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Most Popular and In-Demand Agile Frameworks for Engineers

Published: May 6, 2022
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When we talk about software development, we are talking about a process during which we conceive, specify, design, program, document, test, and fix bugs after creating or maintaining products.

Developing a product as one monolithic unit can be too complicated and inefficient due to all the moving parts of the process. To address this problem, experts have developed methodologies to help teams develop products within a unified framework.

What Are Agile Frameworks? 

An Agile organization builds teams from different departments and uses resources from each to reach a goal. Although it typically gets used for software development, Agile can be used in various settings. The idea is that an Agile business can change and adapt quickly to move forward in developing new projects by prioritizing tasks from the very beginning with a uniform process. 

Agile frameworks are ways of working that combine best practices and advice on what data to utilize and how to approach bugs. Based on the success of Agile, as well as research on current industry trends, it is evident that the future of project management may also align with Agile ways of working. With that in mind, it is important for project managers to have certain methodologies on their radar.

One feature that has made Agile so popular is its flexible and iterative nature. When using Agile, companies can focus on the essentials without neglecting the needs of the product they want to launch. Development teams can also adapt their approach as the project advances and gain consistent feedback on the product.

Agile also emphasizes the need to iterate quickly while complying with customer needs. This consists of creating a short, collaborative feedback loop. The full philosophy behind this process is fully articulated in the Agile Manifesto.

The Agile philosophy also calls for “Sprints”, which are periods of time for the team to reach specific product targets. Sprints usually last a few weeks. During a Sprint, each team member works on a separate task or part of the project. After a Sprint is over, all parts are assembled. The team delivers its results to the client or stakeholders, reviewing the results and either signing off for testing or requesting changes. If the stakeholder’s order changes, a new Sprint begins.

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Challenges of Implementing Agile Frameworks

Several frameworks based on Agile ways of working are becoming more popular and for a good reason! However, while it can be highly effective for project management, transitioning to Agile can still come with some challenges:

  • Decisions are decentralized, which means managers and decision-makers may not have as much control over the project.
  • You must create an atmosphere of transparency while aligning the team around a strategic goal.
  • You must find a balance between building autonomous teams and allowing for natural dependencies across teams.
  • Teams are expected to deliver results quicker and more frequently than they may be accustomed to.
  • Many times, transitioning to Agile requires updating, replacing, and integrating your information systems to ensure transparency within the company’s communications.

Each of these challenges can be overcome with a combination of practice, training, and the willingness to learn from negative outcomes. 

Pros and Cons of Agile Frameworks

If you’re considering transitioning to an Agile framework, it is a good idea to keep the pros and cons in mind.

Pros

  • Client involvement is high from the beginning, which can result in higher client satisfaction.
  • As Agile teams work to short-term, iterative targets, it is easier to change the requirements and goals of the project when necessary.
  • Product updates are delivered frequently, so adjustments can be made early if necessary.
  • Sprints are a directly trackable measure of progress.

Cons 

  • The system only works if the client is engaged and interested in being involved. The client may not always provide constructive feedback, which could be an obstacle to teams.
  • Keeping track of changes is a must, which can be tricky depending on the nature of the project.
  • Requirements are not always clear for those working on the project.
  • Because goals in Agile projects can evolve over time, there is less certainty about the direction of a project from the beginning. This can be off-putting for managers and decision-makers.

The Most Popular Agile Frameworks

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): 

This framework combines Lean, Agile, and DevOps practices for peak business agility. SAFe offers direct guidance on three levels of the product delivery cycle.

SAFe can be a blessing to larger enterprises that want to enjoy some of the benefits of Agile. Because it is prescriptive, SAFe offers firm guidance without overhauling a company’s organizational structure.

It’s important to remember that SAFe prescribes many roles, events, and practices, which reduces the flexibility that made Agile so famous. But for large corporations, it may be helpful to present a predictable procedure to put stakeholders’ minds at ease.

One of the essential tools SAFe offers is its quarterly planning event, the “Program Increment Planning”, or “PI planning”. PI planning allows you to align everyone according to the organization’s goals for the project. It can help to expose dependencies between the teams and departments involved in the project, as well as develop a system of priorities to help you move towards your goal.

SCRUM Methodology 

The SCRUM methodology consists of teams meeting regularly to plan Sprints, have daily updates, demo the product, and review the project.

In this methodology, teams work in short Sprints that last between two and four weeks. The team creates a list of tasks for completing the product, known as the “Product Backlog”. 

Before each Sprint, the SCRUM team co-creates the list of “Sprint Goals” and selects the Product Backlog Items they’ll need to work toward to meet that goal. The team conducts short daily meetings to discuss progress toward the Sprint Goal and make any necessary adjustments. This is called a “Daily SCRUM”.

Completed work should be ready for release at the end of each Sprint. At this stage, the team holds a “Sprint Review”, where they go over their accomplishments, gather feedback, and discuss the next steps to take.

The final step is a “Sprint Retrospective”, where the SCRUM team inspects the Sprint and reflects on the process, what they learned, and how to improve it.

Kanban 

The Kanban methodology emphasizes flow and seeks to prevent teams from becoming stuck, blocked, or delayed. This framework is considered more flexible than SCRUM. It consists of a visual system for managing work, as well as a schedule of daily meetings, demos for clients, and retrospectives. 

Kanban uses a specialized “Kanban Board” to quickly move tasks between different stages of the project. This can be done using special software or even simple sticky notes. The Kandan board is unique among Agile tools in its focus on the “User’s Story“.

The idea behind Kanban is to have the team focus on fewer items and reduce the time spent in each development stage. As a result, the time between starting and finishing tasks is reduced.

Although they have a number of similar process options, there are many differences between SCRUM and Kanban. Choosing one over the other will depend on the exact project’s requirements.

Which Agile Project Management Certifications are Most In-Demand? 

Regardless of whether you work in software development, an Agile certification can help management professionals become better leaders and can even help propel a project manager’s career into senior management. The most in-demand and best certifications include:

AgilePM Foundation and Practitioner

This framework is ideal for team members with a direct level of experience in Agile and who want to eventually become managers. While working through this certification, they will develop the necessary skills and practices to assign the right techniques to complete projects effectively. They will also learn how to appropriately assign roles and distribute responsibilities among different department team members. The certification also directly discusses the different systems for governance and Agile project control, which will allow students to learn to test, estimate, and measure progress while covering projects.

AgilePM has two levels, Foundation and Practitioner. The former introduces the philosophy, tools, and practices of the framework, as well as its links to the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). This is ideal for less experienced managers, as well as Agile team members. At the Practitioner level, candidates learn about how to adapt and apply the framework for real-world projects.

PMI Agile Certified

This certification is ideal for managers already experienced with Agile who are looking to further their careers and advance to the next level of management. This certification can help a manager become more effective and be better able to choose the right techniques for each project. 

By working to obtain this certification, a manager learns to become more proficient in different approaches. This can include SCRUM, Kansan, Lean, extreme programming, and test-driven development.

Certified SCRUM Master 

This certification is ideal for those already leading a team but looking to improve the way in which the team’s resources get used. A “SCRUM Master” is the person in charge of making sure the team adheres to the SCRUM framework. They ensure that each role and responsibility is assigned and followed correctly. 

This certification will help students fully acquire the ability to manage and assign tasks, as well as to adapt when circumstances and needs change. The SCRUM Master is the leader of the team, so this certification is ideal for those who will eventually become team leaders.

Certified SCRUM Product Owner

This certification is ideal for those who are familiar with SCRUM techniques and are growing into the responsibility of managing the total outcome of a project.

The owner of a SCRUM product needs to be able to capitalize on the value of the result created from the SCRUM framework’s tasks. Product Owners are usually stakeholders whose responsibility is to make sure the team stays on target.

This certification will teach you how to manage a product backlog and communicate with the SCRUM Master about the essential details of a project’s progress. It is increasingly desired by SCRUM-practicing organizations, which makes this a very coveted certification.

SAFe Agilist 

This certification is ideal for managers or top-level executives looking to build more effective Agile teams.

This certification will teach students the essentials of scaling Agile and how to develop organizational and functionality patterns. Managers will learn to improve productivity and product quality, shorten release times, and increase employee engagement through this certification.

One of the particular skills learned while obtaining this certification is how to develop clear daily objectives. It also helps managers prioritize the customer and come up with answers that increase the company’s profits. These are all universally helpful skills to refine whether or not they’re used in the context of an Agile framework.

Conclusion

Studying one or more Agile frameworks has many benefits. It can help students acquire the skills they need to make sure projects are finished on time and on target. Agile certifications can help propel leaders into higher roles within their organizations, as they help build more efficient teams with better project management skills (a fast-growing need in corporations).

An Agile certification can help the members of an organization grow, improve leadership skills, and further a manager’s career.

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