The Agile methodology is a concept that has a ton of depth, and depending on your experience with it there might be a lot that you don’t know. Whether you’re interested in the main principles of Agile, or some in-depth information on its various stages, we’ve gathered a list of the most important Agile methodology questions and have answered them for you here. Let’s get started.
What Is the Agile Methodology?
The Agile methodology is defined in our comprehensive overview as “… a workflow ideology that emphasizes cyclical improvements, collaboration, and frequent adaptation in order to solve problems. It is mainly applied during software development or project management and attempts to improve cycles of work by enabling fast and high-quality delivery of projects.”
What Structures Exist Under the Agile Methodology?
As mentioned in the above definition, Agile is an umbrella workflow methodology that emphasizes cyclical improvements and consistent delivery. This definition leaves room for how exactly these principles will be applied, which is where the structures under agile come into play. There are many different methods that are used to apply the agile methodology, and below we’ll outline some popular ones in particular.
- Scrum is a hyper organized framework that asks teams to complete sprints in a rigid timeframe. Through thorough organization of team members and project requirements, Scrum allows your team to complete sprints in a timely manner while also ensuring improvements for future projects.
- Kanban is similar to Scrum in that it operates in short sprints, but where Scrum is hyper organized, Kanban provides more room for flexibility. The Kanban method structures projects so that teams have room to prioritize based on the customer’s most pressing needs. This means teams can deliver chunks of progress while maintaining an accurate vision of their changing end goals.
Lean Software Development
- Lean software development is mainly based on one of the big advantages of agile and emphasizes the need to eliminate waste while maximizing value. This means teams will strive to operate at maximum efficiency in their effort to achieve the customer’s goals. It operates in a similar, iterative style, but is mainly focused on achieving peak efficiency.
These three project management methods are all successful in their own right, but there are many more that can be explored.
What’s the Difference Between the Agile Methodology and Traditional Methods of Software Development?
One of the biggest Agile methodology questions is understanding how Agile is different. The differences between Agile software development and traditional software development are mainly based in how the team approaches their projects and goals. Much of the time tasks will be carried out in a similar manner but the approach and structure of the team is the biggest difference.
Traditionally, tasks and projects are completed linearly. Planning happens first, followed by design, development, testing, and maintenance. Many of these steps also occur in Agile, but Agile emphasizes the cyclical nature of development. There might be multiple design phases before development starts, or many testing phases throughout a project’s lifetime. Being able to be flexible and plan for the next sprint is a key part of Agile that traditional software development lacks.
Additionally, the Agile methodology emphasizes shorter sprints with more frequent deployments, whereas traditional methods usually opt for larger projects with more time in between start and finish.
What Are the Advantages to Using Agile?
There are several advantages to using Agile that are listed below. If you want to learn more about the upside of Agile, check out our guide.
- Improves product quality
- Eliminate waste
- Builds Team Cohesion
- Addresses Customer Needs
- Improves Control & Flexibility
- Manages Risk
Are There Any Disadvantages to Using Agile?
While Agile is a very popular methodology for software development, there are some disadvantages to implementing it. These will mostly come into play depending on the type of project being completed. They are:
- Risk of ever-lasting project
- Difficult to estimate resource consumption
- Can easily get sidetracked
- Long term projects can struggle with short delivery periods
Is There a Difference Between the Sprint Backlog and Product Backlog?
The sprint backlog and product backlog are relics that are owned and utilized by different members of the Scrum team. They are defined as:
- The sprint backlog is an item created by the development teams to organize the requirements of the sprint they are currently conducting. It specifically lays out tasks that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the goals of the sprint and is a smaller part of the larger product backlog.
- The product backlog is a document with larger context than the sprint backlog and is maintained by the product owner. The product backlog contains all of the features of a given product along with the requirements to build them. This is basically the birds eye view of the project and documents everything that will go into it.
What Is a Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap is a document that outlines how a product will change and grow over time. It outlines the release of new features and provides crucial context to how sprints will be conducted to accomplish the team’s goals. Similar to most things in Agile, product roadmaps are not rigid documents, but should ebb and flow as the vision of the product is refined.
A product roadmap is a plan of action for how a product or solution will evolve over time. Product owners use roadmaps to outline future product functionality and when new features will be released. When used in agile development, a roadmap provides crucial context for the team’s everyday work and should be responsive to shifts in the competitive landscape.
How Do Online Whiteboards Help Agile Teams?
Online whiteboards can answer an entire set of agile methodology questions, but their main function is to provide a flexible online workspace that can adjust based on the needs of the user. This means depending on the changing constraints of the projects, team members can quickly adjust their workspace to reflect a change in priorities.
In an Agile workflow this flexibility is essential, and for teams to be able to visually organize themselves on a board as flexible as they are is a big advantage.
What Is a Sprint Retrospective and What Is Its Role?
Sprint retrospectives can come in many forms, but mainly they are exercises that emphasize a retroactive analysis of the most recent sprint. This involves looking at what was most successful, what didn’t work, and how these items can be implemented in the next sprint.
Given the cyclical nature of the Agile methodology, this is a vital exercise to improve efficiency and ensure success going forward.
What Is the Role of Agile Testing?
Agile testing is the process of continuous testing throughout a given deployment process. Unlike traditional testing that is conducted at the end of a sprint, Agile testing can happen at any stage to measure progress and success.
When Is Agile Most Applicable?
The Agile methodology is most applicable during software development and project management. This is partially due to the roots of the Agile manifesto but also because delivering software naturally happens in smaller phases, leading to greater efficiency through the Agile methodology.
Is There a Difference Between Incremental and Iterative Delivery?
Although you hear the terms used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between incremental and iterative delivery.
Incremental delivery happens in chunks, where certain sections are completed and released one after the other.
Iterative delivery happens over time without specifically highlighted chunks to be delivered linearly. The development happens over time with deployment happening without a polished end product.
What Do the Success Metrics Look Like in Agile?
The metrics for success in Agile are not that different from the general metrics of success for a business, but there are some unique measures. Some of the biggest metrics of success are product quality, customer satisfaction, and tangible value-added.
Additionally, an internal metric of success that is more specifically geared towards Agile is the improvement upon a previous sprint. Given the focus on cyclical development, seeing tangible improvement within a team is a very positive sign that they’re optimizing their workflow. In the list of Agile methodology questions, this one is very important for the overall success of a team.
What Are the Basic Principles of the Agile Methodology?
The basic principles of Agile are outlined briefly in our comprehensive guide and follow as such:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
How Long Should Each Agile Sprint Last?
There is no rigid timeframe for gauging how long each sprint should last. This will mainly depend on the length and complexity of the project that is being tackled, so this will vary from team to team.
While this might vary, we suggest keeping sprints between 2-3 weeks, with a month being a very long sprint. It’s important to emphasize fast development, and in a longer sprint, this core feature can get lost.
Whether you’re preparing for an interview, looking to change your team dynamic, or simply improve individual processes, the answers to these Agile methodology questions should point you in the right direction.