Understanding Agile Methodology Steps (With Pros and Cons)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 15, 2021

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.

Agile project management methodology is a comprehensive project management strategy that divides large projects into smaller tasks that are finished within short periods throughout the project life cycle. Teams that use the agile methodology can quickly finish tasks, adapt to changing project needs, and improve their workflow. Understanding the different agile methodology approaches and how they work can help teams meet their project goals within a short amount of time while maintaining the quality of their project.

In this article, we discuss the different agile methodology steps and how they work, offer various examples of the agile methodology approach in project management, and explore the pros and cons of the agile methodology.

How to use agile methodology steps

Here's a list of the agile methodology steps for you to consider:

1. Find a problem or need

This stage, also referred to as the envision stage, is where you develop a product idea by identifying a need in the market. This involves noticing a challenge among a group of people, determining how to solve it, and developing a strategy and team to create your solution. In this stage, it's also important to identify your stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone interested in how the project gets completed. Once you've found a project you want to embark on, then proceed to the next stage.

Related: 22 Essential Project Management Skills

2. Plan the project

Before you start, it's important your team understands the final goal, the value to the business or investor, and how they can achieve the set objectives. Once your team understands this, assign them tasks and deadlines to complete the project on time. Doing this ensures every member of the team understands the objective of the project and can start working towards achieving them.

Read more: Create an Effective Work Plan For a Successful Project (With Template)

3. Outline and prioritize your projects

In the early stages of a project, the team determines, outlines, and prioritizes projects, especially if they are large and completed in stages. Depending on how you organize your team, members may work on many projects simultaneously. At each stage, define the project and estimate the time and effort required for completion. Based on this data, you may analyze technical and economic feasibility and determine whether initiatives are worth pursuing.

4. Create a project roadmap

Project roadmaps provide a strategic overview of a project's primary components. They contain features such as objectives, milestones, deliverables, resources, and a scheduled timeline. This is an important part of the agile planning process because your team develops these individual features during each project stage. You can also create a product backlog, which is a list of all the elements that comprise the finished product. As you schedule periods of work, your team can review tasks and delegate from this backlog.

5. Release planning

There is only one implementation date in project management, which occurs after you've completed the project. While implementing the steps in the agile methodology, your project can use shorter development cycles, called sprints, with features released after each cycle of the project. Before beginning the project, create a high-level plan for feature releases, which you may revisit and evaluate at the start of each sprint.

6. Organize a sprint planning meeting

Before each sprint begins, stakeholders hold a sprint planning meeting to identify what each individual performs during that sprint and how they can complete their tasks. During this meeting, they also assess the task load. Doing this is critical to distribute the workload equitably among team members so that they can complete their assigned duties during the sprint. Record your workflow to ensure team transparency, efficiency, and the identification and removal of challenges.

7. Implement daily meetings

Hold short daily meetings to assist your team in completing their duties during each sprint and determine whether there are changes to be made. In these meetings, team members can provide a quick overview of what they accomplished the day before and what they plan to focus on in the present day. These daily meetings typically last 15 minutes or less, as they provide a quick overview rather than act as lengthy problem-solving sessions. To help ensure these meetings brief, some teams may even hold them while standing.

Related: How To Make a Meeting Agenda: Tips, Templates, and Example

8. Hold a sprint review

Following the completion of each sprint, your team can conduct two meetings. The first may be a sprint overview with project stakeholders to demonstrate the final product. This is a critical component of maintaining open lines of communication with stakeholders. An in-person or video conference meeting helps both parties establish a rapport and discuss any product difficulties.

The second meeting can be a sprint retrospective meeting with your investors to evaluate what went well, what the team can improve upon, whether the pressure of assigned tasks was too heavy or too light for each member, and what each team member completed. This meeting helps in determining how much your team can accomplish in each sprint and the most effective sprint length for future projects.

Examples of the agile project management methodology

The following are examples of agile methodology in project management:

Scrum

Scrum is a hands-on method of project management with components and processes that all connect. Here is a list of tasks a scrum team performs:

  • prioritizes a project or project roadmap

  • chooses one component from the top of a wish list, called a sprint backlog, and develops a plan to achieve it

  • performs their assignment in a sprint, which is a two to three-week period

  • evaluates progress in a meeting known as a daily scrum with a scrum master, who is the leader and keeps them focused on their objectives

  • closes the sprint with work that is ready to exhibit or ship

  • reviews the sprint that was just closed, then starts a new sprint

Example: Alice contacts a client to discuss the requirements of their project. The requirements are on the product backlog, and Alice chooses the most important activities to execute in the next three to four weeks. To prioritize work required for the day, Alice's scrum team analyzes progress and addresses obstacles in a daily scrum meeting. When the team completes the sprint, Alice shows or delivers the work and then goes over the backlog. They then establish the target for the following sprint until the project is complete.

eXtreme Programming (XP)

XP is an agile methodology for software development that aims to improve system performance and the overall well-being of a development team. This approach provides the client with their requests in the quickest way possible. Utilizing agile methodology means that the project team adapts to changing priorities and requirements as they arise.

Example: Alice creates a list of client needs by thinking about stories that define features from the user's point of view. They release the software in stages, with each update delivered every two weeks. XP teams comprise programmer pairs, with daily meetings to review progress and resolve any outstanding issues. The client continues to provide user feedback as the project progresses. They repeat this process until it's complete.

Pros of using the agile methodology

The following are pros of using the agile methodology for your project:

Adaptability

Projects may easily adjust and adapt while using an agile methodology because the increments between product delivery deadlines are minimal. This helps production to continue at an appropriate rate while continuously improving the process. Teams that use an agile production system can respond quickly to changing requirements, even from clients with unique requests and preferences.

Easy collaboration

Because agile methodology requires frequent feedback from clients and team members, it presents an excellent framework for collaborating with clients and your team. Managers encourage their team to adopt problem-solving skills and generate solutions for project obstacles as they arise while implementing a project. Utilising this method with your team can teach team members how to collaborate with others to create a better product by responding to feedback they receive.

Transparency

With the agile methodology approach to project management, prospective issues and process improvements become apparent with each production cycle. This system enables team members to address errors and enhance production details immediately. Because it encourages employees to act autonomously, it may shorten the period between identification of the issue and implementing an improvement.

Cons of using the agile methodology

The following are cons of using the agile methodology for your project:

Variable goals

Because the agile methodology focuses on many goals simultaneously, some goals may receive less attention during the project. Variable goals within a project can cause a lack of precise goals for a team, leading to missed deadlines and inaccurate costs. Holding regular meetings to discuss goals is one approach to keep variable goals from causing unneeded costs or missed deadlines. Another technique to unify objective expenses is implementing a spending strategy in the department so that cash flow follows a policy to reduce unplanned spending.

Less predictability

Because agile methodology depends on continual improvement and consumer feedback, the department may be unable to predict profits before production begins. Agile production prioritizes delivering acceptable products to consumers as soon as possible, making potential problems more difficult to predict over time. Using feedback effectively and rapidly during the process may raise the product's fault predictability over time, particularly if the team notes difficulties during the process.

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