The Structure of an Iteration

Get a detailed insight into iteration structure.

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Iteration composition

Although Agile approaches differ in name, unit of work, and even the duration of iterations, the scribes are at least in agreement on what an iteration looks like. Each iteration is composed of three parts:

  • Kickoff: Each iteration starts with a kickoff. Here, the team determines which work items will become part of the iteration. The quantity of work items selected is based on what’s attainable for the team. Not too many and not too few. The team will commit to these work items.
  • Work: The main substance of an iteration is the realization of the agreed-to work items. This consists of analysis, design, construction, testing, and acceptance of the work items. Every day, the team’s progress is reviewed during the daily stand-up meeting.
  • Evaluation: At the end of each iteration, an evaluation takes place with the whole team and the relevant stakeholders. The completed work items are evaluated. A demo is often performed. The team’s method is scrutinized, though. Is the quality up to par? Are we going fast enough? Can we get faster? Method improvements are carried out in the next iteration. During the next iteration’s evaluation, these improvements are naturally evaluated again.

Why iterations?

Working in iterations is a powerful tool. Many of the disadvantages of the Waterfall methods are neutralized. The main benefits, at a glance:

  • Reduction of risks: Of course, we recognize that the same risks exist in Agile as they do in Waterfall. Even in Agile projects, the chosen software architecture can have limitations. The user interface may not be to our liking, or the performance can leave something to be desired. The software might not run in the production environment, and interfacing with other systems, services, and middleware may be complicated. The big difference between Agile and Waterfall is that all the work on the planned work items is performed in one iteration, so risks are identified much earlier. Not at the end of a project, but during the first few iterations. Anticipating risks at an earlier stage diminishes their impact enormously.

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