Technically, Agile refers to a family of formal project management methodologies. Each have their own unique terminology, but for the sake of simplicity, Agile can simply be understood as an adaptive working procedure that guides projects to completion through evolutionary development. Here at Portland Webworks we practice Scrum, an Agile framework particularly suited to software development.
Work on an Agile project will normally proceed through the following repetitive activity cycle:
Each full iteration of the above cycle is called a "sprint."As soon as one sprint is finished, the next begins. The sprint cycle repeats, again and again, until sufficient work has been accomplished, and nothing further is needed. The approach is intended to yield greater transparency, accountability, predictability and better communication.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Agile is that it forces the breakdown of a project into manageable chunks. These various chunks are tracked and managed using a tool called the "Product Backlog" (or just the "Backlog" for short). Essentially, this Backlog is simply a prioritized laundry list of tasks that the product owner (i.e., the customer) wishes to have accomplished.
Through the use of the Backlog, combined with regular communication, the Agile method builds-in tremendous flexibility. The approach permits the customer to adjust and re-prioritize features within the Backlog at any time. This essentially enables the customer to change the scope and direction of a project on the fly, as tangible work products and results gradually inspire better ideas and different decisions.
In the grand scheme of Agile frameworks, there are quite a few popular variations. Many were developed with internal project teams in mind, and not all lend themselves easily to the type of fixed- or ranged-price services we provide. Thus there are a few distinctive best practices that we have adopted at Portland Webworks to hone our consulting approach and control expenses to our customers, while still maintaining the inherent flexibility of Agile:
Through our years experience in software development we love the flexibility that Agile offers us, and our customers do too. Here’s a couple of the biggest benefits of Agile: