Agile Software Development has become the dominant methodology for software development teams. Essentially, Agile development divides a project into a series of sprints that rely on careful planning and feedback from the client. The development team works to complete each task during these 1-to-4 week sprints. Each ending with a tangible piece of software that is as market ready as possible. Client’s stakeholders are heavily involved during the development process. They are a part of the planning, software planning, software demo, functionality reviews, and assist with testing the software (UAT) after each sprint. Because the client is involved in each iterative release of the project, adjustments can be made during development so when the final software is completed it is exactly what the client wants.
The goal of this article is to give you a basic understanding of the Agile process and why it is hands down the recommended method for most software projects. The Agile Disciplines go into great detail from a process perspective and have many different flavors like Scrum, Kanban, or SAFE. While we aren’t going to tackle Agile from a process perspective, we do want to help you understand why it works so well from a business perspective.
The client and development team create a list of features or user stories which are then broken down into a set of development tasks and ranked by priority. This allows the development team to know what is most important for the client’s organization. The development team will start to build features in order of importance. Agile requires a feature is market ready before labeling it completed. As these features are completed, clients can begin beta testing parts of their software, providing them with business value through the entire life cycle of the development project.
With other software development methodologies, like Waterfall, a fixed scope of work is developed up front and the project is delivered based on that scope with little room for change or modification. This makes implementing changes to the software lifecycle often difficult and expensive. In Agile, the flexibility to make changes during development makes it extremely popular. The client and development team can add, upgrade or even eliminate specific features during development to adjust processes or business rules that weren’t addressed at the start of the project.
Each feature has its own identity in the product backlog (the user stories broken down into their individual tasks). The development team adds a feature to the sprint and develops it until it’s market ready. Because of this cycle, code quality tends to be higher than with other software development methods. After each iteration, the software is tested and reviewed for bugs before being checked off as completed. In the end, Agile developed software tends to have fewer bugs and overall higher code quality because it is developed in segments to be market ready.
Staying On Time
With other software development methods, the client and development team meet to define the scope of the project before the building begins. After this initial meeting there will be little contact between the client and development team, so if the scope has not accurately defined the project goals then budget, and deadlines can be at risk.
Because of Agile’s unique process of segmenting each feature and including the client every step along the process, the client and development team can redefine the scope to meet deadlines and budget. Most of the issues that development teams experience are not expected, being able to adapt and react makes Agile extremely efficient and allows for a higher success rate of completing the project to the organizational vision and on time.
Our goal is to create a piece of software that provides value for our customers. Our experience with Agile Software Development has proved to us that Agile’s process helps achieve that goal and makes the entire development process smoother for our clients. Agile allows us to have open communication with our clients, stay in budget, and deliver on time.