In an age of rapid technological progress, staying competitive requires a change not only in your products and technology, but in the processes used to develop them. This is especially true in the world of software development.
In the past few years, the software industry has adopted agile development practices, which emphasize frequent launches rather than a few large product releases every year. Such practices help teams stay nimble and adaptable to rapid market changes. Two popular frameworks for implementing software agile development are known as Scrum and Kanban.
Scrum: With this methodology, the work is done in short bursts that are usually about two weeks in length, and it is divided up among people serving in three different roles.
The first role is that of the Product Owner, who is responsible for maintaining the business strategy for the product. The second role is the Team, which is usually a group of fewer than 10 developers responsible for building the product. The third role is known as the Master, who acts as the bridge between the Product Owner and the Team. The Master also ensures that the Team stays on task by preventing the Product Owner from introducing new requirements in the middle of a development cycle.
The benefit of this approach is that it allows the developers to do what they are good at while still enabling the Product Owner to drive the overall strategy. In addition, having one person act as a facilitator between the Product Owner and the Team helps to avoid wasted effort caused by poor communication.
Kanban: In this methodology, the emphasis is on continuous improvement and minimizing the cycle time. The work is planned out using “cards” that list the backlog of tasks that need to be accomplished. When a team completes a task, they simply take the next card and start working. Meanwhile, the product owner can add, remove, or re-prioritize items in the backlog at any time based on the needs of the business.
Which one should you choose?
Of the two methods, Kanban has less structure, which can be either a benefit or a drawback. In a very small team where communication is unlikely to be an issue, you can benefit from the added agility of this method. This is especially true if you are working on a brand new product that has yet to find a product-market fit, because you can quickly try new things, measure the results, and adapt. This allows you to easily experiment to find out what works.
In a larger company, the focus on communication makes Scrum ideal. When your company finds a product that customers like, this approach can help you focus on what works while maintaining good communication between the product owner and the developers.
Each approach to software agile development has pros and cons. Whichever approach you use, there is no doubt that agile development has numerous benefits over the old methods of software development, including more agility, flexibility, and improved communication with your team.