What is the AGILE method?
The Agile method, known as Scrum, is an increasingly well-known project management approach used by many companies.
Initially, this methodology was used in IT development, but today it has been adapted to many other industries. This is of course the method we use to manage our projects.
Regardless of your field, if you are looking for a new project management method for your IT development project, we recommend the Agile methodology because we are completely satisfied with it and convinced of its effectiveness.
To describe this method, we are talking more about a 'mental state of mind', a philosophy or an Agile approach than about a methodology in the strict sense.
The Agile mindset is often contrasted with the very widespread waterfall method, also called cascade method, which consists of following the specifications, clearly defined at the beginning of the project, without interaction with the customer until the delivery of the product.
This method offers very little opportunity for change or flexibility - unlike the Agile approach, which envisions collaboration with customers and frequent delivery of the software or product throughout the project.
Values and principles
The Agile Manifesto, written by the experts who created this trend, explains the values and principles. This approach highlights 4 important aspects:
1) Individuals and their interactions, more than processes and tools.
2) Operational software instead of extensive documentation.
3) Collaboration with customers is more than contract negotiations.
4) Adapting to change is more than following a plan.
Of course, just because this approach favours these four values does not mean it completely neglects the others. It is of course necessary, for example, to conclude a contract with your clients at the start of your projects.
In this Manifesto we discover 12 principles that arise from these 4 values. These are the ones we find most relevant:
Make customer satisfaction your priority:
This may seem obvious, but it is an important elementary principle to remember. To achieve this, you need to involve your customers in the development process. If they are involved in the project, you know their feelings and can adjust the project (if necessary) to make them 100% satisfied.
Positively welcome adjustment requests:
This is the strong point of this approach. Your customers can make changes to the project during the development process, giving them the product they really want.
Maintain an ongoing partnership with your customers:
By regularly collaborating and entering into dialogue, you are guaranteed to arrive at the ideal product.
Pay special attention to technical excellence and design:
As you can imagine, to make a project successful, you need to use the best possible tools to offer your customers high quality services or development.
Continuously improve your processes to optimize your customers' projects:
This is a very important principle of the Agile method. Take the time to regularly think about ways to work even more efficiently.
How does it work?
Planning an entire project is (or seems) often an impossible task, because unforeseen events and possible changes can occur along the way. This method is counterproductive.
That is why we recommend the Scrum method (part of the Agile approach), which recommends dividing the development of your product or the progress of your project into sub-projects, called sprints.
This Scrum method provides 3 roles:
1) The Product Owner: represents the customer and explains his wishes/requirements to the developers or project managers.
2) The Scrum Master: ensures that the team respects the Scrum method.
3) The development team: the people responsible for executing the project and in the field of IT development, the people who develop your product.
The Agile method follows several steps:
The customer, with the help of the Product Owner, writes a list of all the features and requirements they want for their product and prioritizes them. The result is a list of tasks to be completed, called the Product Backlog.
The development team selects the elements to be developed, the backlog tasks to be performed during the sprint and estimates the time and budget required.
At the end of a cycle (sprint), the development team presents the features to the Product Owner who will provide feedback. The customer will also have tested the preliminary version of the product and can then request changes, which will be included in the next sprint. This is a very important step because it determines the rest of the project. Once the sprint goals are achieved, you can move on to the next one until the entire product is developed or the project is completed.
At the end of each sprint, the development team and the Product Owner hold a sprint retrospective meeting. This conversation takes place after the sprint review and consists of taking stock with the aim of seeing which positive points need to be strengthened and which negative points need to be improved for the rest of the project.
This approach is flexible but still complies with certain rules. Once a sprint has started, your customers can no longer make any changes to the scope (i.e. the scope of the project: all applications and modules to be developed or tasks to be performed). They have to wait until the end of the cycle to see the desired changes.
To keep projects running smoothly, the Agile method recommends starting the day with a daily stand-up, a daily meeting in which team members explain what they will be working on that day and what difficulties they may encounter. Together they then think about possible solutions. In our opinion, working in a team is the best technique for providing high-quality services.
The benefits of the Agile method
You have undoubtedly understood: flexibility is the main advantage of this method. At the start of the project, you and your customers determine the desired functionalities or tasks that need to be performed. Your customers can make changes along the way to achieve the best results.
Because development is divided into sprints, your customers can easily adapt their project to their needs, delivering the product that perfectly meets their needs.
Better customer relationships:
With this approach, your customers invest more in their project. We remain available and communicate with them regularly to build a relationship of trust that we believe is necessary for the success of a project.
It is easier to set and adhere to a schedule and delivery time by splitting up the development of the product, rather than thinking about the time it will take to develop it all at once.
Better budget management:
At the beginning of the project you draw up specifications with an overall budget and at the end of each sprint you inform your customers about the budget already spent and the remaining amount. This means there are no unpleasant surprises afterwards and your customers can adapt the project to the available resources.
And at Deuse?
We decided to adopt this approach because it better reflects reality: unforeseen events and changes in development can always happen, so we want to respond to them. Furthermore, it allows us to build a relationship of trust with our customers, which is essential for us.
To correctly apply this Scrum method, our entire team has received training from Jean-Marc Ledent, Agile specialist and coach for companies, to learn the values, principles and operation of this method.
We highly recommend this approach as it provides better project and work time management, which is beneficial to both our clients and our team. We are 100% convinced of this.