Agile frameworks are used widely in modern software development teams due to their speed, flexibility, constant feedback and learning, and other benefits.
It focuses on customer satisfaction, which is crucial for every business.
Since the competition is high, you are required to produce top-notch quality products on time while staying true to the customer requirements and needs.
Nevertheless, traditional methodologies seem to be less flexible and slower compared to this modern concept that emphasizes speed and value delivery.
This is why the Agile mindset is becoming more popular these days.
According to a report, 75% of companies reported that adopting agile helped accelerate their software delivery, while 55% said it increased their productivity.
In this article, I’ll deep dive into Agile frameworks and help you choose what’s best for your team.
Let’s go in!
What Is Agile?
Agile, in the context of software development, is a set of practices, approaches, and principles of software development that aims to deliver maximum value faster with fewer bottlenecks.
An agile team completes its tasks in small and consumable increments while continuously evaluating a project’s requirements, results, and plans to ensure teams can quickly respond to changes and still deliver optimum value to the customers. Its methodologies demonstrate continuous improvements with feedback cycles.
Agile is a mindset that works on 12 principles, called the Agile Manifesto:
- Customer satisfaction by delivering quality software early
- Respond to change anywhere in the development cycle
- Cooperation between developers and stakeholders or customers
- Rapid delivery of working software
- Involving motivated and trusted individuals in the Agile team
- Face-to-face communication is best
- Progress is determined by delivering quality, working software
- Sustainable development, maintaining a constant speed
- Good design and technical excellence
- Self-organizing teams
- Continuous improvements with performance assessments
Why Go Agile?
Using Agile in software development offers many advantages to teams, such as:
- Customer satisfaction: Agile teams involve customers in the development by reporting to them the task progress and taking feedback continuously. This ensures that each task completes while aligning with the customers’ requirements to deliver a tailor-made quality product at the end. It not only increases customer satisfaction but also boosts retention.
- Superior product quality: Agile involves an iterative software development approach, meaning all the processes and tasks are improved at each phase and iteration to create superb-quality products.
- Better Communication: In Agile, face-to-face communication is preferred along with continuous interaction to eliminate confusion and promote teamwork. Meetings are conducted daily to ensure each member has a clear understanding of the end goal and tasks at each phase.
- Improved workflow: Agile teams are required to work in shorter, fixed durations and involve everyone in the team, from developers and managers to clients, with complete transparency. This makes it easier to assign resources, assess performance, and predict costs. Thus, every task and project goes as per the plan and competes within time and budget.
- More flexibility: Agile teams can respond quickly to any change at any phase of the software development lifecycle, without difficulties, as opposed to traditional methods.
- Faster time-to-market: By adopting Agile frameworks, teams can work to deliver the product at faster speeds and deploy it without compromising on quality or budget. With faster time-to-market, you will get an edge over your competitors.
- Reduced risks: Project status and quality is assessed regularly, which provider greater visibility into the project and all your resources, from errors and bugs to team members and their performance. This way, you can eliminate bottlenecks by detecting issues early and mitigating them before any escalation.
Now, let’s understand what agile frameworks are and their types.
What Do You Mean by An Agile framework?
An agile framework is a specific approach to software development based on the philosophy of the Agile Manifesto and Agile values. It involves people, tasks, and tools to plan, manage, collaborate, and execute work with an emphasis on agility, flexibility, iterative development, valuing people more than processes, and continuous feedback.
Agile frameworks are more lightweight than traditional frameworks like Waterfall, Big Bang, etc. It focuses on delivering working software while keeping rules and documentation to a minimum.
There are many types of Agile frameworks that software development teams use. Each Agile framework is unique, but they have the same goal – customer satisfaction by producing and delivering quality software faster. They follow basic project management phases and processes for completion.
Initially, the Agile mindset was developed just for software development. It has evolved to meet the requirements of different types of teams and industries. Thus, agile frameworks are also evolving, and we now have many Agile frameworks available.
Most Popular/Commonly Used Agile Frameworks
Let’s discuss some of the popular Agile frameworks used in software development – Scrum, Kanban, extreme programming, FDD, crystal, DSDM, and more.
The most popular and widely used Agile framework – Scrum – is a prescriptive approach that involves managing projects in small increments and iterations. As per a report, it is used by 66% of Agile teams.
Scrum is time-boxed and includes short stages or cycles of software development called Sprints. A project will be broken down into multiple sprints for easy planning and execution. Scrum can be used to build complex software and enables teams to deliver the product with the highest quality.
Scrum teams members are organized into three major roles:
- A Scrum master to manage the project and help the team practice and understand Scrum
- A product owner to prioritize tasks and work
- Developers for product creation
Scrum teams take 15-minutes of meetings every business day to assess work, sync activities, check progress, plan the day, and adjust accordingly. It takes around 2–4 weeks of sprints to complete a project. After this, the project is re-evaluated to find the areas of improvement and prioritized.
Scrum teams use a Scrum Board to group tasks based on overall progress. It happens in these steps:
- The Product Owner creates a wish list for all the work to be done, called Product Backlog.
- A few items will be taken from the top by the Scrum Team to make an execution plan called Sprint Backlog. Next, the team will work to complete those items.
- Daily Scrum, a meeting, is conducted every day to check work progress and synchronization.
- Scrum Master maintains team focus and deliverability.
- Assessment and feedback will be given for each sprint when it completes implementation in the next sprint, called “sprint retrospectives”.
- Scrum is easy to scale and follow
- It allows teams to find issues early so they can be fixed.
- Promotes effective collaboration between teams and members
- Empowers teams to deliver predictably and quickly
- Adapts to changing needs
When to use Scrum: It’s best to use Scrum if your project’s goal is to build a concrete product instead of a service. It’s more suitable for small organizations. Apart from software development, it works for other streams like designing, marketing, etc.
The word “Kanban” is a Japanese word for a card or visual signal.
Kanban, too, focuses on enabling teams to collaborate effectively to continuously deliver software products of high quality. It is unique and offers a visual approach to managing product creation. Kanban works on six basic principles:
- Workflow visualization
- Managing flow
- Limiting work already in progress
- Collaboration and improvement as a whole
- Making explicit process policies
- Implementing feedback loops
A Kanban board is the major characteristic of this Agile framework. It facilitates a visual representation of everything happening in your progress and your Agile team through columns for each process, showcasing work as Done, Doing, and To-Do.
The Agile team creates a card for each project or task that contains rich information regarding the task, its status, people assigned to this card, due dates, deliverables needed, resources to help, and other details. The teams move the cards from left to right on the board, displaying the work status.
- Improved visibility of tasks and their statuses using “cards”
- The Kanban framework improves project efficiency
- Enhanced transparency and collaboration to keep everyone on the same page
- Allows you to control and limit running tasks like the amount of work while keeping in mind the continuous task deliverability
- Focused on cycle duration to take a task from backlog to the final state
- Higher flexibility to add and prioritize items whenever you want
- Helps you figure out the best workflow for your team so you can advance toward your goal
When to use Kanban: Its roots belong to manufacturing, but it’s widely used in software development along with other projects like content creation, HR, marketing, and more. It’s best for Agile processes undergoing small changes. It’s also great for teams that need to quickly respond to requests and remain focused.
Extreme Programming (XP)
Extreme Programming (XP) is an Agile framework tailored specifically for programmers. Instead of steps, it focuses on continuous delivery and speed. XP aims at finding the simplest method that will work for developing a product without emphasizing much on long-term views but values customer satisfaction.
It follows a set of principles:
In this Agile framework, teams communicate thoroughly with the client to understand how the end product should look alike and its most valuable features and use this information to plan and implement in software production. They also take frequent feedback to keep improving and ensure the requirements are met.
This approach enables smaller teams to produce working software in small increments at certain intervals, like Scrum. Usually, it takes around 1-3 weeks to complete a project through XP. It can incorporate changes easily, even at the later stages of SDLC. Here, the software product is tested from the earliest stages using strong components to ensure product quality.
Its unique features are – pair programming for higher quality, test-driven development, continuous integration, and closer customer involvement at each step.
- Simpler written code, minimal documentation
- Better visibility into the process and development cycle
- Rapid results because of constant testing
- Each issue is handled by the entire team, promoting engagement, communication, and collaboration
- Improved efficiency and productivity with less confusion and conflicts
When to use XP: XP is best for smaller teams consisting of developers with experience in XP, good communication skills, and who are good at collaborating constantly with stakeholders from other departments than IT.
Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Feature-Driven Development is an Agile framework that begins with a heavier software development model but gets more granular as the project advances. It aims to produce a working software product at speed continuously.
It uses the JEDI concept, which means “just enough design initially”, and not the Star Wars JEDI. Apologies if I disappointed you😊.
Moving on, the steps involved in the FDD Agile frameworks are:
- Takin the requirements and developing an overall development model
- Creating a set of features for the software
- Planning by feature
- Designing by feature
- Building by feature
FDD leverages around two weeks of increments and iterations while keeping in mind to plan, design, and build by feature. Its feature-centric approach helps deliver products rich in features and functionality as required by the client. Here, a separate design and development plan is made for each software feature. Hence, it requires rigorous documentation.
- Easy to scale from smaller software development teams to larger projects
- Helps teams produce feature-rich software that the end-users would love
- Faster development and delivery
- Continuous iterations to improve the product quality
When to use FDD: It is suitable for teams with advanced planning and designing capabilities.
Crystal Agile framework is a lightweight software development model focused on people, community, communications, skills, and talents. It prioritizes interactions between the members involved in a project more than processes and tools, which is one of the core principles of Agile.
Crystal enables teams to deliver software often and early while involving more user involvement and removing silos. It’s flexible since it considers every project unique and allows teams to freely develop their preferred processes and adapt accordingly. It categorizes a project based on – team size, priorities, and system criticality. It includes:
- Crystal Clear for teams consisting of up to 8 members
- Crystal Yellow for teams consisting of 10-20 members
- Crystal Red for teams consisting of 20-50 members
- Crystal Orange for teams consisting of 50-100 members
Each type of Crystal model has its own Agile framework. Its unique characteristic is communication between each member associated with a project. With constant communication and feedback, the final product’s efficiency and quality are maintained to top-notch for client satisfaction.
- Improved collaboration, transparency, and trust among team members
- Skill development
- Rapid software delivery
- Reduced friction
When to use Crystal: It’s best for teams spread across different geographical locations and require streamlined communications.
Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)
DSDM, which originated in the 1990s, focuses on the rapid delivery of software products. It has evolved since then to provide more capabilities such as more user involvement, integrated testing, and higher collaboration between stakeholders, to meet business values and needs.
This Agile framework focuses on each project stage, from conception to final delivery. It mandates rework and also makes it easy to incorporate changes anywhere in the SDLC. Similar to other frameworks, DSDM also uses Sprints and can be used alongside XP and Scrum.
- Greater control with quality production
- Tailored to meet business needs
- Improved collaboration with clear and continuous interactions
- Iterative development and rapid delivery
When to use DSDM: Organizations looking for rapid software delivery and flexibility to make changes even after delivery as per the client’s requirements.
Apart from the above, some important Agile frameworks are:
Rapid Application Development (RAD): It emerged around the 80s, and several Agile frameworks take inspiration from RAD. It involves prototyping instead of rigorous planning and fast, continuous iterations called Sprints.
Adaptive Software Development (ASD): It’s based on RAD and focuses on the software’s end users. It promotes transparency and constant communication between the development team and the client and includes an adaptive approach to software development with continuous learning and collaboration.
Disciplined Agile (DA): DA involves an SDLC focusing on learning and prioritizing users and people. It is suitable for bigger teams and many remote workers.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): It uses the elements of Scrum, XP, and Kanban and combines these with Agile, DevOps, and Lean philosophies. It creates a model that can work well for large Agile teams.
Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS): It uses Scrum basics and applies to various teams. It’s useful for teams working on the same software product or value stream. It’s a lightweight option for SAFe.
Lean Software Development (LSD): It focuses more on principles – deliver fast, eliminate waste, defer decisions, learn continuously, empower teams, get complete visibility, and build integrity. LSD is easy to scale and adapt and facilitates employee collaboration.
Conclusion: What Agile Framework Should You Choose?
After learning about the above Agile frameworks, you might be confused about what to choose among them for your software development process.
Since no single Agile framework is best and no one-size-fits-all policy is applicable here, choosing one among them is completely dependent upon certain factors – your organization’s size, Agile maturity, clients’ requirements, available resources, and your product portfolio.
So, choose an Agile framework suitable for you according to these parameters to make your way to Agile and see its benefits in your entire SDLC.
You may now look at some of the best scrum tools for SMBs.