Agile development has revolutionized the IT sector since its inception in 2001.
In the years since, Agile methods have significantly increased the success rate ratio in software development, enhanced the overall quality, reduced the development time, and boosted the productivity of software developers.
In simple terms, Agile methodologies produce working solutions that can evolve based on feedback and change requests, which are usually achieved by delivering iterations quickly and often.
Agile is a process designed to help software development engineers handle uncertainty and change.
What Is the Agile Development Process?
Agile development is about breaking large software projects into smaller parts, which can be developed in increments and iterations. Each iteration is generally one week long.
During each session, the software development company and the client collaborate to prioritize what needs to be added to the current iteration.
The final result is working software, delivered quickly in a continuous production-like environment.
Thus, the Agile development process simplifies and enhances the software development process in such a way that the software remains adaptable after the first release.
The success of Agile depends on the close cooperation of cross-functional software development teams and stakeholders. That means to develop high-quality software, each party has to perform in a prompt and adaptable fashion.
The Origins of Agile Development
In 2001, a group of 17 software developers came up with an alternative to the traditional approach of managing software development projects.
The discussion on the idea of lightweight software development led to the creation of Agile Manifesto.
Unlike the traditional approach, known as “waterfall,” where software development flows through a series of phases, the Agile approach focuses on quickly creating working solutions quickly and that evolve based on customer feedback and change requests.
The main problem with using the waterfall approach for developing software is that you have to know exactly what you want to develop at the beginning and essentially have wait until the end of the development process to see the final product.
Unfortunately, some businesses often don’t know what exactly they want from their software at the beginning of the development process. As a result, they struggle to articulate their software requirements and get them to align them with what they have envisioned.
The advantage of Agile development is that as ideas change in response to external circumstances, those changes can be integrated into the development process.
Key Principles of Agile Development
The Agile development methodology combines a set of principles according to the values expressed in the Agile Manifesto.
The image below lists the key principles of agile development
Source: Huffington Post
Through these key principles – customer satisfaction as your highest priority, collaboration, continuous dedication to excellence, etc – Agile development promises stability and effective software within a limited time and budget.
Advantages of Agile Development
Agile was originally developed to streamline and improve the software development process.
In the era of digital transformation, with companies from various industries migrating to digital space, Agile has become the favorite approach to transform businesses.
The 6 main advantages of Agile are as follows:
1. Transparency & Satisfaction
The Agile process involves the client throughout the stages of software development: iteration, planning, new feature additions, and review sessions. Because of this, the client has the benefit of seeing the entire development process.
The Agile approach creates numerous opportunities throughout each review session for engagement between the client and the software developers. This not only gives developers a chance to fully understand the client’s vision but also the client to develop a bond of authenticity and trust with its development team.
2. Flexible Prioritization
The Agile methodology allows more flexibility in the software development process by prioritizing customer-driven features.
The development team also has more control in managing the deliverable units of work with each sprint, which helps to continuously progress towards the final milestone.
3. Fast & Predictable Deliveries
Sprints in the Agile process are held on a fixed schedule of 1-4 weeks. By using this fixed-time approach, delivering new features to clients becomes fairly predictable.
In addition, Agile allows for development teams to run beta tests or release the software sooner if it reaches adequate business value ahead of schedule.
While the focus of each milestone in Agile development is to ship an agreed set of units such as wireframes, UI/UX, or necessary product features, the agile approach creates an opportunity to reprioritize software requirements.
Such changes can simply be added to the next iteration and subsequently shipped in the following weeks.
5. Quality Improvements
Since the entire software project is broken down into manageable units, the Agile approach makes it easier for the developers to focus on high-quality software development, testing, and collaboration.
Furthermore, by creating continuous builds and reviewing them throughout the iteration process, developers can identify and resolve defects and dysfunctionalities can be identified and resolved early on, rather than when the product is complete. This improves the overall quality of the project.
6. Predictable Costs & Schedule
Because sprints in Agile are incorporated into a fixed schedule of 1-4 weeks, the costs are limited and predictable based on the complexity of features.
This allows you to fund software development either incrementally, sprint-by-sprint, or according to a fixed number of sprints.
By reviewing the estimated cost of each sprint, clients can better understand the approximate cost of future sprints. This ultimately helps the client to make improved and informed decisions when prioritizing features or adding new iterations.
When to Embrace Agile in Your Software Development
The development methodology you choose depends entirely on the nature of the software you wish to develop.
So, how do you decide that Agile is the way to go for your software development project?
The below parameters detail considerations for your company when making an informed decision about which development methodology to choose.
Source: Harvard Business Review
To summarize, if you’re willing to fail and learn at a competitive pace while considering the market conditions, if you are confident and enthusiastic about making your product a hot in the market with a lot of uncertainty; and if you have a strong team that believes in the innovation your product would bring, then yes, Agile development is the way forward.
About the Author
Pranjal Mehta is a technology strategist and the Founder and Managing Director of Zealous System, which provides innovative and cutting-edge technology models and services to businesses. He has a fierce passion for technology, which is why he is deeply committed to delivering solutions to the key problems faced by startups and enterprises.