A Comprehensive List of Agile Methodologies and How They Work
This article is a comprehensive list of the Agile methodologies and what they do. It will get you up to speed with the most common Agile methodologies.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Agile workflows have fast become a cornerstone of software development environments globally, so much so that the methods that underpin the framework have spread into many other disciplines.
Whether it’s helping a marketing team revamp their core strategy or giving customer relations a boost toward their latest service goal, Agile is here to stay.
Where to Begin, Then?
With that popularity in mind, it can be intimidating for a team to launch headfirst into adopting a new methodology that will likely upend many, if not all, aspects of their daily workflow.
To help you choose the best model for your team, compiled below is an Encyclopedia Agilica, if you will, of the most fundamental methodologies out there today.
Some lesser-known frameworks are also introduced, shedding some light on the vast array of ways Agile can and should benefit your organization with functional testing frameworks. Before you know it you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Agile coach!
This is the big one. Anyone dipping their toes in Agile waters will likely have already come across the Scrum methodology. Scrum has worked its way to the top of the methodology charts thanks to its focus on ownership and segmentation of development stages into smaller, more easily-deliverable actions called ‘sprints.’
From here, any task is a sum of manageable components leading the team step by step toward their larger, final goal. Sprints allow for timely adjustments to project goals and a foundation of constant communication between task owners, meaning that project realities remain current and transparent.
Things like meeting notes template and core documentation should be readily available to all so that reference replaces repetition. Anything that can help drive forward little victories toward the big win is championed in Scrum and Agile in general!
Kanban, from the Japanese term meaning ‘signboard,’ shares a lot of similarities with Scrum. Like its neighbor, Kanban utilizes the same ‘project breakdown’ approach but uses the visual communication offered by what's known as a ‘Kanban Board’ (pictured below) to keep everyone in the loop on statuses and deliverables within the task dashboard.
The Kanban Board is broken down into columns, where various tasks are placed depending on their progress that everyone involved can edit in real time. This ensures more time goes toward completion and forward movement instead of into constant review and ‘this could have been an email’ meetings to suck valuable resources.
Further, having that visual representation will help everyone on the team see where tasks have started to flounder or require more attention, allowing for all-hands-on-deck Agile Swarming until the wheels start turning again.
Extreme Programming (XP)
Another framework that utilizes sprints, Extreme Programming (or XP), offers some of the best buffers against unexpected changes or late-stage customer demands. Within sprints and from the start of the business process development, feedback gathering takes place.
It’s this feedback that informs everything. This means the entire team becomes accustomed to a culture of pivoting on real-world client demands and outcomes that would otherwise threaten to derail a project and seriously warp lead time production.
Any organization with a client-based focus will understand the tightrope that can exist between external demands and internal resources. Continuously orienting those resources based on external demands as they appear is the single most efficient way to achieve harmony. This is something that XP does organically once integrated into your development culture.
As you can guess by the name, XP primarily concerns itself with the software development workflow. However, it still has core principles on offer for other areas of business efficiency, given its client-centric realism.
Lean Software Development
‘Lean’ is exactly that. Trimming the fat from the development process is what this method is all about. If something doesn’t add immediate value, or tasks within tasks seem to be piling up, the laser focus of Lean Development steps in.
Similarly, Lean places the focus on efficient and harmonious teamwork. With remote and hybrid working adding potential complications to the development landscape of late, Lean’s focus on conflict management and a culture of respect can help meld teams that have found themselves scattered to the winds.
If rapid delivery is something you want to be known for, Lean could be the methodology for you. Keeping solid documentation around the development process mapping so that it can be utilized more efficiently, or even scaled, in the future puts Lean at the top of the list for a team focused on quick, surgical turnarounds.
In that regard, preparation is key. Having kick-off and operational documentation will get externals and freelancers up to speed quickly. This will make project onboarding an almost automated process that requires no additional staffing resources.
Crystal and its iterations — including Crystal Clear, Crystal Red, and Crystal Yellow — absolutely sound like generations of Pokemon from days gone by. Rest assured, though, choose the right one, and you’ll have no need to catch ‘em all.
Where Lean Development focused on efficient, no-nonsense practices, Crystal offers a similar lightweight approach, with much more flexible and non-committal rhetoric.
In fact, the Crystal methodologies at their highest level are about the team and self-determination. Crystal believes that there is no one better placed to decide the most effective way a team should work than the team itself.
Cultural consensus or even a prevailing leadership style can define a working environment. And hey, if it works, let it continue to do so! Crystal nourishes that seed and is person-centric enough to put communication, transparency, and accountability at the forefront of development.
As such, if you take pride in your established culture and want a way to formalize that without commitment to rigorous methodology, Crystal could be the framework for you.
Scaled Agile Framework
The Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe to its friends, is the ‘enterprise edition’ of Agile. Put simply, if your business has hit a growth spurt that threatens to become unruly or disparate, SAFe provides a means by which Agile practices can grow with you. It will also help you keep that growth manageable and productive.
The customer, and their needs, remain very much at the heart of SAFe, but it provides a playbook for roles and responsibilities within an organization to allow that to happen. Think of it like an Agile security blanket around your business!
Due to its nature as an accompaniment to business growth, there is a certain importance placed on leadership within SAFe. ‘Lean’ leadership, specifically, in that those in charge should embody the cultural values they have decided are in the best interests of a team and create an environment in which those values are embraced.
By now, you should be seeing a lot of crossover in the methodologies; both in core values and basic principles. However, there are a few instances where the melding is a little more explicit. This brings us to…
The Hybrids: Scrumban
It’s a testament to the success and relative simplicity of Agile and its various iterations that the second generation of methodologies has emerged: the hybrids. They offer the best of two complementary worlds by taking key elements from their parent frameworks.
Indeed, with an array of operational disciplines outside of software development going Agile, it makes sense we’re starting to see the inclusion of more ‘tweaked’ models.
Scrumban, a combination of Scrum and Kanban (would you have guessed?), utilizes the sprint structure of Scrum with the added bonus of the visual project representation of Kanban.
The core tenets of both methods combine here in a way that Lean would be proud of. Indeed, a successful Sprint review accompanied by visual confirmation of progress is a great way to keep all parties motivated and rally around the next steps.
The Hybrids: Scrum/XP
Scrum has also made easy bedfellows with Extreme Programming. The key benefit to XP is its feedback inclusiveness and client-centricity in the software development lifecycle. Where Scrum can traditionally be seen as the Project Manager’s method, XP rests firmly with the Devs.
Hybridizing these two, however, bridges a gap that needn’t exist in DevOps. Better still when their powers combine with renewed focus, Scrum/XP keeps the client and their ever-changing needs at the heart of everything. As it should be.
Scrum is a foundational means by which all collaboration members can rally around the project's current state. When real-time feedback is provided at every opportunity, there can be no conflict as to what the next steps should be. It’s quite literally laid out in black and white by the client. That way, you can kiss goodbye to any interoffice ego battles!
Finding an Agile methodology that’s right for your organization might seem like a daunting task to the uninitiated. However, while the list above isn’t exhaustive, it does go a long way to showcasing the flexibility and scalability of this family we call Agile.
Regardless of your needs, your business culture or ambition, employing the right Agile methodology will help you retain your core values and make collaboration easier than ever; regardless of what comes your way!
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.