Agile has been around since 2001 when its founding fathers published Agile Manifesto. It has become the status quo in software development, completely ousting Waterfall. How come Agile may ruin your app? Just like bacon: too much bacon — and your stomach hurts, can’t work; too little bacon — and you feel deceived, can’t focus.

How Agile can ruin your mobile app

To bring this into perspective: there are too many flavors of Agile. It’s easy to get confused, lose focus and cause havoc to a mobile project. However, if you are starting an app development project, I want to tell you right off the bat — Agile is fine 80% of the time. As long as you and your development team take it one bite at a time, and with a grain of salt.

Continue reading to learn how to navigate around most common mistakes in applying Agile for your mobile project.

1. Messed-Up Stand-Ups

Stand-up meetings are a signature attribute of the Agile approach. At the same time, stand-up meetings by themselves don’t necessarily indicate an Agile team. The important thing is to stick to the core nature of an agile stand-up meeting:

Agile App Development: Typical Stand-Up Meeting

By the way, did you know that the Agile Manifesto itself does not have a single word “meeting” or “stand-up”? What the Agile founders had to say on the matter is the following:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Notice how every meeting adds to the app development progress to improve stand-up meetings.

Best Practices:

2. Obscure Roles

Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder, and other team members — they all build your app. And everybody should be clear about everybody else’s responsibilities. Our advice is to articulate who handles what at the start of the project. There are too many Agile flavors, and too many shades of team members accordingly.

Agile Team

To bring in people that have never worked within the Agile framework is one thing. To gather novice programmers — is another. Those mistakes aside, you should look out for the following red flags:

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

3. Outdated Product Backlog

Your Agile team should always have enough tasks to work on and make progress with the product. After all, frequent deliveries are one of the Agile’s cornerstones. An empty backlog demotivates a development team and stops its momentum. No one wants a product backlog running low on tasks.

Agile Development - App Backlog

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Even though product backlog is Product Owner’s responsibility, it makes sense to help him in at the start.

Best Practices:

4. Lack of Retro

Retrospective meetings happen for a reason:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

The keyword in the quote above is “regular”. In an ideal world, retrospective meetings take place after every sprint. Team members reflect on progress versus expectations and work out a plan of actions. Check out this video on how a perfect retro meeting looks like:

Best Practices:

5. Toolset Chaos

Frankly, this typically happens with the teams that have just switched to a new Agile flavor: they start looking for new exciting tools. Like stickies on the wall or spreadsheets aren’t that good anymore. In all seriousness, switching to Agile doesn’t mean switching gear altogether.

Agile App Development - Toolset Chaos

Best Practices:

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

6. Two-Pizza Team Size

Jeff Bezos’ two-pizza team rule 100% applies to an Agile team working on a mobile app. As Jeff promptly put it, a team can be efficient if two pizzas feed all team members. Richard Hackman stresses that more team members lead to more links between people.

“The larger a group, the more process problems members encounter in carrying out their collective work.”

Psychology of Leadership

The cost of coordinating and communicating between team members gradually brings team productivity to a screeching halt.

Agile Team Productivity

Best Practices:

7. Underestimated Documentation

The most prominent advantage of Agile is you don’t need to maintain extensive documentation. Contrary to this opinion, some teams take it as no documentation is required. The Agile Manifesto states loud and clear:

Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.

We at Velvetech document everything to ensure project knowledge retention. Some mobile apps take more than six months to develop. You would imagine it’s vital to have at least some documentation for the mobile projects of such scale.

Check out how Scott Ambler, author of several books about Agile software development, compares approaches to documenting in traditional and Agile software development lifecycles.

Documentation in traditional and Agile software development lifecycles

Best Practices:

8. We’ll Go SCRUM! … No, Kanban! … No, XP! …

There are so many Agile types that sometimes it’s hard to pick the one that works best for your mobile app project. Team members may favor various techniques from different types of Agile: Kanban, Lean, Extreme Programming, Crystal, Scrum, etc.

The guys at Silicon Valley picked Scrum at one point. See how it went:

What matters is that everybody on the team agrees on app development processes, with or without some extra techniques from different Agile flavors.

Conclusion

As long as an app development team follows the best practices that I have outlined, the app will be a success — 80% of times. Come for the Holy Grail 20% of success to us. We’ll help you setup the Agile environment for your mobile app and other projects.

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