Agile methodology, how it works and what your product delivery team does every day – this is what a week for an Agile Development team looks like when building your product
What exactly do the developers, designers, the product owner and scrum master do during a weekly sprint when building your product?
As a client, you often only see the results appear. And, though you might have heard the word Agile before, you’re not always sure who’s doing what, when and how it all comes together.
So we’ve taken the 5-day work-week and broken it down, to give some insights into what a week with an agile development team actually looks like…
Agile methodology is an approach to software development that emphasises flexibility, collaboration, and iterative progress. It breaks big projects into short cycles called iterations or sprints, delivering functional software increments at the end of a certain time period.
In agile methodology, collaboration between team members, stakeholders and customers is extremely important, so the entire way of working is designed around transparency and continuous communication (great for clients, since you always know what’s going on and when).
It works great for speeding up real-world innovation: See our guide to the ultimate MVP method for e-commerce.
Agile is crucial in software development due to its ability to address the challenges posed by traditional approaches, which are often very flawed when a high degree of collaboration is required.
(The classic example of why you need Agile is the 1986 NASA Challenger space shuttle disaster. It blew up, publicly, killing many people, and afterwards, investigators found out that a lot of people at NASA knew it was defective and even warned superiors to cancel the launch. The traditional linear or T-structure working methodology was blamed for the incident, and new methodologies including Agile were born out of the tragedy.)
Agile’s iterative nature (building on successful steps) accommodates changing requirements during the development process – because we all know things change as you build. This allows teams to adapt better to change and deliver functional software in short cycles.
By doing this, Agile accelerates time-to-market and promotes customer collaboration, resulting in a better-fit final product.
The Agile team starts each week with a Sprint Planning session (with the sprint being a time-boxed period of work, normally a week). The Product Owner presents the items that were prioritised in the previous backlog, including user stories, tasks and features the team planned to work on next.
The team then does time-planning, seeing how long each item will take to complete so that they can focus on the right selection. Through careful deliberation, they choose the tasks that will deliver the highest value within the sprint's timeframe, formally adding them to the sprint backlog, which sets the course for focused work throughout the week.
The team meets very quickly every day to check in on each other’s progress, outline tasks for the day, and highlight any obstacles. Each team member addresses three core questions: What was achieved yesterday? What's on the agenda today? Are there any roadblocks?
This daily exchange fosters transparency, alignment, and rapid issue resolution, ensuring everyone is informed and ready to tackle ongoing tasks.
Throughout the week, team members roll up their sleeves and dive right into development. This phase is a mix of coding, designing, testing and teamwork. And they're constantly making sure that the code changes they make fit in nicely with the rest of the code by actively testing the software, too. These tests help find any problems early, so the software stays strong and reliable as it grows and evolves.
See an outline of the entire app development process here.
In Agile, teamwork is crucial. Team members connect to solve issues, share knowledge, and support each other. They chat informally, exchange ideas, and talk a lot. This open communication builds understanding, keeping the team aligned as they navigate development challenges.
There’s actually a specific person that helps foster this collaboration in the team. Learn more about why you need a scrum master.
In Agile, quality matters, and continuous integration and testing are key. Developers frequently combine their code changes with the shared codebase, doing this several times a day. This approach prevents problems during integration and keeps the software evolving smoothly. Alongside integration, automated tests run. These tests, like unit and integration tests, catch issues and flaws. This early problem-solving maintains the software's strength and performance.
As the week unfolds, tasks get done and features shape up. Once a feature is ready, it goes through thorough testing to make sure it's good to go. This process makes the feature "potentially shippable," meaning it works well and is reliable. Depending on how the Agile team works, these features could be launched during the ongoing sprint or at its end. This careful timing lets the team move smoothly from planning to making things work, giving each sprint a clear step forward.
In the middle of the week, a crucial part of Agile happens: Backlog Refinement. Here, the team and the product owner join forces to carefully look at and improve the backlog items for the upcoming sprints. This review covers a range of tasks, like adding new user stories, making existing ones clearer or better estimated, and adjusting priorities to fit new needs.
Reviewing the backlog like this keeps the team in sync with changing project needs and helps them make smart choices for the next sprints.
As the week winds down, the Agile team comes together to show the results of the sprint’s work to stakeholders, including product owners, managers, and others with a stake in the project.
This visual presentation gives these stakeholders a clear picture of how things are progressing and where the project is headed. Importantly, this meeting is a chance for them to share their thoughts, adding valuable perspectives that shape the direction of the project moving forward.
As the week wraps up, the team have an introspective meeting to assess the recent sprint. They dive into the highs and lows, discussing what went well and what could be better. This open dialogue covers everything, from smooth aspects to areas that need some extra attention.
By dissecting the sprint like this, the team uncovers valuable lessons, identifies spots for improvement, and shapes strategies to boost the effectiveness of the upcoming sprints.
Cycling back, the team meets to plan the next sprint. They delve into the backlog items, handpicking a set of goals that will propel the upcoming sprint. This cyclic renewal reinforces the iterative pulse at the core of Agile development. It empowers the team to continuously fine-tune their approach, adapting to the changing needs of the project with each new cycle.
Plus: Did you know you can build 3 times faster? See how long it takes to build a low-code app. Also see how we bolstered engagement and conversions on SA's No 1 digital job management system, ServCraft.
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