Agile methodology in software development: best practices

Posted at 24 April 2024

Managing many projects at the same time is a common challenge for a lot of IT start-ups and SMEs. With limited resources and a small team, structuring projects and completing them within a reasonable timeframe can be difficult.

At its core, the Agile methodology embodies a set of principles and practices that prioritize collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. 

But what exactly is Agile methodology, and how does it work? Is it merely a framework or a comprehensive methodology in its own right? Understanding the history, principles, and best practices of Agile is essential for IT jobs, especially for developer jobs, those working in software development.

How does agile methodology work

Agile methodology is all about flexibility and adapting to change. While Agile is most commonly used in software development, its core principles can be applied to various project management scenarios.

By breaking down complex projects into manageable increments and embracing iterative development cycles, Agile empowers teams to deliver value to customers early and often, while remaining responsive to feedback and evolving priorities.

Is agile a framework or a methodology?

Agile itself is actually neither a strict framework nor a methodology. It's more of an overarching philosophy or mindset. Agile mindset emphasizes core values like continuous improvement and customer focus. It's a way of thinking about approaching projects.

Then, frameworks provide a specific structure for working in an agile way. A scrum master is a popular example, defining roles, events, and artifacts for project management. And agile methodologies are like collections of best practices that build on the agile mindset. Extreme Programming (XP) is an example, focusing on coding practices within an agile approach.

So, Agile sets the foundation, while frameworks and methodologies provide tools to implement it.

When was Agile invented

Software developers began questioning traditional methods and seeking faster, more flexible approaches in the late 1990s. Then, in the early 2000s, a group of influential developers met to discuss these ideas. It’s in February 2001 that the Agile Manifesto was created, a key milestone formally outlining the core values and principles of Agile software development.

Agile principles patterns according to the Agile Manifsto

The Agile Manifesto also lays out 12 principles that elaborate on these core values. These principles cover aspects like:

  • Satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcoming changing requirements, even late in development.
  • Delivering working software frequently, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
  • Building projects around motivated individuals. Trust them to get the job done.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
  • The most efficient and effective communication happens among the development team.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace.
  • Continuous attention to how to become more effective.
  • Simplicity is key.
  • Self-organizing teams create the best architectures et requirements.
  • Teams must reflect on their performances and adjust their behavior to get better.

How many roles are there in Agile methodology

Agile methodology itself doesn't dictate a specific number of roles. It emphasizes self-organizing teams where members can wear different hats. However, some popular Agile frameworks, like Scrum, do have specific roles associated with them. Product owners are also to consider.

IT agile methodology in software development

IT Agile methodology, specifically in software development, is all about embracing flexibility and adapting to change throughout the development lifecycle. It's a stark contrast to traditional waterfall methodologies where requirements are rigidly defined upfront, leading to less adaptability and potential for missed targets.

Software development Agile VS Waterfall

Let’s compare the differences between the agile methodology and the waterfall one.




Flexibility and adaptability

Projects are broken down into smaller sprints, allowing for course correction and integration of new requirements as the project unfolds. This results in software that is more adaptable to evolving needs.

Requirements are rigidly defined upfront in waterfall, making it difficult to adapt to changes later in the development process. This can lead to missed deadlines, budget overruns, and software that doesn't meet current needs.

Faster delivery of value

Agile focuses on delivering working features in short iterations (sprints). Customers can start using and providing feedback on the software sooner, leading to a more iterative and efficient development process.

In waterfall, working software might not be seen until the later stages of development. This can lead to delays in delivering value to the customer.

Improved quality and reduced risk

Agile's emphasis on continuous testing and integration throughout the development cycle helps identify and address bugs early on. And with frequent deliveries, Agile allows for early user feedback.

Bugs discovered late in the waterfall process can be expensive and time-consuming to fix.

Enhanced team collaboration

Agile promotes close collaboration between developers, product owners, and customers. Daily stand-up meetings and regular reviews foster open communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Communication silos can exist between different development teams in waterfall methodologies.

Better customer focus

Through user stories, user testing, and demonstrations, Agile ensures the final product aligns with customer expectations and delivers real value.

Customer involvement is often limited in waterfall methodologies, leading to a higher risk of developing software that doesn't meet their needs.

What are Agile practices: meaning

Agile practices are the specific tools and techniques used to implement the agile philosophy within a project. Agile methodology itself doesn't dictate a specific number of roles. It emphasizes self-organizing teams where members can wear different hats. However, some popular Agile frameworks, like Scrum, do have specific roles associated with them.

Let’s break down 6 of the best ones we can only advise to implement in your team.

6 agile best practices

1. Visible work management

Utilize tools like Kanban boards to track the progress of work items through different stages of development. It's about making the work your team is doing clear and readily understandable to everyone involved.

  • The visual aids like Kanban provide a clear picture of the work in progress, its current stage (To Do, In Progress, Done), and any potential bottlenecks.
  • Maintain consistency in updating your visual boards or chosen tools.
  • Establish clear communication channels for the team to share updates and collaborate. This could involve daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning sessions, or online collaboration tools.
  • Encourage open communication within the team and with stakeholders. Team members should feel comfortable discussing challenges.

2. Hiring a scrum master

Scrum Masters are also key players in the implementation of agile practices in IT, especially to teams that are not used to this methodology.

A qualified Scrum Master brings a deep understanding of Agile principles and Scrum methodology. They can guide your team in implementing these practices effectively, maximizing the benefits of Agile development. They facilitate ceremonies like sprint planning, daily scrums, sprint reviews, and retrospectives. They can keep discussions focused, ensure everyone participates, and identify roadblocks for the team.

3. Iterative development – Sprint planning

Sprints have become well known in agile practices. They are project development cycles during which a certain number of tasks are accomplished. These iteration cycles can last from 1 to 4 weeks depending on the Scrum Master’s decision.

Sprint planning meetings are held at the beginning of each sprint to define the sprint goals and select the work to be done. The team collaborates to break down user stories into tasks, estimate effort, and commit to completing the work within the sprint. Sprint planning sets the direction for the sprint and ensures that the team is aligned on the objectives.

4. Prioritization of the project’s steps

Splitting your projects into different stages and steps is a good agile practice to adopt to facilitate iteration cycle structuring. Your IT professionals will also be more motivated since they will have a tangible way to track each project's progress.

Focus on delivering the features that provide the most value to the customer. This ensures time and resources are spent on what truly matters, maximizing the return on investment for the project.

5. Seting up daily meetings (daily scrums)

Agile practices promote interaction and participation within a company. You should therefore set up business rituals that encourage these values. A good way to do this is with a stand-up meeting (also called a daily scrum meeting) between the main project stakeholders.

Daily stand-up meetings are short, time-boxed meetings where team members gather to discuss progress, plan the day's work, and address any impediments. During these quick meetings of 5 to 15 minutes, share what you accomplished throughout the day and the challenges you faced. This helps you stay up to date on project development at all levels and find solutions quickly if needed.

6. Test-driven development (TDD):

Test-Driven Development is a development approach where tests are written before the code. Developers write automated tests based on the desired behavior of the system and then write code to make the tests pass. TDD helps ensure that the code meets the specified requirements and improves code quality by encouraging modular, testable designs.

Which basic agile quality practice reduces bottlenecks

There are actually a couple of basic agile quality practices that can help reduce bottlenecks in your development process.

Limiting Work in Progress (WIP), often associated with the Kanban methodology, focuses on keeping the number of tasks actively being worked on at any given time to a manageable level. By limiting WIP, you prevent multitasking and ensure that team members can focus on completing tasks before starting new ones. This reduces context switching and helps projects flow more smoothly.

There is also Collective ownership. This practice emphasizes shared responsibility for the quality of the product. Team members with diverse IT skillsets can identify and address issues throughout the development process, not just during dedicated testing phases. Additionally, establishing clear coding and development standards helps maintain code quality and reduces rework, which can be a major bottleneck.

What are the benefits of agile methodology: 10 advantages

Agile Methodology offers a plethora of advantages that empower organizations to smooth their development processes. And it’s full of benefits. Let’s see 10 of them..

1. Enhanced adaptability

Agile's iterative approach enables teams to swiftly adapt to changing requirements and market dynamics. By embracing change as a natural part of the development process, Agile teams can promptly respond to feedback and evolving priorities, ensuring the final product meets stakeholders' needs.

2. Faster time-to-market

By breaking down projects into smaller, manageable increments known as sprints, Agile facilitates the delivery of working software more frequently. This accelerated delivery cycle not only reduces time-to-market but also enables organizations to capitalize on new opportunities and maintain a competitive edge.

3. Improved customer satisfaction

Agile places a strong emphasis on customer collaboration and feedback, ensuring the delivered product closely aligns with customer needs and expectations. Agile teams can mitigate the risk of misunderstandings and deliver solutions that delight end-users when they involve customers throughout the development process.

4. Higher product quality

Agile promotes continuous testing and integration, allowing teams to detect and address issues early in the development lifecycle. By focusing on delivering small, incremental improvements, Agile teams can uphold a high level of product quality and minimize the risk of costly defects.

5. Greater transparency

Agile methodologies such as Scrum prioritize transparency and visibility, with regular meetings and progress tracking tools providing stakeholders with real-time insights into project status and progress. This transparency fosters trust and collaboration among team members and stakeholders, leading to more successful outcomes.

6. Increased team morale

Agile empowers teams by granting them autonomy, ownership, and opportunities for continuous learning and improvement. By fostering a culture of collaboration and trust, Agile methodologies cultivate a positive work environment where team members feel motivated and valued, resulting in higher morale and productivity.

7. Risk mitigation

Agile's incremental approach helps organizations mitigate project risks by breaking down complex initiatives into smaller, manageable chunks. By delivering value in short iterations and regularly reassessing priorities, Agile teams can identify and address potential risks before they escalate, ensuring project success.

8. Cost-efficiency

Agile methodologies advocate for early and frequent delivery of working software, enabling organizations to validate assumptions, gather feedback, and make course corrections early in the development process. This iterative approach minimizes waste and optimizes resource allocation, ultimately leading to cost savings and improved ROI.

9. Flexibility and Adaptability

Agile methodologies are highly adaptable and can be customized to suit the unique needs and constraints of different projects and organizations. Whether it involves scaling Agile practices to large teams or integrating Agile with other methodologies such as DevOps, organizations can leverage Agile's flexibility to drive innovation and achieve their goals.

10. Continuous improvement

At the core of Agile Methodology lies a commitment to continuous improvement and learning. By regularly reflecting on their processes, practices, and outcomes, Agile teams can pinpoint areas for optimization and implement iterative changes to enhance performance and effectiveness over time.

How to improve agility practice in a team

Implementing these agile practices in your company will make your IT project management much more efficient. This organization is essential for new businesses that manage multiple projects at once.

Are you an entrepreneur looking to hire IT specialists familiar with agile best practices? At Fed IT, we help local businesses find the most qualified candidates for each job offer. Looking for a scrum master, a product owner or a computer programmer?

Entrust us with the recruitment of your future employee. Our IT recruitment agency will be happy to help you grow as a company!