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Agile Software Development

Factors to Choose the Right Agile Development Method

Agile software development has become popular in recent years as the project success rate using the agile development model is better than structured waterfall methods. However, the survey record shows that 50 percent of projects which implemented agile software development, failed due to wrong selection of agile methodologies.

Moreover, selecting the most appropriate agile methodology for agile software development is a challenging task. Additionally, migrating to an agile method carries an inherent risk with it. But what are those factors of agile software development that drive the selection criteria of appropriate agile methodologies for projects?

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Let’s look into the agile methodology overview considering its factors through this blog.

Popular agile methodologies used in agile software development

There are many agile methodologies practiced in project management like

  • Extreme Programming  (XP)
  • SCRUM
  • Test-Driven  Development  (TDD)
  • Feature-Driven Development  (FDD)
  • Lean  Development  (LD)
  • Adaptive  Software  Development  (ASD)
  • Agile Modelling  (AM)
  • Crystal  Family  Group  (Clear,  Red, Orange,  Yellow)
  • Internet  Speed  Development  (ISD)
  • Disciplined  Agile  Delivery  (DAD)
  • Agile Software Process Development
  • DevOps
  • Kanban
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM).

Must Read: Top 25 Agile Interview Questions with Detailed Answers

Agile development model contains its own pros and cons based on the agile methodology selected for the project. However, in any agile software development, it follows iteration which ensures continuous delivery.

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Let’s look at some of the popular agile methodologies and their overview:

  • The Agile Manifesto

Brainstormed by 17 software programming professionals in February of 2001, the agile manifesto was developed for effectively build software. The manifesto is nothing but the agreed thoughts of the leaders which focuses on four values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Along with that agile software development which is supposed to implement agile manifesto must follow twelve manifesto principles and these are:

  1. Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery
  2. Accommodating changing requirements throughout the development process
  3. Frequent delivery of working software components
  4. Collaboration between the stakeholders and developers throughout the project
  5. Motivate, support and trust the people involved in the project
  6. Enable face-to-face interactions
  7. Considering working software as the primary measure of progress
  8. Agile processes for supporting a consistent development pace
  9. Attention towards technical design and detail  to enhance the agility
  10. Simplicity
  11. Self-organizing and motivated teams encourage great requirements, architectures, and designs
  12. Focus on how to become more effective on a regular basis.

Also Read: How to build a career in Agile?

  • Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming follows an agile software development model that emphasizes on a high level of involvement between the development team and the customer. The customer makes the user stories and prioritizes them for the development. Then the development team follows the continuous iterative model to deliver the user stories. Each iteration involves planning, programming, testing, and continuous collaboration. Furthermore, each iteration cycle typically takes 1 to 3 weeks.

This is an aggressive agile development model that ensures fast delivery. However, it is among highly disciplined agile methodologies which need extremely skilled project associates.

  • SCRUM

This is the mostly used agile methodologies in agile software development. In this method, the product owner prioritizes the iterative work based on system-wide functionality which is known as “product backlog.” In SCRUM, the iteration is known as a sprint, and it generally lasts up to 30 days.

In this agile development model, the scope creep is well controlled because once the sprint is committed and further development functionality is not entertained in that sprint. After every sprint the product backlog is analyzed and, they are reprioritized for the next cycle.

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Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

FDD is a development-oriented agile methodology which more focuses on functionality overview, design, coding, code inspection and build. It stresses upon product features and the development of those features. FDD controls the development in a stringent and timely way. This agile methodology mostly uses object-oriented programming languages such as Java. As a result, it needs a high level of programming skill. Besides, it needs time-consuming planning for overall development.

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Key factors of agile software development for choosing right agile methodologies

Project criticality and size highly affect the selection of agile methods. To select the right agile method for a particular project we need to consider several factors and subfactors as described in the below table:

Sr No Selection factors and subfactors  
Development Team skills
1 Development Team’s Communication Skills
2 Development Teams’

Competency

3 Development Teams’

Domain Knowledge

Customer involvement
4 Customer Collaboration
5 Customer Commitment
6 Customer’s Domain

Knowledge

Organizational Culture
Nature of project 
7 Size
8 Criticality
9 Decomposability
Project constraints
11 Cost
12 Time
13 Scope
14 Quality

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Let’s have an overview of each of these factors to understand how they take measures while implementing against a project.

Factor 1: Development Team’s Skills

Development team’s skills and capability is a focused area for any agile method. However, the particular skillsets may vary based on the organizations and their chosen agile methodology. Some of the agile methodologies need high programming skills along with effective communication skill for example XP, whereas others may not.

As described in the above table the subfactors are closely associated while choosing an agile method for a project.

Development team’s communication skill: Agile methodology overview describes it as a collaborative approach. Hence, the development team’s communication skill is very much responsible for the success of any agile method. This communication mode could be either direct or indirect depending on the project size and team locations.

Development Teams’ Competency: While choosing an agile method it is important to evaluate the technical competency of the existing team as well as their real-world experience in a similar domain. Besides, that agile methodology needs continuous and faster turnaround which essentially demands the development team’s competency. In this context team members, technical skill is an important parameter to choose the correct agile method as it is impossible for team members to know all the agile methods. Moreover, if an inappropriate agile method is chosen, the project will end up with an unexpected outcome.

Development Teams’ Domain Knowledge: Like technical competency, domain knowledge is an important criterion for the project team for the successful implementation of the project. Hence, inappropriate selection of agile method may lead to the poor implementation of the project.

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Factor 2: Customer Involvement:

As described above Agile Manifesto considers customer involvement more important over customer negotiation. Because they are the key sources to decide the scope, resources, any clarifications needed to expedite the project and last but not the least they possess higher domain knowledge. Hence, customers’ involvement is an important parameter to consider while selecting an agile method.

Customer collaboration: One of the 12 principles of the agile manifesto as described earlier prioritizes customer satisfaction through continuous and early delivery. However, that needs customers’ active participation in the project, high motivation towards project goal and their physical availability to the development team. Thus, customer collaboration is a major factor in selecting an agile method as different agile methodologies need a different level of customer collaboration.

Customer commitment: Customer commitment can affect an agile method. Uncommitted customers can severely affect some agile methods like XP. Hence, the selection of an agile method must be aligned with customer commitment.

Customer’s Domain Knowledge: Proper domain knowledge is also a key factor because if the functionalities are not clarified appropriately from the customer end, it may put the project implementation at risk.

Must Read: Top 40 Agile Scrum Interview Questions 

Factor 3: Organizational Culture

Adopting an agile method is very much under control of the culture of an organization. Because how quickly the organization can adopt the agile method that very much depends on its flexibility level. There are mainly four types of organizational culture observed in the industry which can be associated with the selection of the agile method and these are:

  • Hierarchical
  • Random
  • Collaborative
  • Synchronous

Additionally, the type of organizational culture dimensions plays a pivotal role in selecting the agile method. Different culture dimensions are:

  • clan
  • democratic
  • hierarchical
  • disciplined

Interestingly democratic culture is the most appropriate for agile methodologies.

Read: Agile Software Development – Manisfesto

Factor 4: Nature of the Project

Agile software development may be complex and may come in different team sizes and with different level of criticalities. Hence, the main three subfactors for the nature of the project i.e. size, criticality and decomposability must be appropriately evaluated before selecting the agile methodology.

Size: It is a known fact that agile methodology is most appropriate for a medium-sized project considering the testing phases. Hence, agile methodology in testing is an essential criterion because running continuous and fast unit and smoke testing for a small project is more manageable than a large one. However, if the project is a large one, then it will require other testing such as hardware and integration testing as well. So, not all agile methodology in testing is feasible or well fitted. For example, the ideal team size for some of the agile methods are as below:

Agile Method Project size supported Ideal no of team members
Crystal Orange method Large 40
FDD Very Large >40
XP Small 10
Scrum Small -Medium 6+3

Criticality: Project criticality is a crucial factor that measures the cost of the project. Hence, if the right agile method is not selected based on the criticality, it can drastically increase the project cost. For example, FDD is the best method for critical projects.

Decomposability: Some projects may be very critical which needs to be decomposed for an in-depth analysis of the project. Hence, in such scenarios, if we select the agile method which does not support decomposability, then it will increase the overall complexity of the project with paralyzing the solution.

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Factor 5: Project Constraints

Delivery date (or schedule), cost, scope, quality, and value are crucial considerations in any project implementation. The correct selection of the agile method with these factors determines the implementation success of any project.

Final Words

Hence from the above discussion, we can conclude that selecting a specific agile methodology for the agile software development project is a difficult decision for project managers and other decision makers. It needs a good understanding of the agile software development, agile methodology overview and their adaptation in a project. But how do you assure yourself in this ever changing industry as an agile expert? Probably an agile certification is the best solution for it.

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About Dharmalingam.N

Dharmalingam.N holds a master degree in Business Administration and writes on a wide range of topics ranging from technology to business analysis. He has a background in Relationship Management. Some of the topics he has written about and that have been published include; project management, business analysis and customer engagement.
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