My Agile Cheat Sheet – What is Agile and How to Use It?

My Agile Cheat Sheet – What is Agile and How to Use It?

If you’re new to the world of Agile, the concept of embracing a new work methodology may seem a bit daunting. This cheat sheet aims to provide the new comer with ample understanding of the scrumdamentals in layman’s terminology.

I’ll even include some tips of how to incorporate UX design into the Agile process as they are believed to be notoriously difficult to homogenize.

Let’s start with the basics: What is Agile?

Traditionally a development representative would meet with a product owner (client) for a brief. He or she would return to the developers and provide them with a spec. The developers might get to work developing the specification over the next 5 months and then deliver the finished product to the product owner. The client takes a look and says that this isn’t what he or she asked for. Or that he or she doesn’t like the underlying framework or structure often resulting in months of backtracking. This has proven to be an expensive practice.

Agile projects are broken down into small sections called sprints. Once a small section of the software is developed (be it website, web app or native app) the client is shown that portion of the project and provides feedback to the team.

Agile methodologies may vary project to project, but the underlying principles remain the same.

Terminology

I’ve included some explanations of some terms which I shall be using throughout the work process description.

Srum
Morning meetings where the team meets to discuss short term goals in order to get closer to their biweekly goal within the next 24 hours

Sprint
This is a section of the work that needs to be completed in order to achieve a completed section of a project which will be reviewed by the product owner

Scrum Master
This is the person that leads the morning scrum sessions

Product Owner
This is the client. It’s not always the person that is financially backing the project. He or she may simply be an ambassador of the company providing the financial backing. He or she represents the vision for the project.

UX Designer
This is someone that focuses their energy on ensuring that a system or website is user friendly. They would focus their energies on research, planning, drawing low fidelity drawings, receiving feedback and testing. A UX Designer often makes a good choice for a scrum master but this doesn’t necessarily need to be how an agile team is setup, provided that the UX designer made to be a part of the entire process.

UI Designer
This is someone that works in conjunction with a UX designer by developing user interface designs, prototypes and sometimes mockups. These can be tested by the product owner prior to development in order to prevent resources being wasted on divulging in the wrong direction. It also allows the client to gain a visual understanding of how the product will function gaining the team valuable insight prior to development.

Product
This is a broad term which in this instance represents a web application, progressive web application or native application.

Work Process

8 Steps to Scrum

 1) Pregame

Initial Meeting
A Scum Master, business analyst or team representative meets with the product owner to discuss the product requirement. It’s wise to include and collaborate with a UX (User Experience) designer during the entire pregame process as their user knowledge will positively impact the system usability.

Backlog Construction
This is where Product Backlog Items (PBI) are formalised. Traditionalists would recognize this as a spec and represents the

These are:

  1. Features
  2. Technical Work
  3. Bugs
  4. Knowledge Acquisition

Each PBI consists of it’s own:

  1. Description
  2. Priority
  3. Estimate

2) Four Roles

There are four roles that are required to be played during the Agile Process.

Product Owner
It is the product owners responsibility to provide the vision or the what?

Scrum Master
The scrum master’s responsibility is to ensure that the project runs smoothly by running daily scrum meetings, hosting reviews and retrospective sessions with the team.

UI/UX Designer / Team
Ensuring that the product is user friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Development Team
They create the code which will make the product work.

3) Three Artefacts

Increment or Sprint 
This is a portion of the work that needs to be completed in order to finish a section of the product which can then be revewed by a client.

Product Backlog
This is a list of desirements provided by the product owner.

Sprint Backlog
This is a breakdown of the task at hand and is worked on as a collaborative.

4) Six Events

These events loop through in what is known as the Agile Process until such time that the project is completed.

Sprint Planning
This is a planning session where the sprint backlog is drafted.

Sprint Iteration
This is where a section of the work is completed. It’s a good idea to have the UI and UX designers working one or two sprints ahead of the team in order to expedite proficiency.

Daily Scrum
Daily meetings to keep things on track. This is place where UI and UX designers can utilise developer insights into potential fallouts with their prototypes.

Internal Testing
UI and UX Prototypes can be tested internally by developers and testers to ensure usability. This is also another opportunity for developers to provide insights as to ways in which things might function better. Form should follow function, however sometimes a practical insight can help shift a collaborative perspective.

Sprint Review
Review the work with a product owner once a sprint is completed.

Retrospective
The team meets to discuss what could be done better or any potential issues that may arise moving forward.

How to use Agile?

Now that we know what Agile is, how do we use it?

The methodology can applied using the most basics of paper or excel, however much has been proven in the ways of utilizing technology for team collaboration on bigger scope projects.

Some of the preferred softwares to employ are Trello or TFS, both of which are free to use in small team environments.

Happy srcumming!

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