The Agile lifecycle
There are many different flavors of agile. Ultimately, it is up to your team to come up with the best process for you. Generally they all follow a short life cycle, which repeats during each iteration. This guide focuses on Scrum, but many of the features are universal. Scrum projects are broken down into short iterations (generally 1 – 3 weeks) called sprints. The lifecycle of each sprint includes: Planning Execution Review Rinse & Repeat.
Kick-off / Sprint planning meeting
Each scrum project begins with a kick-off meeting. The first meeting is generally the most extensive as the initial project backlog needs to be created and the project team introduced. Additionally, before each of the future sprints there is a sprint planning meeting. First, the kick-off meeting. The kick-off meeting’s goals are An overview of the project and the goals Who will be working on the project Determining the point person for client sign-off Creating project backlog (if you haven’t already). Determining which features you will be working on Getting on same page.
Behind every project is a project backlog. The project backlog is a list of all the product features generally defined by “user stories”. User stories define everything potential users want to do on the site. They are defined for each of the user groups on the site and are structured like: As a [user type] I want to [do what] so that I can [purpose] For example: As a teacher I want to post test grades so that I can keep track of students.
There are many tools to keep track of your project backlog, both analog and digital options. The important thing is that the backlog is always accessible and easy to track. In its most basic form it might be post-it notes on a wall. In fact, one of the best ways to create the initial project backlog is to write all of the user stories on post it notes during the kick-off meeting. Post-it notes are easy to rearrange so make a perfect analog solution to creating a backlog. If you prefer keeping things online, there are a number of tools listed in the Resources section. After all the user stories have been dreamed up, they are ranked in order of priority. Part of this ranking is also grouping stories together. Some stories will naturally lend themselves to being built with others, which will expedite the process. Remember that the project backlog is always fluid and never locked in. The project lead will be in charge of reprioritizing the backlog between sprints. And if new features are dreamed up or requested by users, they are encouraged to be added to the backlog. The one exception to the fluid backlog is during a sprint. While the sprint is in session, it is important to not add features. That keeps the team focused and makes sure that the project can be properly tracked.