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The Essential Guide to Development Sprints in an Agile Workflow

by | Apr 6, 2022 | All Posts, Development

By using a proven, conventional process called an agile sprint, you can efficiently build your project. As part of the development process, sprints serve to keep your project on track. Since the different parts of development are broken down into smaller tasks, any piece of your project can be worked on at anytime.

What Type of Methodology Does a Sprint Fall Under?

In software development, waterfall and agile are the two most well-known types of workflow methodology. Waterfall is an older method that is more linear, where developers work on each task in a step-by-step order. Your project cannot progress to the next step unless the original step is completely finished. Agile methodology is different; it is cyclical rather than linear, and this is where sprints come in. 

Sprint Basics

Sprints are two weeks long which follow a set process of development, code review, testing, and deployment. A sprint’s workload is dictated by the project milestones that need to be finished and user stories made by the product team. User stories are easy-to-understand tasks that describe your software from the end-user’s perspective; these stories are the tasks assigned to the developers. At the beginning of a sprint, each developer is delegated user stories to work on separately over the two weeks. The development team can work on user stories from the same project simultaneously. Since sprints are flexible, an individual developer can tackle multiple stories at the same time or the workload can be delegated between multiple developers. Your project isn’t completely held up when an obstacle occurs. Other developers on the project can move forward as the issue is resolved.

A Sprint Timeline

In agile development, most of the process is spent in a sprint. The steps for a sprint are as follows: 

  1. Sprint planning
  2. Development cycle
    1. Development
    2. Code review
    3. QA testing
  3. Deployment
  4. Client demo

Sprint planning begins after the previous sprint ends. Planning initiates the development cycle, which includes development, code review, and quality assurance (QA) testing. Development takes place early on in the sprint, and once a developer finishes coding a user story, the code is sent to a different developer to be reviewed. After the code is examined, the QA checks the product for bugs and functionality. If at any time a problem is found during code review or QA testing, the user story will go back to the original developer to be corrected. These portions of the development cycle take place simultaneously until deployment. After this feature is added, the application is then deployed. Since updates are deployed each sprint, you can expect an update on your product every two weeks. Small changes can be fixed soon after receiving the feedback, but larger fixes are documented as an action item to work on during the next sprint. 

Sprint Planning

Sprint planning starts at the beginning of the two weeks. Every developer on the project and the neutral project manager, or PM, join the session to plan the next sprint. Besides keeping the project moving, the PM is responsible for delegating the required tasks to each member of the development team. During this time, developers are delegated what they are going to work on as well as the next milestones that need to be completed by the PM. PMs manage the timeline for the project on top of this. New projects are opened in a project manager software, such as Jira, to organize and keep the agile development on track. 

Development

The developers begin writing their additions to the code directly after sprint planning. Features of your product are created and coded based on their corresponding user stories. During development, code review and QA testing are continuous.

Code Review

Once the developer is finished with the code for a user story, a different developer reviews the work. In a code review, work that needs checked over is flagged. If issues with the code are found, the reviewing developer provides feedback for improvement and sends it back to its original developer. Code must be reviewed by at least two other developers, and only then can it be added to the repository of code. Once in the repository, QA testing begins.

QA Testing

After a code review, the QA team tests the product for bugs. Whereas the foundation of the project is examined during the developer’s code review, the QA team tests the functionality of the app. By looking at the app as a user would, QA team members look for anything that makes the potential user’s experience difficult or could crash the app. Similar to a code review, if a bug is found, QA instructs the original developer on how to fix it. Both QA testing and code review prepare the application for deployment and the client demo.

Client Demo

When QA deems their work fit, the team prepares a demo for the clients outside of the normal sprint cadence. A client demo usually occurs every two weeks and works as an update on your application’s development. Since progress updates can be relatively abstract, this demo provides a hands-on approach and allows the client to work with and visualize their app. Depending on their level of comfort and how involved they want to be with their product’s development, clients can change how often they have a demo. 

Conclusion

Sprints turn your project into manageable pieces, allowing you to stick to your development schedule. As part of agile methodology, a sprint does not focus on a single part of your product, but rather works on multiple, separate tasks at the same time. By being broken up into a planning session, a development cycle that includes a code review and QA testing; and a client demo, developers can effectively catch problems before releasing bugs. When deciding how to structure your project’s development phase, agile sprints are an efficient and innovative way to build your product.

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