Scrum, Lean, Kanban – An Analysis of Agile Frameworks

As Agile continues to mature as a methodology – forged in the fires of real-world software development projects – a variety of Agile frameworks have emerged. Three of these – Lean, Kanban, and Scrum – are arguably the most popular framework examples in the industry. One of these “flavors” may work best for your team, depending on how it builds applications or the specific needs of a particular project.

So lets take a closer look at the top Agile frameworks to help your development organization make a decision on which one fits best. Good luck!

Is it Time to join the Scrum?

Project management pundit, Moira Alexander compared the three popular Agile frameworks for CIO Magazine. We’ll summarize her take on each of them, starting with Scrum, which is beginning to be used in other industries beyond the software development world. Scrum is highlighted by its predefined roles and processes – one example being that the project manager (or facilitator) is referred to as the Scrum Master.

Scrum’s major focus – essentially like Agile itself – is the faster delivery of high quality software. Since project teams are largely expected to be self-organizing, the Scrum Master serves more as a facilitator compared to a traditional project manager. Sprints tend to be more formal, as is the framework itself, which makes it suitable for organizations used to the Waterfall, but wanting to explore a flavor of Agile.

The timeframes of sprints are also more formally defined; lasting anywhere from two to four weeks. Time spent on daily meetings is limited to 15 minutes. Changes to requirements within a sprint are discouraged.

Go Lean for a Waste-free Process

The Lean Agile framework saw its genesis in the manufacturing industry as an attempt to minimize any wasted efforts on a project, while also offering a learning opportunity to the members of the project team. Lean strives for overall systemic improvements while preserving the integrity of the process.

In most cases, Lean demands an even more formalized process than Scrum, making it another Agile framework worthy of consideration for shops coming from more structured and organized methodologies. One exception is the lack of a specific timespan for each sprint. There is also additional flexibility regarding meetings and change requests – they happen when necessary.

Kanban offers the most Flexibility

A framework relying on visual workflows to explain and define the development process, Kanban also provides more flexibility than either Scrum or Lean. Developed in the supply chain world, many software development shops now make it part of how they write code. It focuses on completing the tasks within a project while always striving to improve the underlying processes.

Since Kanban teams are extremely self-organizing, a managerial role isn’t always necessary. There is also a high level of flexibility when it comes to project timelines, the scheduling of meetings, and change control. In short, whatever keeps the project moving forward and the process continuously improving is fair game.

This high level view of the most popular Agile frameworks offers a measure of insight on which one would work best at your shop. Be sure to consider the history and experience level of your development team in addition to your goals for the future.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and ideas from the evolving world of software development. Thanks for reading!

Does an Informal Approach to DevOps work Best?

The DevOps approach to an IT department’s organizational structure continues to make inroads throughout the technology industry. As companies strive to reach a continuous delivery model for both new software and code enhancements, DevOps seems like a wise choice for most. Increased competition requires businesses to embrace a variety of innovations when it comes to software development.

One recent industry study questions whether an informal approach to implementing the methodology actually works better than a more sharply defined process. Here is a closer look at what their study discovered. Perhaps the survey’s findings make sense for your team’s approach to DevOps or even Agile?

A Paradoxical DevOps Survey Finding

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Digital Research Team surveyed a wide range of technology enterprises on their process maturity, a concept essentially the same as the Capability Maturity Model first developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. John Jeremiah, a technology evangelist for HPE, wrote about the survey for TechBeacon.

The survey queried over 400 technology professionals at larger enterprises about their approach to DevOps. The ultimate goal of the study involved determining what processes led to success in implementing this new organizational structure. Finding out the maturity level of the respondents’ DevOps deployment was an important differentiator in the survey.

These four maturity levels included research/evaluation, pilot project, partial implementation, and widespread implementation. Surprisingly, the study didn’t show a correlation between the DevOps maturity level and a more efficient software delivery process. Diving deeper reveals a few answers that may help your own organization’s approach to DevOps.

Getting High Quality Code into Production Faster – with Agile

The survey noted those who took a more informal approach to DevOps – with many still in the research stage of process maturity – enjoyed faster release cycles with fewer code defects. These findings almost seem counterintuitive. Why are they able to write and test better software than those companies more experienced with DevOps?

The probable answer lies within one word: Agile. A vast majority of the survey respondents still researching and evaluating DevOps were already very experienced in Agile, especially compared to those companies higher on the process maturity level. Focusing on the strong communication and collaboration typical of an Agile shop is more important than the structures and processes found within a mature DevOps implementation.

In short, as we commented earlier in this very blog – Agile and DevOps make perfect partners. The HPE study notes that an informal approach to DevOps, focusing on a collaborative Agile culture, plays a key role in making the software development process more efficient. The study revealed those companies first exploring DevOps already used some of its typical tools and processes because of Agile. These include ChatOps, containers, automation, and more.

In fact, companies researching DevOps with the hopes of achieving continuous delivery would do well to “go Agile” before restructuring their IT organization. Reaching DevOps “maturity” by itself is no guarantee of efficient software development. As Jeremiah summarizes the study finding, “DevOps is not a destination; it’s a journey.”

Become a regular reader of the Betica Blog for additional insights on the innovative world of software development. Thanks for checking it out!

News from the World of Software Development – March 2017

Welcome to this month’s software development and QA news digest. As 2017 enters its third month, the application engineering world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. If you are interested in February’s digest, simply click on this link.

Hopefully, you are able to leverage these insights to improve or inform your organization’s software engineering process.

Software Engineering Trends going Mainstream

Earlier this month, The Next Web published a story from the software intelligence company, Raygun, looking at three software development trends essentially becoming standard practice. We covered some of these same directional shifts in our 2017 industry trends article, and it is interesting to see them widely adopted.

The growth of ChatOps to enhance communication amongst a development team is one trend Raygun noted. ChatOps even allows software engineers and QA personnel to kick off builds and automated tests from a chatbot interface, while the entire team stays in the loop. The use of bots works well for companies already embracing DevOps and a continuous deployment model.

Speaking of continuous deployment, it is another one of the trends highlighted in the Raygun article. An increasingly competitive business world places the onus on companies to build and maintain applications faster than ever before. Following a continuous delivery model allows firms to deploy new code several times a day.

The increased use of software intelligence was the third trend discussed by Raygun, which isn’t a surprise, considering the company’s main line of business. Leveraging this form of automated intelligence hastens the discovery of problems or issues before the customer.

“Software intelligence gives you the ability to automatically detect when a user’s experience was poor and how you can improve it, with full diagnostic details being provided for every individual user error, crash or performance issue,” the article mentioned. This new era of application performance monitoring is one worth watching by anyone responsible for public-facing applications.

The Principles of Agile Software Development

Late March saw the appearance of a Forbes article in our news feed detailing the daily principles of Agile software development. While this is more of an evergreen topic than “news” per se, anyone new to Agile would benefit from studying these concepts. Scott Stiner, the CEO of UM Technologies, a software firm focusing on innovative user experience (UX) design, authored the article.

Stiner highlights the fact that traditional software engineering methodologies – most notably the Waterfall – lack the iteration compatible with the modern business world. The high cost of finding defects too late in the development process isn’t a risk many organizations want to take. This, combined with the faster speed of business noted earlier, is a major reason many software shops have embraced Agile over the last decade.

Early delivery of prototypes and strong customer interaction remain a major focus of Agile. Changes to requirements are welcome; not considered to be scope creep as with older methodologies. Analyze the rest of these Agile principles to see if a change in how you write applications makes sense for your organization.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional news and information regarding the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading!