Agile and Scrum are buzzwords in the software development world. But what exactly are they? What is Agile, and how does Scrum assist the processes within Agile? What is the Scrum life cycle and how can it be harnessed by a development team starting a new and intimidating project?
Our developers at SF AppWorks are well-versed in various technological tools and platforms to help your business stay ahead of the curve. In this guide, we’ll explore Agile and Scrum, the key methodologies of Agile, and the software development life cycle of Scrum.
What is Agile?
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Agile can be described as a time-boxed, repetitive approach to delivering software. From the very beginning of the project, it builds software incrementally rather than delivering the application all at once towards the end. This software process is like tossing stones into a pile one-by-one rather than trying to throw a boulder.
Agile works by breaking down projects into bite-sized bits of user functionality called user stories. These user stories will be prioritized and then continuously delivered in brief, bi-monthly cycles called iterations.
On a basic level, Agile allows someone with a lot to do and not enough time to do it to prioritize. For example, one may begin a software development project by sitting down and making a list of desired features. These features (user stories) are essentially the main to-do list for the project. Then, Agile’s estimation techniques can estimate the size of the stories in the context of each other. This gives you an educated guess of how long each user story will take to develop.
From there, a company and their app developers can set priorities. Like with all to-do lists, there might be more to do than time allows. So, one can prioritize their user stories so that the most important user stories are developed and executed first and the less important tasks saved until the end, if time permits.
Then, one can start delivering value. By starting at the top of the list and working down, one can build, iterate, and get feedback from the user base or beta testers as they continue the process of optimization.
This is where the real value of Agile comes in. When the delivery process begins, two things may occur. One, you will discover that you are developing fast enough to meet your product goals, which is ideal. Two, you may have too much to do and not enough time. From there, you can limit the scope of the project or push back the launch date.
Agile is very useful because the processes of analysis, design, coding, implementing, and testing never end in app development. In other words, with Agile, it is possible to continuously deliver features as the app or software is refined and updated.
What is Scrum SDLC?
SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. Scrum is a framework that allows integration with Agile development methodology. The most lucrative feature of Scrum is the repetitive nature of the developing process it facilitates.
Developing an application or software can be broken up into several key phases. Each of these phases will result in a launchable set of features. Throughout each phase, work is done in two week chunks called “sprints”. During the sprint, the team holds a daily check-in call to report the progress from the previous day, discuss the plan for the current day, and schedule any breakout meetings that need to take place. At the end of each sprint, the client usually receives a demo of the work accomplished during that sprint.
The feedback from the user base will help reveal what problems are still occurring in the app, which makes it easier to change the plan for the app, if necessary. If you would like for your project to follow the main principle of Agile to a strict level, Scrum can be used to help you stay on the ideal path.
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Agile Methodology Steps
On a basic level, the Agile methodology steps can be broken down as the following:
- Step One: Define. Determine what needs to be done in the initial/current iteration.
- Step Two: Design. Plan how one will build the requirements into the project or product.
- Step Three: Build. Manifest the design.
- Step Four: Test. Verify that the project is functioning as it was planned and designed.
- Step Five: Release. Deliver the project and launch the software.
So how does Scrum fit into these steps? The word Scrum derives from an activity that happens during a rugby match. As an Agile development method that focuses on how to manage tasks within a team development scenario, it relates to rugby players packing together closely in order to gain possession of the ball. This may sound a little strange, but the process actually works quite well for project development. Scrum is used to empower smaller (seven to nine members, sometimes less) development teams.
Essentially, Scrum makes it a bit easier to manage the Agile development process.
Scrum Life Cycle Explained
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Before we dive into the life cycle of Scrum, it’s important to look at the main roles in the process, which include:
- The product owner. This figure will take care of the user or customer’s interests.
- The Scrum master. This figure should coordinate and manage the entire process, as well as make sure that Scrum is being used correctly. This figure in the dev process will also hold meetings for the Scrum project.
- The Scrum team. These developers are the main showrunners of the product. Their tasks are programming, analyzing the steps, testing the product, etc.
The Phases of the Scrum Model
Step One: Creating a Product Backlog
A product backlog can be described as a to-do list that is made up of features that need to be implemented during the app development process. It is broken down and ordered by priority or user need, and each entry is called a “user story.”
Each user story has a unique ID code. The following list is an example of what user stories could look like for a project management application for an online story publication:
- ID: Z-001 User Story: Need to have the possibility to add, delete and modify tasks to keep an eye on the content creation team’s workload.
- ID: Z-002 User Story: Need to have the ability to add new tasks and modify the duration and start date of the current tasks using a simple drag-and-drop feature.
- ID: Z-003 User Story: Need to be able to assign two different forms of tasks to writers, including “Listicle” and “Full Article.”
Each user is described using a series of required fields:
- Importance. The importance of a user story can be noted with any number system of your choice.
- Initial estimate. This describes the capacity of work for the whole project, and is measured with story points.
- How to demo. This describes the process of how the end product will be demonstrated.
There are also optional fields to consider and utilize:
- Track. The track is used to change the priority of user stories of a particular type. This can be used to kick up the priority of user stories that relate to different aspects of the project.
- Components. A list of components can be changed during the work process.
- Requestor. This is a customer or end user who is interested in adding a specific type of function to the project.
- Bug tracking ID. This list contains all of the detected bugs at any point for one user story.
Once the project backlog is created, the team can move onto something called “sprint planning.”
Step Two: Sprint Backlog Creation and Planning
Before anything else, one should plan what the sprint’s duration should be. A shorter sprint will make it possible to release a working version of the app on a frequent basis. This will make it possible to receive customer or end-user feedback more often and reveal bugs to fix.
A longer sprint duration, on the other hand, will make it possible for developers to work on the project more thoroughly. In general, the ideal sprint duration can be seen as an average of these two extremes. In most cases, a spring will last around two weeks. During this phase, it’s key for stakeholders and development team members to communicate and cooperate. The product owner will determine how important a user story is, while the Scrum team will determine the labor costs.
Once this is finished, the team can then choose the most important user stories using the product backlog. From there, the team members will decide how to solve various tasks. The sprint backlog will then be created and is made up of user stories that will be focused on and completed during the current sprint. The volume of stories to include in the sprint depends on the number of story points they are assigned during evaluation. It’s imperative that the team can finish all of the designated stories in the sprint on time.
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Step Three: Scrum Meetings and Working on Sprints
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Once the user stories are chosen, it’s time to start the development process. In order to track the working process, a task list or dashboard can be used. Usually, large cards with the ID of specific user stories and a string of sticky notes with descriptions of single necessary tasks will be used.
The cards can be arranged by importance, which is recommended. When the team begins working on a task, the sticky note is removed from the to-do field and moved to the in-progress field. When the work for this part of the process is completed, the note can then be moved to the testing field, and then the done field.
This note board can be either a physical board or online software.
Scrum meetings are another important part of this step. The main goal of these meetings is to get thorough information about the project status. During these meetings, all of the team members should divulge information about the tasks they finished, which task is next, and what roadblocks or issues they ran into.
Daily meetings can help make the development process more flexible and predictable. It also makes it easier to communicate with everyone involved, including stakeholders, what changes should be implemented as the project moves forward.
Step Four: Testing, Demos, and Product Demonstration
The best-case scenario for each sprint is a working application or product. Because of this, thorough life-cycle testing is extremely important.
There are different methods to cut down the costs that accrue during testing. In one case, you can cut down the number of user stories. This could result in fewer bugs. You could also introduce quality assurance engineers into the Scrum team.
It’s important to remember that every sprint in the project ends in a product demo. The Scrum team can create a review and demonstrate the results of their work for that sprint. This allows stakeholders to make a decision quickly about future project changes before moving onto the next sprint.
Step Five: Retrospective and Continuous Planning
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The main goal of the retrospective is to talk about the results and decide what methods will be used to improve the development process in the next sprint. The Scrum team should make it clear what went well and what didn’t go well during the work process. When the methods of improvement are properly defined, the Scrum team can then focus on the planning for the next sprint in the cycle.
Agile is an integrated approach to building and delivering software, and can be described as a nuanced process or guild to follow. Scrum is a model framework that makes it easier to implement Agile dev methodology in a way that is repetitive and user-focused. Such a framework is ideal for small dev teams working on an application or piece of software.
Understanding the phases of Scrum methodology can help dev teams break up an Agile project efficiently and continuously.
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