The Different Agile Frameworks and How to Select One

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Adopting an Agile philosophy can help optimize the software development process. There are several frameworks to consider, each with its strengths and weaknesses. When selecting a framework, it's vital to consider the unique requirements of the team to choose the best option. In this article, we define Agile frameworks, list additional frameworks, and discuss how best to select a framework for software development.

Related: Understanding Project Management Methodology (With Examples)

What are Agile frameworks?

Agile frameworks are specific methods of software development or project management that use planning, testing, continuous development, and integration while remaining consistent with the Agile philosophy. These philosophies encompass values that focus on flexibility and collaboration between developers and guide software development. The key values include:

  • Favouring individuals and interactions rather than tools and processes

  • Collaborating with customers over contract negotiations

  • Prioritizing software that works over comprehensive documentation

  • Adapting the plan in a changing environment rather than strictly adhering to one that isn't working

  • Focusing on constant feedback and the improvement of processes

Given that user needs or business requirements often change during the development lifecycle, the flexibility and responsiveness provided by Agile philosophies are beneficial. Teams can incorporate feedback into their process by dividing the development process into smaller increments rather than focusing solely on the delivery of the final product after the development lifecycle. The Agile approach is notably less arbitrary when compared to traditional frameworks associated with software development, with practices and rules minimized.

Related: What Is an Agile Project Manager? (With Crucial Skills)

What are the different Agile frameworks?

Agile philosophies have become increasingly popular within software development and project management. This has resulted in the development of different Agile frameworks. The most common of these frameworks include:

Scrum

The Scrum framework is one of the most popular frameworks and has inspired many variants. The team-oriented framework breaks the project into smaller tasks, aiming to complete each task during a short development cycle. Each development cycle typically comprises five phases: defining, planning, developing, testing, and reviewing. Scrum focuses on encouraging the production team to incorporate feedback into incomplete tasks and deliver the first product as soon as possible.

Kanban

The Kanban framework, like Scrum, is a team-oriented approach. It's an incremental approach to software development, although it's also become increasingly popular in project management. Kanban relies on total transparency in the development team regarding work capacity and progress. The framework uses Kanban boards, which provide a visual tool to help balance capacity with demand. The team reports tasks on the board along with their status or progress. This framework is convenient for projects in maintenance phases, where there aren't as many change requests and the workflow is consistent.

Scrumban

This hybrid framework combines elements of Scrum and Kanban. It's a team-orientated framework that can negate the need for a project manager or team leader if used to its potential. The Scrumban framework creates team structure and agility while increasing productivity. Under the framework, teams aim to prioritize consistency and optimization. Teams that want to minimize work batching while operating a pull-based system can benefit from using Scrumban.

Nexus

Specifically designed for professionals in software development in information technologies, the Nexus framework focuses on increasing software development speed. It aims to use short, frequent cycles to minimize integration issues and the complexities of cross-team dependencies to deliver a complex multi-platform product. Nexus uses the Scrum framework as a foundation, extending it only where necessary to facilitate multiple teams working from the same product backlog. Typically, a Nexus group has three to nine Scrum teams working together to deliver a single product.

SAFe

Another name for the SAFe framework is the Scaled Agile framework. It focuses specifically on large teams, aiming to develop stronger teams through team member engagement and cost efficiencies. The SAFe framework targets products more than the other frameworks discussed and contains a set of organizational and workflow patterns that, when implemented, create agility at an enterprise level. SAFe derives from 10 principles that aim to align the right people within an enterprise and deliver high-quality solutions to customers.

Crystal

Unlike the other frameworks, the Crystal framework doesn't have any firm rules attached. Teams within the same workplace working on short-term projects can benefit from the Crystal framework. Instead of focusing on processes and tools, this framework focuses on the individual and their interactions. Crystal has two core principles:

  • Teams find ways to optimize and improve their workflows.

  • The team is in the best position to determine their own workflow and processes because each project comes with its own unique challenges.

Feature-driven development

Feature-driven development focuses on the development team and delivering the functionality that customers value. It's an iterative and incremental process, with status reporting often a requirement at all levels of a project, making it easier to track progress and results. The regular updating of project progress allows for the early identification of errors and means that customers can get updates on results and other information.

Related: Scrum Board vs. Kanban Board: What Are the Pros and Cons?

How to choose an Agile framework within software development

The size of the organization and team, the resources available, and the team culture are some factors you might consider when choosing an Agile framework. Determining the framework that best meets your needs is of fundamental importance and requires careful consideration. The following steps can help guide you when selecting an Agile framework:

1. Determine the objectives

The first step involves considering and determining the project's objectives and goals. By establishing the project goals, you're likely to gain a better perspective on the essential factors of the framework you select. Some frameworks focus more on information technologies, while others are more appropriate for non-information technologies. This means that some frameworks are going to be more suitable for your needs than others.

2. Make a list

Make a list of the factors that apply to you when selecting the Agile framework that you plan to use. This might include:

  • Size of the organization

  • Size of the team

  • Resources available for the project

  • Customer requirements

  • Needs of other stakeholders

  • Size and structure of the product portfolio

3. Consider the potential frameworks

It's important to have a basic understanding of the available frameworks and the potential benefits of each when making this assessment. Compare what each framework offers regarding your objectives and the list of factors that apply to your decision. Choose the frameworks that most closely align with them.

It's essential you understand there's unlikely to be one framework that matches your exact needs. Teams can adapt frameworks to meet their needs more precisely or choose a combination of different frameworks. It's vital that you avoid choosing a framework simply because it works well for another organization developing software.

4. Get input from the team

Once you have narrowed the frameworks down, discuss each with the team and get their perspective on the frameworks. The team is going to be working closely with the framework selected, so hear their perspective on the suitability of a potential framework. Be prepared to listen and incorporate this feedback into the decision-making process.

There are several ways of ascertaining this feedback. For smaller teams and organizations, a meeting is often the best option. If the team or organization is large, a survey of the relevant team members may be more beneficial and provide better information.

5. Decide and implement

Once you have completed this process, it's time to decide on a framework. It's key that you choose the framework that works best for your team and have the confidence to incorporate elements of different frameworks if necessary. Try to choose a framework that underscores the team's strengths and helps to improve any weaknesses. You might implement an Agile strategy transitioning from a more traditional Waterfall method, so it's helpful to select an Agile framework unlike it to avoid reverting to old methods.

Related: Create an Effective Work Plan for a Successful Project (With Template)

6. Evaluate the framework

A crucial part of the Agile philosophy is evaluating your decisions, and the framework you choose makes no exception. Take the time to assess the success of the selected framework. Track the productivity and happiness of your team as indicators of the framework's success. These and other similar indicators help assess whether the framework has a positive impact. Throughout the evaluation process, consider if there are ways that the team might adapt the framework to better suit their needs.

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