Profitability, financial growth, immense progress as well as increased employee engagement, efficiency, and flexibility – these are some of the benefits that Agile practices may bring to the company using them in the big picture.
In short, Agile is the iterative, team-centric approach based on constant feedback that may help spot any problems fast and also avoid turning in the wrong direction. But what’s hidden behind those words? What does implementing this methodology look like in practice? What kinds of day-to-day practices make the Agile approach so unique?
Because it is a broad term that has been adopted for a few decades now, it’s good to know what best is in store in the Agile approach. What are the 7 best agile practices you’d better know?
Here are the main threads that will be discussed in this article:
1. Agile practices in software development – why it’s important to use them
2. Agile best practices for development teams in a nutshell
3. 7 most popular Agile practices. Why developers love them
4. Best Agile practices – list
Agile practices in software development – why it’s important to use them
If you’re looking for a methodology that has transformed the way businesses are run, and changed the employees’ daily duties thoroughly, point a finger at Agile practices. They make organizations more flexible and faster, and this way, even corporations may enjoy greater swiftness, alertness, and the ability to adapt to ever-changing market circumstances.
Apart from enhancing innovations, being Agile in organizational terms also means time-saving, better performance, increased effectiveness, and thus – competitive advantage. And the Agile methodology’s fame makes more and more companies apply at least some of Agile principles. Improving organizational agility is a top strategic priority for as many as 72% of business leaders.
What does being Agile mean? It’s based on responding to changes fast instead of strictly sticking to the plan, eliminating rework thanks to being fast and adaptable.
Swift Agile teams delivering small increments are in the center here but, also, the importance of facilitators like Scrum Masters is more and more appreciated. An Agile company is a business based on networking that enhances collaboration and knowledge-sharing, contrary to the old-time perception of companies as stiff, hierarchical entities.
Agile development best practices, used the right way, let organizations deliver advanced digital solutions faster and with greater excellence. But there are no lightning-fast solutions that would transform a regular company into an Agile one. Executives need to understand that the Agility paradigm should be applied profoundly, not as a one-off solution, and underpin the whole organization, its culture, and leadership.
But to understand the Agile philosophy’s importance in software development, let’s go back to the year 2001 when Manifesto for Agile Software Development, formulated by IT professionals, was unveiled.
Four core values of the Manifesto embraced:
„Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan”.
Also, principles behind the Manifesto included attention to technical excellence, „early and continuous delivery of valuable software”, harnessing change „for the customer’s competitive advantage”, delivering working software frequently (with increments every two weeks), cooperation (at a constant pace) of business people and developers throughout the project, technical excellence, simplicity, and good design, treating self-organizing teams as those bringing the best results as well as reflecting – at regular intervals – on how the team may become more effective and adjusting its behavior accordingly.
Most of those ideas behind the Agile approach stood the test of time, and so they are the good reasons why it is, to this day, worth and important to use the Agile methodology in software development.
Agile best practices for development teams in a nutshell
Being more alert, adaptable, team-oriented, result-driven, and hands-on, with continuous feedback, and progress tracking are at the core of the Agile approach. But how to achieve the best results the smoothest way? What are the best Agile practices for development teams?
It’s good to emphasize that Scrum practices rely heavily on the Agile approach but the latter also stands behind such methodologies, frameworks and approaches as XP, Lean, and Kanban as well as DevOps, Holacracy, Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), Nexus, Praxis, Design Thinking and dozens of others.
The most popular Agile practices for software development teams include releases in small increments that are performed in accordance with the Manifesto – every two to four weeks. Another typical practice is setting top priorities in advance – in the form of the product backlog run by the Product Owner – and dividing the project into time-boxed iteration or sprints. Being a part of an Agile team, its members may expect the presence of a facilitator – a swift, and all-embracing Scrum Master, as well as the simple design of software, frequent code refactoring, regular feedback collecting, continuous integration, test-driven development, and pair programming.
7 most popular Agile practices. Why developers love them
Agile development practices are to deliver great software fast, in a simplified way, and in cooperation between software developers, business analysts, and other experts, like UX designers, when needed. Which practices are especially popular in day-to-day work? Here’s the list of Agile methods.
Or Daily Scrums or stand-ups – 15-minutes or shorter meet-ups with attendees standing in a circle to make things short. Ideally, they are held daily at the same venue and time, preferably in the morning, to plan the work for the next 24 hours, monitor the progress achieved the previous day, spot obstacles that may cause delays, etc.
Quick rebuilding and reformatting teams
To make the workflow smooth. The company’s most precious resources – talented people – should be moved between teams swiftly across hierarchic divisions to take advantage of their abilities best. Next, when another need occurs, the team may be disbanded fast and its participants may form another one with other employees.
Creating the perfect Agile workspace
With tools and amenities that make the teamwork even more efficient and faster. These may include big charts on the walls, like Burn Down Charts, serving as visual reminders of the remaining work, task boards as well as other visual feedback devices. Also, the Agile space, apart from robust teamwork, should enable effective work in solitude.
Test-driven development (TDD)
One of the quality assurance strategies within the Agile approach that highlights the role of continuous automated unit tests in receiving clear and bug-free code.
Sticking to the sprint backlog
The optimal workflow and the communication should serve the goal of delivering the best outcome possible on time. To do so, team members should be extremely focused and task-oriented. Also, the sprint time should not be stretched to meet the deadline.
Using Planning Poker (or Scrum Poker)
A consensus-based technique for exact estimating the effort and time needed to complete a software feature or a project within Agile teams.
Setting clear communication rules
Necessary to enable smooth cooperation within Agile teams. Relevant guidelines about sharing pieces of information or notifications are necessary to ensure the workflow is steady and predictable. It’s especially important for remote team members to keep the flow of information right as, according to the Manifesto, face-to-face conversation is the best way to convey information within a development team.
Best Agile practices list
In short, the list of Agile methods or practices the most popular among developers covers:
1. Daily Meetings
2. Teams quickly formatted and rebuilt
3. Creating the perfect Agile workspace
4. Test-driven development (TDD)
5. Sticking to the sprint backlog
6. Using Planning Poker
7. Setting clear communication rules
Those are only some of the dozens of Agile great practices you may choose from to get the best out of this effective and versatile approach. If you want to pick out the most proper ones for a given project, you should take into account its nature, the team size as well as its composition and location of particular members. Undoubtedly, the Agile best practices are great facilitators giving the projects they’ve been applied to the unrivaled management, enhancement, and influx of fresh energy.
And you, what Agile practices would you recommend and why? What advantages do they offer? Which Agile practices are the most useful to you and your team?