Synchronization of Agile Methodologies with the Pandemic

There is no doubt that the world is going through hard times. The global pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. Along with the human life cost which is impossible to calculate, the pandemic has put the world into a financial crisis. The Government is trying hard to reduce the corona cases through rules such as social distancing, etc. Due to this, companies, businesses and industry sector had to face a big full stop except software industry. In order to overcome this situation, IT companies have moved to work-from-home business models. Work-from-home came out to be the best fit for IT sector. The result of this model is better as far as the current crisis is concerned but not as productive as before. Hence, Agile Methodologies tuned with work-from-home has played a major role to increase productivity in the pandemic. But, how does it apply during the pandemic? 

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What is Agile Methodology? 

Agile methodology is an approach followed for any project management in the software industry. Generally, it includes software development using Agile processes. The main idea behind this method is to deliver the product faster to the customer and with minimum trouble. In particular, an Agile team is assigned for a specific software development. Agile processes assist the team to develop a particular software or product in a constructive manner. Agile methodology believes in delivering any software in small but incremental bits known as “sprints” instead of launching the whole software in a single shot.

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Agile Principles 

1. Early and Continuous Delivery of Valuable Software:- 

The first principle says, “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”. Most importantly, we are using someone else’s time and money to develop software. So, if we will deliver it late, we may lose a valuable customer. In addition to this, each delivery should add some value to the software.

2. Embrace Change:-  

The second principle states, “Welcome changing requirements, even in late development”. Agile processes tackle changes as per customers requirement. We can’t predict the last minute requirement of any software. Agile promotes to welcome the change. Ultimately, this will provide cut throat advantage to the customer to stay up in the changing market. On the other hand, businesses hate surprises. But, what they hate the most is wasting money on an irrelevant product.

3. Frequent Delivery:- 

The next principle is to “Deliver working software regularly, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.” The above principle is similar to first one. As an illustration, it defines what continuous delivery means. It recommends delivering new version of software within short period of time. Doing this will generate fewer errors in software development. Also frequent releases to the client will give us early feedback from them. However, these days the timeline for delivering short releases is decreased from few months to few weeks.

4. Business and Developers Together:- 

The principle states, “Business people and developers must work daily throughout the project.” Developers are often laid up by the business people. Analysts serve as translating medium between developers and business people. Agile stimulates the organization to remove these barriers and let the developers and business people interact with each other on a daily basis. This will increase the understanding and mutual respect between them. Ultimately, increasing the productivity of the project.

5. Motivated Individuals:- 

The next principle states, “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” An Agile team consists of responsible team members to produce quality software. Trust is required in order to build such a team. Correct coaching, good environment, and motivated developers can do wonders in a project. On the other hand, if you work with a team that isn’t motivated then you are most likely to fail.

6. Face-to-Face Conversation:- 

“The most efficient method of information to and within is face-to-face conversation.” Since the last decade, the rapid growth of technology has changed the way we interact. Technologies like Slack and WhatsApp have provided a simultaneous way of communication. In addition to this, Skype and Zoom calls have been the need of the hour during these pandemic times. Though these are not 100% face-to-face but, equally efficient and effective. 

7. Working Software:- 

“Working software is the primary measure of progress.” Software development takes time. This agile principle states that the primary factor to measure the progress is the working software. Shiny presentations, blue-prints, surveys, have no meaning if you have not converted them into working software. If you fail to provide the working model then you are not creating a value for your customer.

8. Technical Excellence:- 

“Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design improves agility.” Companies focus to market the software. Marketing sometimes overshadows the technical design of the software which is equally important for long term business. In small projects we can go for fast delivery of software without having a close eye to the technical design. But, for big projects it is a matter of concern. If this is neglected for a long time, then ability of the product to change according to the market needs will diminish soon. Hence, it will lack agility. 

9. Simplicity:- 

“Simplicity is the art of maximizing the amount of work not done.” Simplicity in managing and developing a software which delivers more value to the customers. We can acquire simplicity in both project management and development by modification in various operations. These include using RPA to automate repetitive work, using libraries for coding and much more. 

10. Self Organizing Teams:- 

This principle states that, “The best planning, requirements, and designs comes out from self organized teams.” Teams in every organization, small or big should learn to organize themselves. They should check all the dots starting from coding quality software, communicating with business people, to organize their work. Altogether, this principle influences an individual to become self organized and as a result deliver quality work.

11. Regular Reflection and Adjustments:- 

The last principle says, “At regular intervals, the team should reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust its behavior accordingly.” It means, the self organizing teams should mold themselves to current market needs. However, no teams are perfect. As a matter of fact, an Agile team is ready for frequent changes. They also detect internal issues and take preventive actions so as to overcome these.

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Agile in Pandemic Times

Agile methodologies have significantly provided better business structure in these pandemic times. Teams build using agile processes make decisions at the required time without waiting for the managers. Due to the current crisis, organizations demand to react more quickly than usual. Hence, Agile model is the best fit during pandemic. Similarly, delivering one piece of a work in smaller intervals gives agile teams an opportunity to get honest and early customer feedback. To summarize, Agile Methodologies have pushed the economic curve even in these hard pandemic times. In particular, Agile processes provide ease of work, whether you are doing a virtual stand up or a weekly review. Surprisingly, work done using Agile methods leads to faster delivery. Hence, work life balance is also maintained.

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