Agile has been around since 2001 when its founding fathers published Agile Manifesto. The approach has become the status quo in the industry, completely ousting Waterfall and other software development methodologies.

How come Agile app development may ruin your mobile app? It’s like with bacon: too much bacon — and you’re in pain, can’t work; too little bacon — and you’re craving for more, 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’m telling you right off the bat — 80% of the time Agile is fine.

Keep on reading to learn how to sidestep most common mistakes in applying Agile to your mobile app projects.

What is Agile?

Agile is all about the pace of development process. A typical agile cycle is one- or two-week development sprint followed by a retrospective meeting where team members discuss what they have achieved and what they can improve.

Ideally, the result of each sprint is something tangible — a piece of app with certain features. Everything is geared towards soonest project delivery.

The agile development methodology focuses on communication between team members and on the product itself. The main agile principles line up as follows:

So if Agile application development is so product-oriented, how come it can ruin your app? Let’s see.

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 Agile app development progress, so 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 team roles accordingly.

Agile Team

To bring to the project the people who 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 the 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 of an Agile app development project.

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 is “regular”. In an ideal world, retrospective meetings take place after every sprint. Team members reflect on progress versus expectations and work out a roadmap for the next sprint. Check out this video on what a perfect retro 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 app development 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.

Some of the Best Agile Tools:

There are so many popular tools in Agile software development that every app development team is likely to find the one that will work best. Here’re some Agile tools we recommend for Agile app development:

But there are many more reliable Agile project management platforms. So choose whatever looks familiar and works best for your app development process.

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.

At Velvetech, we document everything to ensure project knowledge retention. Large-scale mobile apps can take more than six months to deliver. 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 app development, compares approaches to documenting in the 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 some app development processes, with or without extra techniques from different Agile flavors.

Benefits of Agile

If you follow the best practice I’ve outlined here, your mobile app is safe: Agile won’t ruin it. Instead, you’ll be reaping the benefits of Agile. What are the advantages of agile methodology?

Conclusion

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

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