include all relevant stakeholders including the management and take place, as specified, to evaluate progress. 

The strategy defines:

  • Who the product is meant for
  • Why they need it
  • The name of the product along with key benefits
  • Competing products
  • Why the product being developed is different from competing products

The product roadmap 

After forming a strategy, a roadmap for the product is required. The product owner as the vision bearer should translate his vision to make it understandable by other stakeholders. This is where a product roadmap comes in. 

A roadmap details the project requirements along with an estimated timeframe for each requirement. The product roadmap involves the product owner and stakeholders like sales, marketing, development team reps, and support. 

Inception 

During inception, the product owner creates a time-plan detailing the features of the product and prioritizing these features. These features will then form iterations which will be released on after another as planned. 

This is the point at which the product owner briefs the project manager, development team members, and a few stakeholders of the details of the project plan. 

Sprint deliveries 

By the time the first sprint planning meeting takes place between the product owner, ScrumMaster, and the development team (in the case of Scrum methodology), the product owner will have listed the features of the product together with their priority of release in a product backlog. 

Sprints are short iterations/cycles of the product which lists specific goals and tasks that should be completed and delivered to the client within a specified timeline. A sprint should not go beyond four weeks. Again, sprints should be of the same length to make planning easy and the project predictable.  

At the start of a new sprint, the team selects features to work on in order of the priority from the product backlog which is split into tasks to form a sprint that should be completed with a specific timeline.

Once a sprint is completed it is handed to the quality assurance team for testing and documentation after which it is delivered into the production for the client to give feedback. Based on the feedback given and the priority features in the product backlog, the team then plans for items in the next sprint that it will develop.

Once all cycles are completed, it is time to go back to the original strategy and assess whether all the requirements were met. The product will then be handed to the user’s work environment.

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