There are many reasons why agile is incredibly popular as a development methodology. Agile allows you to complete development projects without wasting resources. The iteration – the circular nature of agile development – also makes improving the base product easier in the long run. There are even technical benefits to enjoy, including better quality of code and updated simplicity.

Adopting the agile methodology, however, isn’t always easy. Not all teams can adopt the methodology right away. Some require a longer process, while others don’t find the development approach suitable for their projects. There is also the challenge of choosing the right tools for a truly agile development cycle.

These challenges are there for leaders – project managers – to solve. While everyone in the team can provide insights and solutions, it is up to the project manager to determine the right way to go. To make the process of tackling these challenges easier, here are the agile development tips every leader must understand.

Stick to User Stories:

User story and job story are two different things. Job story is usually tied to the project requirements, which means they represent what stakeholders expect from the development project. You will see feature requests and directives coming from the top, even in the flattest organization.

As mentioned before, job story can be completely different from user story. The challenge here is making sure that the project delivers value for the end-users, not for the decision-makers. It’s user experience; not developer experience.

This is why every agile development project must stick to user stories. At the very least, you want to make sure that the user story and job story reaches the team members that will be handling the development project.

The approach allows for the entire team to be on the same page when it comes to objectives, project requirements, and deliverables. In fact, this approach also has the potential of educating stakeholders about user stories since all requirements are discussed openly.

Use the Right Tools:

Project management and development tools are supposed to make the entire development process simpler and more seamless instead of the opposite. If the project management tool you use adds two or three extra steps to the process, you are clearly using the wrong tool.

Tools like Kanbanize are designed to incorporate agile project management methods from the ground up, which is why they can be very effective when used by agile teams. Kanbanize, in particular, lets you plan the project, spot potential issues, and manage tasks in one seamless sweep.

Digital Kanban boards are also easy to integrate with third-party services that are frequently used in development projects. Integration with Git, Google Drive, and code editors are easy to utilize. The same is true with integration with automation services, including testing automation tools.

Don’t just stop at the project management tool either. Streamlining other tools used in the development project brings added benefits. Adding Git to the development and production servers, for instance, makes moving from testing to deploying updates an even more efficient process.

Divide Tasks Efficiently:

Agile development requires a large project to be divided into smaller tasks. It also focuses more on small, incremental updates rather than a big change implemented in one go. For project leaders, distributing larger tasks to team members is a challenge of its own.

You don’t always have to divide every task into smaller chunks. Depending on the nature of those tasks, it may be better to leave some parts of the project as a single task since it will allow for more efficient development in general.

Other times, you need to distribute tasks to multiple team members. In a DevOps team, dividing tasks can be done using roles as the baseline. Development, testing, and ops are handled by different teams, creating a smoother cycle and more agile development.

One additional thing to remember: make sure task assignment is done based on load. Bottlenecks often happen because of imbalance in the way tasks are assigned and the teams are constructed. Fortunately, you now have the visual representation of the project – the Kanban board – to use.

Separate Firefighting with Development:

Backlogs are not uncommon in agile development. Bug fixes and problem-solving are usually considered more important, especially when the developed app is in end-users’ hands. Is that how you should organize your projects? Not really.

Yes, dealing with bugs and issues are important, but these tasks should not hamper the progress of software iteration. This too is a challenge, especially with smaller teams. There aren’t enough resources to handle both parts of the development project effectively.

A good way to deal with this issue is by separating firefighting with development. In smaller teams, one or two team members must focus on dealing with bugs and errors, but those team members can also work on development tasks when there are no issues to solve.

A more extensive DevOps team can separate the two roles entirely, resulting in a buffer of resources that can be allocated towards solving issues. The buffer can also be used to handle urgent changes and tasks that aren’t in the original development cycle.

Iterate Faster:

With tasks divided and roles assigned properly, it is time to refine the way you iterate on your development tasks. At this point, focusing on an even smaller iteration of the product becomes easier since you already have all the basics covered.

Smaller and more focused iterations mean updates can be pushed at a much faster rate. When you add additional tools like testing automation and bug trackers, the whole workflow can be made incredibly efficient and very effective.

All of these benefits are the result of the small refinements we have been discussing in this article. Regardless of your team characteristics and the projects you are handling, you can improve your agile development methodology further. As you complete more cycles, the approach also reveals more improvements to implement, including improvements to the way you use agile development as a methodology. You will be able to gather more insights and do so much more than shortening the development time.