Until a couple of decades ago, project managers handled most software projects more linearly. This included a lot of testing after the completion of each software development stage. It led to projects’ inefficiency as there was little to no interaction between stakeholders and developers during each developmental or testing phase. No feedback process was adopted; any execution errors would be either ignored or started from scratch. This linear process increased the needed cost and time for project completion. Known as the waterfall methodology, it assumes that the client gives their feedback at the beginning of the project and can not change their mind at any stage of the development process. Thus there was a need to develop a more iterative and incremental management process.
Although now there are several software project management processes, the most popular methodology is Agile. As the name suggests, it is a flexible and feedback-oriented process. It has several subsets of methods like Scrum, XP, Lean, Kanban, etc. that differ slightly and are opted for according to the projects' requirements. It is essential to use the right process for a project to assure efficient management, increase productivity, and deliver better results.
The Agile methodology is a process by which a project is divided into several steps, with feedback included at every stage in collaboration with stakeholders. Deliberate iteration results in a better end product and helps the software developers stay in tune with the client's expectations.
The client explains the objectives and requirements for the developed software which guides developers into creating better projects and adequate solutions. With the agile methodology, it is easier to fix any issues before the product is delivered in its final form.
Although the Agile Methodology's fundamental values and principles are recorded in the Agile Manifesto, there are several different variations. Some overlapping concepts differ in their approach. Organizations can choose the one that best suits their requirements and goals. Outlined below are the more popular and widely used agile methodologies:
Kanban: It is an agile approach that allows the development team and stakeholders to visualize the project on a kanban board. This method enables the concerned personnel to visualize the ongoing processes and their results. Kanban makes the process flexible while the workflow becomes smoother and more comfortable to collaborate.
Scrum: It is considered to be the simplest method to follow and is preferred by organizations for lightweight and simplistic approaches. As an iterative methodology, it gives the stakeholder or product owner access and involvement in the project. The project is divided into sprints, a period during which the software program is developed. A sprint can last from 2 weeks to a couple of months, depending on the project's complexity. The product owner works in collaboration with the team of software developers and businesses to produce a Product Backlog, which is analyzed at the end of each sprint.
Programming (XP): It is an agile methodology that prompts developers to produce the perfect product. It is an extensive methodology that practices short developmental cycles, extensive testing of codes, etc. Its core values are simplicity, communication, feedback, and respect. Like Kanban and Scrum, it is flexible, it involves both developers and customers, and gives importance to feedback. However, it differs in terms of its shorter sprints and the fact that it allows more changes throughout the process than Scrum.
Although there is no “perfect” way to manage a project, it is better to choose a methodology that suits your business model. Agile methodologies are famous for the reason that their results are exponentially better: They save time by being flexible and accepting feedback. The core value of Agile lies in mutual respect and collaboration between developers and clients, meaning that any changes suggestions are welcome, driving developers to be more open and courageous to take initiatives. All these agile practices aim at reducing the cost and producing the perfect product.