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Agile Modeling: Core Principles, Pros and Cons

Agile methodology, developed in 2001, is based on the most distinguished Agile manifesto, which introduced the core practices and principles. The Agile software development model is both a software development model and an incremental model. 

Agile can be defined as a set of methodologies followed by a team for administering a plan or project by sectioning it into different stages along with continuous collaboration with customers. Agile modelling is beneficial for developers to customise the software development process while fulfilling the developmental requirements. 

This blog will discuss the Agile methodology in software engineering in detail. 

Agile Modelling Defined

The Agile model is a software development approach based on iterative development. This method breaks tasks into smaller iterations or parts that do not require long-term planning. This project management style is best suited for projects with limited information on timelines, constraints or proper resources.

The project’s requirements and scope are laid out at the beginning of the development process, along with the planning of the number of iterations, the time frame and the scope of every iteration. 

In the Agile process model, every iteration is considered a short ‘frame’ that generally lasts one to four weeks. Dividing the entire project into smaller sections helps minimise potential project risks and reduces the project delivery time. 

The Agile methodology process involves a dedicated team working on a specific iteration of the complete software development life cycle. It includes the planning, requirement analysis, coding, designing and testing before demonstrating a working model to the client. 

The main values of Agile modelling include:

1. Simplicity 

The Agile models help simplify the software and its developmental process. Creating a diagram illustrating the plan and the related growth can help eliminate hours of manual coding and unnecessary work. 

2. Communication 

Application of the Agile process in software engineering favours communication between the developers, team members and stakeholders. 

3. Feedback 

Teams using diagrams for communicating the project life cycle allow stakeholders to give rapid feedback, eventually reducing the project time frame. 

4. Humility 

This Agile model value shows that every team member is necessary and plays a crucial role. It also stands for respecting other’s suggestions and ideas and acknowledging other’s contributions. 

Agile Methodology Types

Below are some types of Agile methodology discussed in detail

1. Scrum 

One of the most well-known Agile methods is the Agile Scrum methodology. This process breaks down the development phase into cycles or stages known as ‘sprints’. The development time needed for each sprint is dedicated and maximised, hence managing only one sprint at a time. 

The Agile and Scrum methodology is focused on continuous deliverables. Therefore, designers can adjust priorities to ensure that overdue or incomplete sprints are given more attention. 

The Scrum methodology has exclusive project roles for the Scrum team:

  • Scrum Master: The Scrum Master develops the master team, arranges meetings and handles hurdles arising. 
  • Product Owner: These professionals are responsible for making the backlog and prioritising any delays. They are also responsible for the functionality distribution on every repetition. 
  • Scrum team: A scrum team manages and organises the work to complete the cycle or sprint. 

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2. Extreme Programming (XP)

This method emphasises communication, teamwork and feedback. Its main goal is customer satisfaction and constant development. Like Scrum, this method also breaks down the process into cycles or sprints. A dedicated team is responsible for creating a productive and efficient environment. 

This method is beneficial in situations of constant and varying customer demands, motivating developers to accept the changes at any time during the development phase. 

The project is constantly tested in this method from the first stage through feedback, which progresses the system’s output. This enables the team to implement any customer requirements quickly. 

3. Crystal 

Introduced by Alistair Cockburn, cosigner of the Agile Manifesto, this method combines smaller Agile methods such as Crystal Clear, Crystal Yellow, Crystal Orange, and Crystal Red. 

Every method has an exclusive and peculiar framework, characterised by factors like team size, system criticality and project priorities. Like all the other methods, this method aims for prompt software delivery, less administration, involvement of users, and customer satisfaction. 

There are three main phases in this method:

  • Chartering: There are various activities involved in this step, such as carrying out feasibility analysis, making a development team, creating plans, etc. 
  • Cyclic delivery: This phase includes two cycles – the development team notifies the release plan, and the integrated product is delivered to the end users. 
  • Wrap-up: In this phase, the tasks for deployment and post-deployment are carried out. 

4. Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)

The DSDM method was developed to address the need for an industry-standard charter for smooth software delivery. It gives a comprehensive structure that is modified and defined for developing a plan, managing, executing and scaling the software development process. 

One of the main features of DSDM is that the users have to be actively connected, and the teams have the right to make any decisions. The techniques used here are:

  • Timeboxing
  • Prototyping 
  • Moscow rules 

5. Feature Driven Development (FDD)

This is a customer-centric, iterative and incremental Agile method with some of the best industry-recognised processes incorporated in it. The main goal of this methodology is to produce a working software in a specified time frame. 

The five stages of this method include:

  • Creating an overarching project model.
  • Developing a features list. 
  • Planning, designing and budgeting according to the features. 

6. Lean Software Development 

The lean software development Agile methodology follows the ‘just-in-time’ production rule. It represents the increasing speed of software development and reducing costs. The lean method is based on the following principles:

  • Eliminating the unnecessary: Things that don’t add value to the project are deleted. 
  • Quality enhancement: The control and discipline of the residuals are necessary for quality development. 
  • Creating knowledge: The team members are driven to document the whole infrastructure to preserve the value for the future. 
  • Defer any commitment: The team is encouraged first to understand the business requirements and focus less on planning the process. 
  • Early delivery: Provide value to the customers as soon as possible. 
  • Building integrity: This point emphasises the importance of respecting the team members with effective communication and conflict management. 
  • Optimise entirely: Create an accurate value flow by perfecting the development sequence to remove any errors from the code. 

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Agile vs. Waterfall Methodology

The table given below will help you better understand the difference between the Agile and waterfall methodologies:

Point of difference Agile methodology  Waterfall methodology 
Project scope Works well even if the scope is not well-defined in advance.  Works well only when the scope is well-defined in advance. 
Team  Has small or mid-size highly coordinated dedicated teams.  Has large teams, which might decrease the coordination among team members. 
Customers  Customers are allowed to be available throughout the project life cycle.  Customers are allowed to be available only at the milestones. 
Feature prioritisation  Issues are resolved, and features are prioritised based on priorities. This evades complete failures along with increasing funding efficiency.  No feature prioritisation leads to either complete success or complete failure. 
Funding  Works well by increasing the funding efficiently. Works well by reducing the fixed funding via up-front contracts. 

Core Principles of Agile Modelling

The core principles of the Agile framework are as follows: 

  • Model with purpose: Ask questions like why and for whom you need to develop the model. 
  • Adopt simplicity: Make sure the model is as uncomplicated and straightforward as possible. 
  • Embrace change: The more you understand the project, the more it grows. Rather than avoiding change, accept it and rebuild. 
  • Enable the successors: The people working after you might need to enhance the project when you aren’t there. Leave enough documentation for them to expedite improvements. 
  • Incremental change: Every model evolves and grows as the project develops. Minor changes in the model can cushion the blow of any significant change. 
  • Maximise client return: The team is responsible for delivering the best software that meets the stakeholder’s needs. 
  • Multiple models: There are several modelling solutions to choose from. Make sure you are choosing the best for that particular project. 
  • Deliver quality work: Meeting the expectations of not only the stakeholders but also the end-users must be the top priority. 
  • Offer rapid feedback: It becomes easier to understand the model loop with rapid feedback. 
  • Good software should be a priority: The primary goal should be delivering excellent software to customers. 
  • Travel light: The goal is to have just enough documentation, not too little or too much. 

Agile Modelling Stages

The Agile methodology steps are demonstrated in the Agile model diagram. Here’s a breakdown of the stages:

  • Gathering requirements: The development team has to gather all the necessary information from the customer. They are responsible for planning the time and effort needed for building the project based on which the economic and technical feasibility can be determined. 
  • Design the requirements: The development team will use high-level UML or user-flow diagrams. This is done to show the working and application of the new features on the existing software. Designing user interface and wireframing is done in this phase.  
  • Construction/iteration: The development teams start work on the project, aiming to deploy the working product. 
  • Testing/quality assurance: The team dedicated to quality assurance examines and evaluates the product’s performance, looking for flaws or bugs. 
  • Deployment: The deployment team deploys the working model to the end users. 
  • Feedback: As the team receives feedback from the customer about their model, they start working on correcting the bugs based on the feedback. 

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Benefits of Agile Methodology

The advantages of Agile project management methodology include: 

  1. The software delivery is frequent and continuous. 
  2. Customers are involved in the project lifecycle, enhancing satisfaction. 
  3. Customer feedback can be incorporated into the current product release.
  4. The stakeholders and the developers have daily interactions. 
  5. Designing a good product is a priority. 
  6. Changes are allowed throughout the development process.

Drawbacks of Agile Methodology 

The disadvantages of Agile methodology include: 

  1. Documentation is less in this process. 
  2. Sometimes, predicting the results is difficult because the requirements are not precise. 
  3. It isn’t always easy to anticipate the actual effort requirement. 
  4. For any complex project, resource requirements are challenging to estimate. 

Best Practices for Agile Methodology 

Some practices for effective Agile process model in software engineering are listed below:

  • Maintaining sprint backlog: A sprint backlog must be created at a planning meeting where the team members ask questions and develop tasks to complete the backlog. 
  • Self-organising teams: Having self-organising teams allows members to show their services to the team leader assigning work. This guarantees a strong sense of ownership and dedication. 
  • Maintaining burndown charts: Using a burndown chart can help the team estimate the time required for the work left. 
  • Organising cross-training: If a member decides to leave, the other members must be trained to carry out their responsibilities. 

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Conclusion

Agile has been built on customisation, prioritising the ability to adapt and welcome uncertainty. The Agile methodology techniques, conventions and procedures, thus, differ according to projects or teams while retaining Agile values and principles. 

If you are interested in building a career in project management, understanding Agile is essential. Explore courses teaching Agile methodology offered by online platforms and reputed institutions, and kickstart your professional journey today

Why do we use the Agile model?

Agile modelling is used since it helps ensure that the development team completes the project on time and within the budget. It also helps improve communication between the product owner and the development team.

What are the activities of Agile Modelling?

The steps involved in Agile modelling are: Gathering requirements Designing the requirements Construction/iteration Testing/quality assurance Deployment Feedback

How does an Agile model work?

The Agile model in software engineering employs an iterative approach to software development and project management. It makes use of feedback loops and test-driven developments for solving problems.

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