Importance of Agile Ceremonies in Software Development
The agile methodology of software development is a project management style that allows software developers, stakeholders, and users to communicate clearly and create useful software. Unlike other strategies of product development, agile lets the development team learn and adapt through the development process, which often means the end result is slightly (or greatly) different from what was originally planned.
The Agile Manifesto was written in early 2001 by a group of software development professionals who saw a change in the industry. The dot com bubble had just popped and these professionals were seeing software in a totally new way: through the eyes of the user.
Why is agile so successful and popular in software development?
Agile encourages communication, collaboration, and customer feedback as much as possible. The team communicates with each other and stakeholders on a regular basis, making collaboration between developers and the business a cornerstone of the process. Almost even more importantly, the users of the software see the product and continually provide feedback on the new features and enhancements. It's a cycle.
What are the ceremonies of agile software development?
After the product owner (project manager, in other methodologies) grooms the backlog, working with the business stakeholders to prioritize the features and releases, the fun begins.
The team plans the sprint based on the work they can actually get done in the allotted time. While a lot of development teams will work in two-week increments, it's not written in stone. Small teams may find working in weekly sprints is most effective. Other teams with large projects may discover a month-long sprint allows them to get the most work done.
The team should decide the sprint length whenever possible, but business needs and expectations often influence this.
Communication is so important in software development (like most things in life). Agile teams often meet daily to make sure they are moving toward the sprint goal and not hitting any roadblocks. It's the scrum master's role to make sure roadblocks are moved from the team so they can do their work efficiently. This is a good time for developers to bring up concerns about delivering the sprint goals on time, that way the product owner can communicate to the stakeholders.
Once the sprint is finished, the team will meet with the stakeholders and users to present what has been accomplished in that sprint, receiving crucial feedback to inform where the next sprint will go. It's this agile ceremony that the team will typically hear from the user of the product to determine if the new features or recent release was successful. If something isn't hitting users as it should from a business or developer perspective, agile allows the product owner, stakeholders, and developers to look at the backlog to change or reprioritize the feature list.
Lastly, the team will review their own process and work from that sprint to ensure the next sprint is even better. What went wrong? What was in their control and what wasn't? Can they adapt and adjust their methods to make sure the same hurtles don't show up again? This is a time for the team to get together and look, not at the code they are writing, but the methods of getting work done. The scrum master role typically takes on the responsibility of ensuring the team employs the new ideas.
Then, it all starts over as the next sprint is planned.
Why are agile ceremonies important for your project?
Ultimately, if you are building a software product (either in-house or with a third party) you will want to understand the status of the project timeline and any changes to it. Agile ceremonies allow this to happen as these changes occur - not after the fact. They also allow the development team the ability to explain the changes at the moment, so everyone is on the same page.
Our experience is that developing software solutions with an agile methodology only enhances our client's experience with us and the software build. There is no question where we are at - or where they are at during the development. It makes everyone more informed and, thus, happier.