What are the different types of agile methodologies? Which should I use? Well, you’re in the right place to find out. 

In essence, there are several prominent methodologies. All of which operate and are subject to management in a different manner.

In this article, we will cover all of the common methodologies, such as kanban and scrum. This will help you decide which is best for you when developing software.

Whenever you’re ready to learn about the variety of methodologies, keep reading.

Agile Methodologies: What Are They?

Agile methodologies are frameworks for managing the development of a product or service. They are often used for software development. But they’re also applicable to other types of work too (e.g., construction).

Agile methods prioritize people and interactions over processes and tools. This means that the design and implementation focus on creating solutions. Priority is set in an incremental way with continuous feedback from stakeholders.

Agile methodologies became popular as a response to waterfall-style project management techniques. Especially when companies found themselves unable to adapt due to their complexity and rigidity. This is common for products that were in the process of development already. 

The different “types” of agile methodologies include:

  1. Scrum
  2. Kanban
  3. Extreme Programming (XP)
  4. Crystal Clear Software Development Methodology (CSDM)
  5. Dynamic Systems Development Methods (DSDM)

Let’s take a look at each in-depth further down below. 

Scrum

Scrum is one of the most prominent agile methodologies. It relies on the use of iterative and incremental processes. It has a focus on delivering working software to clients in short release cycles.

Scrum has four rules:

1. The product owner is responsible for maintaining the prioritized backlog of requirements (product vision).

2. The development team creates an initial “sprint” plan.  This reflects how many items from the top of the backlog they believe can be completed during each sprint.

This establishes priorities for what is subject to development. As well as which features are likely to make it into upcoming releases based on time constraints.

3. The scrum master ensures that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

4. Each day at a stand-up meeting, members discuss any impediments blocking progress or contributing to delays while assigning tasks.

Scrum is often outsourced but driven by the internal team managed externally by a party with Scrum experience.

Kanban

Kanban is a framework for managing work using visual tools, developed by Taiichi Ohno. Further popularized by Toyota Motor Corporation in the 1950s. Kanban helps enable flexibility, eliminate waste and reduce overburden on workers.

The origin of Kanban is subject to trace back to just-in-time manufacturing practices at Toyota. During the times when production lines were equipped with pull systems that would deliver parts as needed.

Instead of predetermined set quantities. This simply means “Just enough, Just in time”!

In this methodology, teams are not bound up into an inflexible project plan. Instead, expectations are fluidly managed through flexible sprints or iterations.

This allows groups to move quickly from one task to another. Only depending on their availability and interest without wasting time on failed ideas.

The aim of Kanban is to work smarter, not harder. And by relentlessly simplifying the process of task management teams focus on their most important tasks.

They can do so without having to spend time managing other less relevant activities. Learn about the differences between Agile Scrum vs Kanban.

Extreme Programming

The extreme programming methodology in agile is aimed at developing software rapidly through an incremental process of short development cycles (timeboxing). Cycles are sure to be flexible and self-organized by the team.

This methodology is often described as a set of practices that emphasize collective ownership. As well as working code over comprehensive documentation and continuous testing. Finally, feedback, in order to meet changing customer, needs without wasting time on failed ideas.

The goal for XP teams is not to deliver perfect products. But instead, maintain a just good enough quality level. This results in continuous delivery of new features frequently while still maintaining customers.

A key component of this methodology is unit testing which helps ensure work done remains bug-free with no regressions introduced. But also checking edits made since the last run correctly ensures easy integration where needed.

These principles are in stark contrast to traditional waterfall methodologies. Specifically, where a comprehensive design is created and then followed by implementation.

The key difference between the two types of waterfall methodology is that agile encourages constant feedback through testing while traditional does not. Because it often leads to high project costs and long delivery times.

Crystal

The crystal agile methodology is another example of an effective framework of agile software development. Developed by Alistair Cockburn and named after the “crystal clear” practice of writing code.

Crystal is one of many Agile frameworks based on iterative, incremental, self-organizing teams. It has a strong focus on customer collaboration to produce high-quality products. Crystal is implemented through the use of test-driven design (TDD) and behavior-driven development (BDD).

The main principle behind this methodology is short iterations with feedback from stakeholders early in the process. Thus, allowing better decision-making about what features are subject to implementation next. This allows developers to work more closely together while still maintaining customers.

A key component of this methodology is unit testing which helps ensure work done remains bug-free with every iteration.

Incorporating unit tests into a development process is one of the best ways to keep code healthy. This testing will helps catch subtle bugs and mistakes early in the cycle. Thus, saving time and effort when it comes to debugging later on down the line or even just maintaining a piece of code that was written months ago.

Key Focus

Crystal’s key focus is collaboration with customers from start to finish. Allowing for customer feedback at every stage, but also having an agile product team that does not rely exclusively on customer input during each phase. 

Encouragement takes place to take initiative themselves so future workflows might be more easily predicted by developers.

Teams are very happy with their first real-world experience using Crystal. They are able to go from design through implementation in two weeks. That’s a significant increase over how long it would have taken them to use their old waterfall model.

This process is one of the surest approaches to making your code healthy.

Lean Software Development

Lean Software Development is another methodology that is heavily used in the software industry.

Lean Software Development focuses on optimizing or maximizing customer value by focusing on delivering working, valuable features to customers as soon as possible and with high quality.

It doesn’t rely solely on conventional risk-reduction approaches, such as inspections at every phase of the process. Instead, it relies heavily upon other methods for ensuring high quality without adding undue time to delivery cycles.

Some examples of tools for Lean Software Development are Kanban boards (using cards) and story maps. But also Story Mapping techniques like the Inverted Flowers technique.

Feature-Driven Development

In the feature-driven development of agile, requirements dissect up into user stories and features.

User Stories: the smallest unit of the requirement for a software project, written from the perspective of “as a stakeholder who wants to do some action”

Features: User story’s atomic subset that enables one or more related use cases (features)

When you break your requirements down like this, it becomes much easier to determine which requirements are high priority and what needs attention first! It also helps in dividing up work if multiple people need access to these sets at once. It’s easy enough to take care of everything with just two people when they know their next steps right off the bat.

In summary, feature-driven development is an excellent way for teams to juggle many different goals simultaneously. Simply because it makes the process of breaking down, prioritizing, and delivering features much easier.

User Stories

User stories are usually written in plain language (rather than describing features) so that anyone can read them. This is why it’s important for teams to hold regular meetings before starting work to ensure everyone understands their role, responsibilities, etc.

To avoid any confusion or miscommunication between members when establishing priorities, we find it best not just to write user stories. But also to create “user story maps”. Visual representations of all user stories at once!

This helps immensely because you’ll know exactly where your attention should be focused first. This is based on how much time each feature will take and who needs to do what beforehand.

User story mapping can also track your team’s progress.

This is crucial for agile teams. It shows how far along they are on each user story. But also whether or not there’s any risk of them being unable to finish the task.

In this way, you’ll have a better sense of when features will actually launch and what needs to happen in order for that goal to come true.

Dynamic Systems Development Method

The Dynamic Systems Development Method helps develop a system when the requirements are not fully understood. This method has been used by NASA to design and test space shuttles.

As well as other organizations that have a need for large-scale systems development. Specifically where they cannot accurately predict what is subject to need in future phases.

This methodology is also known as “DSDM.” It’s an iterative process with five steps: define, study, design, build, maintain. In this way, you can start without all the information required for one phase or stage. Because it will come later on through these iterations and stages.

You’ll spend time researching how best to go about defining your project first before making any commitments. So that at least you’re armed with some knowledge from preliminary research efforts instead of going in cold.

Since DSDM relies heavily on feedback loops between phases and since there are no predefined deliverables for each step (i.e., requirements specification). A focus on business value is important here. If something doesn’t work out then it can be removed from the project and replaced with something that does.

Tech Content for You

Now that you know the various types of agile methodologies, you are that much closer to deciding which is best for you. In any case, there’s really no rush and it’s best you get acquainted with each. Speak with your team and find out what they like.

If you’re interested in a variety of other tech-related content, check out some of the recommended articles on our website.

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Last Update: May 10, 2021