How an Agile Approach Can Make the Software Development Process More Efficient

March 12, 2020

Learn how to enhance your software development efforts with the help of agile development methodology. In this article, you will learn how to integrate agile into your existing process and come up with solutions that spark ingenuity and innovation.

Companies around the globe are focusing on how to delight their clients by providing intuitive, engaging, and user-friendly software solutions. To improve software development efforts, developers have shifted their focus on the agile process. Agile is a methodology that allows developers to address a client’s requirements in real-time. 

You can use an agile process to cater to the dynamic needs while building software without halting the development stage. 

How to Start Using Agile Methodology in Your Development Process 

  1. Define a vision for the software development activity 
  2. Create a product roadmap
  3. Create a release plan
  4. Plan sprints
  5. Implement a daily standup routine

Better Manage Uncertainty With an Agile Approach

Since 2001, agile development methodology has evolved to become one of the most popular methodologies because of its flexibility and collaboration potential. It values:

  • Individuals and interactions more than processes and tools 
  • Working software more than comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration more than contract negotiation
  • Responding to change more than following a plan

What is the agile manifesto?

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These values act as the foundation principles for agile methodology. The Agile Manifesto is a comprehensive document outlining the principles on how to deal with changes during the development process and how to manage uncertainty. 

Continuously Collect and Apply Feedback 

Agile is a broad mindset designed to create and respond to change. The methodology consists of planning, testing, integration, and gathering feedback continuously throughout the software’s lifecycle. 

The iterative nature of the methodology enhances team coordination and involvement and speeds up the decision-making process as per the dynamic situation. 

An agile approach includes daily standups and sprints.

Source

Agile focuses on building a solution iteratively and incrementally so that development can be completed in a minimum amount of time while enhancing end-user satisfaction. 

Put in the Work to Harness the Potential of Agile Methodology

Agile methodology was designed to create a robust framework that would boost the software development process

The inherent principle of continuous iteration helps developers, companies as well as end-users, which means, in turn, everyone, as all the stakeholders are participants to the development activity. 

To harness this potential, however, businesses must put in the work and follow three steps for a successful project developed with an agile methodology.

Step 1: Define a Vision for the Software Development Activity 

Before beginning any project, you should have a clear goal and vision for the future. This goal should address the business need and should define the future roadmap for the project. 

Ideally, you should define the vision by involving a maximum number of key stakeholders by holding a strategy meeting before the project starts. 

Some product and software development companies refer to this process as defining the elevator pitch. This essentially defines the: 

  • Target audience
  • Need statement
  • Product name and category 
  • Core benefit 
  • Key differentiation from competitor 

Defining the elevator pitch and vision for your project will help you streamline the future software development process. This should be your first step when you are thinking of agile methodology.  

Step 2: Create a Product Roadmap 

Once you have defined the core vision for your product, you should create a product roadmap. This will help translate your vision from imagination to reality. A product roadmap contains high-level requirements for a project with a flexible time frame. 

Flexibility or a “loose time frame” is the critical aspect here. You should focus on identifying, prioritizing, and estimating the effort instead of setting rigid timelines for completion. 

A theme-based, a goal-oriented roadmap is best for an agile project. 

You should focus on the fundamental objective, as well as the outcome of your project, while creating a project roadmap. Your goals will help define the features that will further translate to actual development activities. 

For every goal that you set in the product roadmap, make sure to include: 

  • The product’s name
  • Goal 
  • Deadline
  • Key features 
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Defining every goal in such a way will give you a clear idea of what is to be done, how it is to be done and the success criteria of each goal. 

Step 3: Create a Release plan 

Once you have created a detailed roadmap and a strategy, it’s time to move ahead with a release plan. Your release plan should include a tentative timeline for the release of different features. 

As all agile projects have multiple releases, it is important to prioritize the features according to the requirement. 

Your release plan should be realistic and should account for the complexity and length of the sprints. 

Ideally, each release should incorporate 3-5 sprints. Also, make sure to get all project managers, developers and product owners on board while finalizing a release plan. 

Step 4: Planning the Sprints 

Once you have done all the macro-level work (e.g., strategizing, planning, road mapping and setting timelines), it is time to go down to micro-level and defining short sprints. 

A sprint is a short cycle that is created with a specific goal in mind. Every sprint should not stretch more than 1-4 weeks and should have a standard duration, throughout the project. 

To create a sprint, all the team members including project managers, developers, and product owners should come together to create a list of features/tasks that can be completed in a fixed timeframe. 

Every sprint must be planned and should focus on defining what would be the end-result of the sprint. 

Step 5: Implement a Daily Standup Routine 

A daily standup in an agile term is a routine small meeting where all members of the team gather to discuss important things such as: 

  • The tasks completed the previous day 
  • The work to be completed today 
  • The roadblocks discovered while working on a task 

The standup meeting should be held at the beginning of every day so any roadblock can be addressed in time and goals can be achieved. 

Agile is all about keeping everyone on the same page and reacting to the problems quickly. So, you should motivate people to speak up about what they are doing. This will foster collaboration and ensure everyone is working towards the defined goal. 

Step 6: Review Iterations 

Once a sprint cycle is complete (i.e. the duration of the sprint ends), you must have a functional part of the software. At this point, one should review the end-result, share the completed part with others, and gather feedback from stakeholders. 

This is an important part of the agile methodology as agile is all about continuous iteration. Gathering feedback and incorporating the changes will help in beginning the next sprint cycle. 

You should check if the sprint managed to cater to the set requirements and see if something is not working according to the plan. 

Step 7: Analyze Previous Sprints and Move on to the Next Sprint 

Agile is all about moving continuously and iterating on an ongoing basis. Once a sprint cycle is over, you should focus on the next sprint. 

Think about what should be done at the next step. Go back to your product roadmap and see if there is something that you learned from the previous sprint that would change the timeline or roadmap. 

Use this time to plan your next move and look back at the results of the previous sprint. See if something can be improved to enhance the development activities. 

Think of this time as a sprint retrospective plan and engage maximum stakeholders for better project management and end-results.  

Make the Software Development Process More Flexible and Collaborative With an Agile Approach

The continuous focus on planning, development, feedback, and improvement is the strength of the agile process. With agile, you learn to work as you release the software or application. 

You don’t have to wait for the entire software development lifecycle to end for finding out the result. Instead, you can learn valuable insights after every sprint. In a dynamic technological ecosystem, this power is quite valuable, making your development efforts quite close to user requirements.