Agile 101: A Brief Intro to Agile Development

The terms "Agile" and "Scrum" are often used interchangeably in the software development world.  For those who have never worked in a technical enviroment, the nomenclature can get a bit confusing, so let's start with the basics.  Before you attempt to understand the full scope of Agile Software Development, let's first take a look at the standard definitions.

What is Agile Software Development?

According to the Agile Alliance, "Agile Software Development is an umbrella term for a set of methods and best practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto."  Taking an "Agile" approach encourages cross-functional collaboration, self-organization and creativity.  The Agile Manifesto contains valuable resources and guiding principles that are worth exploring, such as the 12 Principles and a Subway Map to Agile Practices.  Agile project management focuses on continuous improvement, embraces team input and allows for more flexibility in order to develop quality products. Here's a helpful diagram we found from Agile For All:


Following the diagram above, an Agile product team consists of several types of people who work together on a ranked product backlog in order to create a finished, viable product. 

What does "Scrum" mean? 

When you hear the term "Scrum," typically this is referencing a framework that is used to implement Agile development. When implemented efficiently, Scrum is known to improve teamwork, communications and speed to market. The framework was originally created for software development projects, but the concept has proven to be effective for any complex scope of work. If you ever work in a software development environment, it's not uncommon to see a company hire an Agile coach to guide the team if they are in the beginning phases of Agile implementation. 

Ok, so what does an Agile team look like?

 Agile teams are typically small, consisting of five to seven members. Here's a quick debrief on Agile project teams:

  • Developers: Every Agile team will have a group of people who actually build the product. These are your programmers, testers, writers, UX/UI designers, and basically anyone who has a direct role in product development. 
  • Product Owners: Product Owners always have the end-user's best interest in mind. They are essentially the wheelhouse between the customers, stakeholders, and development team. The Product Owner attends every Spring Planning Meeting and helps identify requirements and prioritize tasks based on customer needs. They are considered the "product experts" in many cases. 
  • Scrum Masters: Scrum Masters are there to help support the development team. Their role is to ensure that the Agile methodologies are being utilized properly and consistently. They are the executors and often are the ones who focus on avoiding product roadblocks. A strong collaboration between the Product Owner and Scrum Master is ideal. Sometimes you'll notice a Scrum Master with the letters CSM behind their name, which means they are a Certified Scrum Master. Often, a Scrum Master is also a developer on the team, so they get to contribute to the code base as well.
  • Stakeholder: Stakeholders consist of any individual that has an interest in the success of the project. This is typically a very diverse group of people which can consist of end users, project sponsors, system administrators, legal counsel, sales team members, and subject matter experts. 
  • Agile Coaches or Mentors: Agile coaches or mentors typically have extensive experience implementing Agile methodologies and best practices. They are typically brought in to help guidance and feedback to the project teams. 

Interested in learning more about the role of Agile in the software development world? If you're planning to attend a coding bootcamp, like DigitalCrafts, be sure to ask if the program's curriculum covers Agile methodologies and best practices. Honing in on these skills will definitely benefit you as you begin your career in software development. 


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Natalie Elmquist

Campus Director, Atlanta