What is Agile: Understanding Agile Methodology and Its Types

Digital disruptions and changing landscapes are compelling companies to respond to the changing business. In 2000, seventeen thought leaders came together to create the Agile Manifesto for software development to revolutionize an industry. This new set of principles revolutionized the software development process, resulting in the widespread adoption of the Agile methodology.

What is Agile Methodology?

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a concept that details the stages and functions involved in designing and deploying software. The SDLC can be represented as six steps, as illustrated below. The SDLC uses several working models, of which the Agile Model is the most talked about because of its combination of iterative and incremental processes that reaps the benefits of both.

SDFC Lifecycle

Fig: The SDLC Lifecycle

The Agile software development methodology is iterative and incremental. Processes need to be tailored to suit the specific project requirements of the customer. In Agile, there is incremental delivery of tasks.

The Agile Model

Fig: The Agile Model

What is Agile?

Agile project management is a methodology designed to work in an iterative structure, adapting to changes, responding to constant feedback in an effort to provide constant results. When related to software, this methodology defines roles, increases collaboration, ongoing review and adaptation, self-organization, and cross-functionality of the teams. It is a software engineering best-practice for rapid delivery of high-quality software, tailored to customer needs and aligned with the business goals.

Now that we know what is Agile and its methodology, let's look at the types of Agile Methodologies.

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Types of Agile Methodology

There are many subsets of the Agile methodologies. Each of these methods follows the same underlying principles, however, they differ in regard to implementation with each having a unique set of practices, terminology, and use cases.

Subsets of Agile Methodologies

Fig: Subsets of Agile Methodologies

There are many popular Agile methodologies used today, here’s a snapshot of some of them:

Scrum Methodology

Scrum is a lightweight, simple-to-implement way to manage software development projects within a small team-based setting. Testing is done for every sprint, for instant redressal of quality or deployment issues. The Agile framework for managing a process yields a high quality of software, customized to the needs of the product owner.

Lean Software Development

Lean is a methodology focused on value stream mapping without the necessity of following iterative development within a fixed set of rules. The focus is on optimizing and elimination of waste, while delivering only valuable features, in batches. Lean is a proven fast and efficient methodology because of the underpinning principle of the most efficient use of team resources for maximum productivity.

Kanban Software Development

The Kanban method is used to manage work using a pull-based system, to increase the speed of delivery. This method ensures a robust and collaborative environment of continuous improvement by limiting the amount of work-in-progress and driving down costs. (Source: Collabnet)


The Crystal methodology is people and process-driven. It is an agile software development approach that focuses on people and their interactions to meet a product’s unique requirements. The use of the term Crystal originated from the gemstone where the faces represent in software terms, the various views of the underlying core of values and principles. The seven properties are frequent delivery, reflective improvement, close or osmotic communication, personal safety, focus, easy access to expert users, automated tests, configuration management, and frequent integration.

The Crystal method results in the delivery of working software before time, by removing the bottlenecks.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

The DSDM provides a comprehensive framework designed to plan, manage, execute, and scale the software development process.  The focus is business-driven, with no compromise on either the quality or timely delivery. This approach is iterative, incremental, and based mainly on the Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology. The framework includes practicability and business studies; prototype iteration/functional model; design iteration and build iteration; and implementation.

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

FDD is a client-centric and architecture-based software process. As the name implies, software development is organized around making progress on delivering  “features’. We describe feature as a small, client-valued function that takes the form <action><result><object>. The method is based on a model with a short iteration process. It follows a five-step development process built around discrete “feature” projects - developing the overall model, building a features list, planning by feature, designing by feature, and building by feature. The objective is to deliver working software from time to time, repeatedly, and scale incrementally. This helps to manage complex projects.

Extreme Programming (XP)

XP is one of the well-organized, systematic approaches for quick and continuous delivery of high-quality software, tailored to meet changing customer requirements. Here, proven and good practices are taken to the extreme. It involves greater customer engagement, the deep involvement of team members, rapid feedback loops, test-driven development, and shorter iterations of one to three weeks. The method results in high quality of software without impacting the time taken.

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Let's Take A Closer Look at Agile Scrum

The Scrum is a form of Agile methodology used to manage environments of complex software and product development. Productivity is higher, time-to-benefits is minimal, and the product is adapted easily to fast-changing requirements. The Scrum methodology uses the same Agile iterative and incremental practice within a lightweight framework that is simple to implement. Scrum has a proven outcome that works well with the management side of projects.

In the Scrum framework, the product owner collaborates with the team to distribute a software program into short timeboxes called sprints. The duration of each sprint is anywhere between one and four weeks. Working software is delivered after each sprint. The process framework may be adjusted based on the Sprint Retrospective. Scrum is aimed at maintaining a high quality of the software deliverable, by enabling better adaptation to change of requirements. 

So, having learned so much about Scrum, what are the terminologies used?

Scrum Terminologies  

  • Burndown Chart

    The Burn-down Chart is a graphical representation to show work remaining per day against the projected time. It acts as a visual measurement tool for tracking the progression of a particular sprint towards the completion of the committed work. The outstanding work or backlog is depicted along the vertical axis, and time is taken on the horizontal axis. The Burn Down chart is useful for estimating the time of completion.
  • Epics

    Epics are large pieces of work (features, customer requests, or business requirements) that can be broken down into smaller specific tasks, or user stories. Epics are typically implemented across several iterations. They are a great way to organize your work and create a hierarchy.
  • Product Backlog

    It is a collection of work that can be done on a product that may add value to it. During planning, user stories are picked up from the product backlog, dissected, discussed, and refined.
  • Product Owner

    As the project’s key stakeholder, he symbolizes the customer's end. So he has the final say. The product owner also prioritizes the product backlog during the sprint planning meeting, looks at the minute details, and engages with all stakeholders.
  • Sprint Backlog

    User stories are taken from the product backlog, based on the priority. The Scrum team holds discussions to find out the feasibility and decides on the stories to work on a specific sprint. Sprint Backlog is the collective list of all the product backlog items in which the Scrum team works on a specific sprint.

    Sprint Backlog
  • Scrum Master

    Scrum Master is the facilitator of the Scrum team.

    Scrum Master facilitates the Scrum team
  • Scrum Team

    This is the development team of typically 3 to 9 team members.
  • Sprint

    Sprint is a pre-fixed time frame within which the project is to be completed for review or production deployment. The sprint cycle is typically 1 to 4 weeks.

    Sprint Cycle
  • Story Points

    A quantitative indication of the size of a user story is called Story points. Here we determine the estimation and efforts for a story based on the story point. A story point is relative (not fixed). Smaller and precise user stories help the creation of reliable estimates of story points.

    Story Points
  • User Story

    User stories are requirements expressed from a user perspective and are defined in a single paragraph.
  • Velocity

    The total amount of work completed which a Scrum team collects in a sprint is called velocity. Velocity helps in judging/referencing a Scrum team.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile and Scrum Methodologies

Advantages and Disdavantages of Agile and Scrum Methodologies

Let us take a look at the advantages and limitations of Agile and Scrum methodologies.


The reasons why Agile is being adopted by organizations are mentioned below.

  • High flexibility and adaptability
  • Faster implementation of changes
  • Incremental updates of the software
  • Faster time-to-market
  • More rapid development and delivery of high-value features within short cycles
  • Evolution of product design as per customer requirements
  • Higher product owner/customer satisfaction
  • Promotes innovation and creativity
  • Higher productivity of teams
  • Lower project costs due to focus on high-value features
  • High visibility of daily progress, supports management strategies and decision making


  • The absence of detailed documentation may lead to communication gaps.
  • If there is any change in customer vision, integration becomes cumbersome, making it difficult to estimate the time and quality of the end product
  • In-team conflicts and competition is routine, requiring extra vigilance and management
  • Add-on training may be required in some cases
  • Complete organizational transformation is necessary
  • Difficult to assess the time and resources required
  • Users are required to test almost on a daily basis
  • Results may differ from that expected in terms of product features, delivery, quality, implementation, etc.
  • Inconsistency in project integration
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Why is Agile Methodology Popular over Other Approaches?

Software development projects deploy different SDLC methodologies depending upon the complexities involved and the project timeline. The two common SDLC approaches considered are the waterfall method and the Agile Scrum method. When choosing the methodology most suitable for software development, the Agile Scrum methodology is the popular approach and proven its worth time and again in software development. However, the Agile approach too had its share of misconceptions, causing some managers to pause before adopting this methodology.

The Agile method works well for small-to-medium-sized software applications where the complete functional software application needs a faster release. Using a bottom-up approach, Agile Scrum enables the development of software to meet customer needs at every stage, gathering feedback and adapting sprints as needed.

The Next Step

A career in Project Management is highly desired by professionals across the world. Now that you know the basics of Agile and Scrum methodology, you can go ahead to master your Agile skills by taking our Agile Scrum Master (ASM®) Certification Training. Achieving an Agile certification will open the door of opportunities in the field of Project Management and you can walk through it to land your dream job.

About the Author


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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