Your Comprehensive Guide to Agile Workflow Methodologies

October 27, 2022
Alok Suman
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Regardless of the industry, the scope and the requirements for any project or campaign could change suddenly. This is especially true for large and complex projects.

When such a situation arises, the sudden requirement either needs to be disregarded completely or squeezed into a tight plan.

However, the right thing to do here is to embrace the uncertainty and build it into your process. This is where Agile project management comes in.

Agile methodologies help organizations be more adaptable and ensure that the project teams are always working on something important by breaking down a large project into smaller projects/tasks and prioritizing them. 

In this post, we explore Agile workflow management, its types, how Agile methodology is different from other models, the pros and cons of Agile workflows, and more.

What is An Agile Workflow?

An Agile workflow is primarily a philosophy that’s all about flexibility, collaboration, and iteration. It’s a response to the traditional and more rigid waterfall model of product development that became popular earlier.

Agile project management, in this context, is a modern project management methodology that aims to boost the efficiency and success of a project. An Agile workflow refers to a series of dedicated steps involved in the end-to-end development of a product.

In this workflow model, the project gets broken down into a series of iterations instead of occurring in one single, sequential flow. During each of these phases, multiple teams get involved in completing the designated tasks during a specific period known as a sprint.

As a methodology, the Agile project workflow contains four key values, including:

  • Working software over documentation
  • Individuals over tools 
  • Collaboration over contract management/negotiation 
  • Change response over plan rigidity

Put simply, instead of tailoring an entire product in one go, an Agile workflow involves teams breaking it down into different pieces that can then be tested and advanced separately before they move on to the next cycle.

This ensures that each part of the software will get ideated, developed, and receive real-time customer feedback.

Different Types of Agile Workflows 

Here are some of the popular Agile workflow models:

1. Scrum

When it comes to popularity, Scrum has the leading role in the Agile workflow processes family. The key focus of the Scrum framework is on delivery through incremental development to help reduce risk.

The Scrum workflow is primarily based on a repetitive approach, and the method emphasizes mostly continual improvement for customer satisfaction. Its workflow includes:

  • Product backlog 
  • Sprint backlog
  • Planning sprint
  • Sprint itself 
  • Sprint reviews
  • Scrum meetings

2. Kanban

The Kanban framework is most popular among DevOps and software teams, managing various incoming requests of different sizes and priorities.

Teams mainly use Kanban workflow boards to organize their work items and how they should flow from one workflow stage to the next. 

Unlike Scrum Agile workflow, Kanban is more flexible in approach and does not assign specific roles. While there are no unique work items or deadlines in Kanban, it monitors the overall amount of time that is in progress to ensure a seamless flow of tasks.

Overall, Kanban works with the objective of driving continuous process improvement and making workflows more efficient and faster.

3. eXtreme Programming (XP)

eXtreme Programming or XP is another Agile workflow model that works with the key objective of offering quality software and development teams. 

Among the general characteristics of XP include:

  • Evolving and constantly shifting software requirements scenarios in the particular project.
  • Use of various technologies to identify and resolve risks within a fixed timeline of a project.

4. Crystal

Crystal comprises several smaller agile development methodologies put together, including Crystal Clear, Crystal Red, Crystal Orange, and more.

Each of these Crystal methodologies features an exclusive framework of its own that is characterized by a range of factors such as the overall size of the team, project priorities, etc. 

Similar to other Agile workflow methodologies, Crystal also helps you address the need for the quick and prompt delivery of software, regularity, and higher customer satisfaction.

Apart from this, the Crystal Agile workflows also reaffirm the fact that each project is inimitable and necessitates the use of diverse processes and policies to be able to achieve the best possible results.

5. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

The Dynamic Systems Development Method or DSDM method is another Agile workflow that was developed with the aim of addressing the need for smooth and seamless delivery of software.

The DSDM agile methodology is comprehensive in nature and is properly defined and modified to create a detailed plan for software development from start to finish.

DSDM is mainly based on a business-driven approach and believes in the philosophy of expected project modifications and the non-negotiability of timely product delivery.

6. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

The FDD Agile workflow has the aim of prompt and consistent production of working software. Various recognized best practices are incorporated into this customer-centric, iterative, and incremental agile methodology.

The different stages of FDD Agile workflow include creating an overarching project model, developing and planning feature lists, and finally, building the product by feature.

7. Lean

Although Lean development is often grouped with Agile, it’s an entirely different workflow or methodology that happens to share many similar principles and values.

Among the main principles of the Lean methodology include:

  • Build quality in
  • Create knowledge 
  • Eliminate waste
  • Defer commitment
  • Respect people 
  • Deliver fast
  • Optimize the whole

How is Agile Workflow Different From Other Workflows?

Traditional project management workflows, such as the waterfall approach, rely mainly on a linear structure.

In such a model, an overall plan is devised at the beginning, and any one part of the project cannot be completed until the preceding step is done. Thus, nothing is delivered until all the stages are complete.

In Agile workflows, on the contrary, the steps are often undertaken and completed concurrently. What this means is that the completed work can be reviewed in real-time, continuously, and can also be delivered to the customer.

Unlike a traditional or linear workflow, where it can be difficult to adapt in case the project changes, or there are additional requirements from clients, an agile approach makes it much easier to take on additional tasks or reorganize the work with changing or emerging priorities.

Agile workflows help you deliver enhanced customer satisfaction because clients can be involved in the project throughout the process, offering feedback whenever needed and ensuring that the final product meets their requirements.

Apart from this, an Agile workflow has several organizational benefits. It provides a chance to look at process optimization within the business to identify parts of the workflow that could be improved or removed.

Overall, unlike other methodologies, Agile workflows are highly collaborative, thus helping foster strong bonds, better communication, and a powerful culture of feedback between team members.

Pros and Cons of Agile Workflows

In this section, we will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of Agile workflow:

Pros of Agile Workflow 

Some of the key advantages of Agile workflow include:

a. Quick Delivery

One of the key benefits of an Agile workflow is that it allows teams to boost their efficiency and deliver the final product much faster.

Since the development of any product requires ongoing efforts, the final outcome is always linked to fulfilling the increased demands and expectations of the target audience. 

Designing a specific solution based on an Agile workflow is an ideal solution as it means that Agile teams will specifically work on each iteration of the product backlog much faster to build the final product.

b. Adaptability

Since the final objective of any product deliverable (irrespective of the industry) is to fulfill end-user expectations, it is important to constantly alter features to achieve a perfect product.

The Agile development workflow process allows flexibility and lets you make changes at every step without having to worry about changes at every stage of the process.

This is on differentiating aspect that sets the Agile methodology apart from a more traditional software approach, such as the waterfall methodology, where one phase of the project is entirely dependent on the earlier phase or stage.

c. Collaborative

Agile workflows require consistent feedback between different teams, clients, and customers.

This makes for an excellent collaborative environment, thus breaking the silos down and leading to heightened collective creativity.

d. Continuous Improvement

When implemented properly, the Agile workflow methodology allows you to assess and enhance the design aspects of your product and functions a moment and not later.

This allows you to save a great deal of time and cost that is otherwise spent in modifying the features of the product or correcting the defects if any.

Depending on the individual interactions or based on the client’s feedback, you can keep perfecting your product without having to rebuild a completely new product version.

Cons of Agile Workflow 

While there are many advantages to using Agile workflow, there are certain disadvantages too. These include:

a. Lack of Particulars

An Agile workflow is ad-hoc and reactive in nature, which sometimes makes it difficult to pinpoint specifics such as costs involved in the project and project completion deadlines.

This can, in turn, lead to poor timing, bad budgeting, and a general lack of practical boundaries to work within.

b. Transfer Troubles

When shifting from one management style to another for an entire project or department, it may take time to get fully accustomed to the new responsibilities and style of projects progressing within the system.

Team leaders may find it difficult to adjust to the management style, although consistency and training are the two pillars that can help all employees adapt to new tactics. 

c. No Prioritization of Paperwork

The Agile workflow approach, in most cases, requires quick shifts from one aspect of a particular project to another. This may lead to de-prioritization of paperwork, such as record keeping, plan-keeping, and billing statements at each stage. 

d. Variable Goals

Since the Agile methodology focuses on many goals simultaneously, certain goals may be left behind and not receive enough focus throughout the entire project.

This kind of variable goal within a project or department can lead to a lack of specific goals for a team, which may cause issues such as inaccurate costs and unknown deadlines. 

To Summarize

Building an organization-wide Agile workflow enables you to easily adapt to constantly changing as well as emerging needs of the projects and ensure successful product delivery to the market.

To be able to create a smooth, Agile workflow, however, you need to first map your existing processes, followed by working towards improving them continuously. 

You can do this by leveraging various Agile management methods such as Kanban and Scrum. Implementing them the right way will allow you to bring much more agility, productivity, and efficiency to your workflow through better collaboration, adaptability, and transparency.

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