Agile Methods: Definition, Overview and Benefits

Agile Methoden in der Informationstechnologie

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Executive Assistant
Over 30 years of experience in the assistance
and back office sector
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February 28, 2023

Agile Methods: Definition, Overview and Benefits

Information Technology

Agile methods have already proven effective in many companies to accelerate the development of IT projects, improve quality and increase customer satisfaction. The goal is to develop the individual talents and skills of each person and use them for the success of the company.

What are agile methods?

Agile methods are approaches to software development, cloud computing, IT infrastructure, and more, based on flexible and solution-oriented processes to respond quickly to changing requirements and trends. Agile methods are characterized by close collaboration between customers, developers and other stakeholders to increase satisfaction of all parties involved as well as to maximize product quality.

The decision on which agile method to apply depends on various factors, such as the objective and the type and scope of the project.

Which agile methods are there?

There are a variety of agile methods at the team and organizational level that increase agility in companies and help structure collaboration. Among the best known are:

Scrum

Scrum is a popular and effective framework for addressing the challenges of developing products in a rapidly changing and unpredictable environment – especially in the software industry. Its focus is on collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement to help teams work more efficiently, respond quickly to changes, and deliver high-quality products.

Hallmarks of Scrum include daily meetings lasting no more than 15 minutes, set periods for sprint reviews followed by rounds of feedback, and a clear division of roles with a product owner, scrum master and members of the development team.

Kanban

Kanban is an agile framework originally developed in the manufacturing industry, but now used in a variety of fields and industries, including software development, IT and project management. It is based on the idea that a system is more effective when it is based on continuous delivery of tasks and constant monitoring of work progress.

Rules and practices help improve the work process, reduce bottlenecks and increase productive work time. This includes limiting the number of tasks being worked on at one time, analyzing work data to identify bottlenecks as well as opportunities for improvement, and continuously optimizing the flow of work.

Design Thinking

Design thinking describes a new way of solving problems and developing innovations. Teams are deliberately heterogeneous and do not consist exclusively of experts. Each team member is expected to think freely and innovatively – without regard to age, department or position – to gather ideas that ultimately lead to a prototype.

This process-oriented approach consists of several steps, usually arranged as follows: Understanding, Observing, Synthesizing, Ideating, Prototyping, and Testing. These steps are often depicted as a “double diamond” consisting of four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Implement.

Lean

Lean Management has its roots in the automotive industry and has since spread to many other industries and sectors. It incorporates a number of tools and techniques, including value stream mapping, kaizen events, and continuous improvement.

Efficiency and quality of processes are improved by Lean eliminating unnecessary activities, resources and time and empowering employees to organize their own work.

Extreme Programming (XP)

XP is a methodology that focuses on improving the quality of work and communication. Teams work in short, repeatable sprints and track progress through automated testing and continuous integration of customer feedback.

Extreme Programming consists of a number of practices, such as Pair Programming, Refactoring, and Test Driven Development (TDD).

What are the benefits of agile methods?

Agile methods offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Flexibility: Agile methods allow you to respond quickly to changing requirements and focus on what’s important.
  • Shorter development cycles: Lead to faster results and enable feedback from customers and stakeholders.
  • Better quality: Agile methods focus on continuous improvement and testing, leading to higher quality.
  • Higher satisfaction: Increased satisfaction through continuous customer and stakeholder engagement.
  • Better transparency: Transparent processes and progress enable better planning and decision making.

Overall, agile methods enable more flexible, faster and higher quality development as well as better collaboration and communication within the team. This leads to more satisfied customers and stakeholders and ultimately to successful projects.

How can agile methods be implemented successfully?

Successful implementation of agile methods requires a number of actions and steps. Below are some important points that should be considered:

  • Changing the corporate culture: Agile methods require an open and collaborative corporate culture. It is important that all team members are willing to take responsibility and work together on projects.
  • Introduce agile methods: Consistent implementation of agile methods is recommended. It therefore makes sense to start small at first, e.g., with a pilot project to try out and optimize the method.
  • Team composition: Agile teams should consist of members with different skills and experience in order to bring in a broader spectrum of perspectives and ideas.
  • Flexibility: Agile methods require flexibility and adaptability to respond quickly to changing requirements, circumstances and trends.
  • Communication: Open and transparent communication among all participants is essential for the successful use of agile methods.
  • Regular feedback: Agile methods involve obtaining regular feedback. This should be integrated into the work process in order to make continuous improvements.
  • Continuous improvement: By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, an environment is created that facilitates process optimization.

However, these measures must be tailored to the individual needs, requirements and goals of a company or project.