As a small business owner, you deal with project management issues daily. The Agile Process is an alternative approach to project management. that many people find superior to traditional sequential or waterfall project management strategies, and you may find it helpful to your own business. The Agile Development Process is designed to incorporate feedback and better ideas during each development stage. Though you can apply the Agile Process to almost any development goal, it’s most commonly associated with new products or small business software.
What is Agile Software Development?
Seventeen software developers coined the term “agile process” in a 2001 meeting in Utah to discuss software development. The result of the meeting was the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which contains 12 principles that relate to customer satisfaction, software delivery, communication, the pace of development, simplicity, development teams, and more.
The Agile software development approach is iterative and incremental. The method encourages you to adopt adaptive planning, evolutionary development, fast product delivery, and flexibility to change, all of which should result in continuous product improvement.
Scrum Development and the Agile Methodology
Even though the Agile Manifesto introduced a revolutionary concept, it didn’t provide concrete steps for implementation in, for example, your small business. Over the years, though, a lot of competing systems arose to capture and reproduce the promise of Agile’s theories. One of the most popular is Scrum. This relatively simple framework stresses empirical evidence and practical changes based on shifting consumer requirements.
Scrum is a team-based, feedback-driven empirical approach with three pillars:
Here’s a thumbnail of how it works. Say you create a product backlog, which is a wish list for the new product. Your team now goes through sprint planning stages, in which the development team picks items from the backlog and determines how to complete them. Each item is given a set time frame when each item must be completed or solved. The team communicates daily (the scrum) until the item is resolved.
As each item of the product is ready to ship, your team reviews the sprint in a retrospective session. Your team then picks the next item from the backlog and begins work, equipped with the feedback from the prior sprint.
How Do Sprints Work?
The development cycle in Scrum is called a sprint. Sprints are predetermined periods of about a month in which team members commit to a final product release. During a sprint, your team directs all its focus and energy toward the sprint goal. Once the sprint begins, you can’t make any adjustments to the sprint goal. Your personal role as product and business owner is to give your development team flexibility to achieve the goal in the best way it sees fit. These measures prevent a drift in focus, which can happen when goals are constantly revised, wasting time and resources.
What Are Scrum Meetings?
The daily Scrum meeting is a 15-minute meeting in which your development team reviews progress made over the past 24 hours and plans the next 24 hours. If you’re the Scrum master, you make sure the development team is holding these meetings at the same time and place each day, although you don’t attend the meeting yourself. This ensures the development team can speak openly.
During the daily meeting, each member discusses what they did over the last 24 hours to make progress toward the daily goal, what to do in the next 24 hours, and what obstacles stand in the way. The daily Scrum meeting is an integral part of hitting project goals, as it creates urgency and focus from the daily deadlines and accountability.
If you’re the Scrum master, you also prepare an eight-hour long sprint planning meeting to discuss all major decisions in terms of goals, intermediate steps, and deadlines. This meeting ensures the development team fully understands your requirements as product owner. Both sides negotiate to finalize the terms of the sprint goal. Then, the development team meets to determine how to meet these goals within the deadline.
Roles in Scrum Methodology
Using Scrum, the company assigns workers specific roles to minimize confusion and conflict. The intention is an egoless environment in which the focus is on the product rather than on office politics.
In Scrum, there are only three roles:
- Scrum master: This person’s primary responsibility is to ensure the team adheres to the Scrum framework and rules by ensuring distractions are minimized, handling communications and issues between the product manager and development team, facilitating Scrum events, and managing deadlines.
- Product owner: This person makes the final decision on what the development team works on, with the input of the development team and customers, and also serves as the final arbiter regarding when the iterative process is complete.
- Development team: Consisting of three to 10 people, this team works on the actual product, releasing iterations until the product issue is fixed.
In Scrum, development teams are self-organizing and work independently on iterations. The development team has freedom within the Scrum boundaries to pursue its objectives in the way it desires.
Benefits of Scrum
The major benefits of Scrum are its focus on delivering results, the continuous loop between feedback from users and new iterations in response, the clarity of purpose for developers, and boosts in productivity. You may have found it difficult as a small business owner to measure a worker’s output and productivity. Scrum does away with this difficulty by creating a short period of high-intensity work where developers are able to focus on one priority all day, leading to tangible, measurable results.
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