In 2001, a group of expert software developers created the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. That document started a movement in the software development world and many teams now use the Agile software development approach. But, some developers question the value of the approach and look to answer the question of whether they should adopt the methodology. If you’re asking the question, these reasons can help you make an informed choice.
What is Agile Software Development?
The dictionary defines the term agile as “having a quick, resourceful, and adaptable character.” If you’re a software developer, or responsible for a software development team, you know that software development can be a complex undertaking. Therefore, the idea of using a method that is quick, resourceful, and adaptable is extremely attractive.
It’s difficult to create a concise definition of Agile software development, but here’s one of the best attempts, “Agile project management is an iterative development methodology that values human communication and feedback, adapting to change, and producing working results.”
The Agile Manifesto provides the basis for that definition. In the Manifesto, the developers stated four values they used to develop the methodology:
1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
4. Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
Benefits of Agile Software Development
Standish Group published the most recent Chaos Report in 2018. In that report they stated, “The results for all projects show that agile projects enjoy a 60% greater chance of success than non-agile projects. Looking deeper, we find that “waterfall” projects are three times more likely to fail than agile projects.” This indicates that it is worth taking another hard look into the benefits of Agile software development offers.
- Iterative development
One of the principles behind Agile development is that development teams work in short “sprints” to produce a working application that stakeholders can review.
Experts like those at Deloitte find that if producing the first release of a new application takes a long time, the outcome isn’t well received. This is often a result of the business needs changing during the development process. When a development team can quickly produce a working application, they get immediate feedback from their customers to help them adapt the software as needed.
- Better design
Traditional software development methods focus on preparing the type of documentation needed later for support during the development cycle. Agile development doesn’t ignore the need for documentation, but it values good design more.
Laboring over documentation doesn’t improve design. The Agile processes that focus on using an iterative process to perfect design and adapting to change will result in a much better outcome.
- Increased quality based on midcourse corrections
In traditional application development projects, changes in requirements are discouraged to ensure that a project stays on time and within budget. But, that limitation often results in a final product that doesn’t meet requirements. Going back once everything is complete to adjust the design is difficult and can lead an organization to abandon the project.
Using Agile software development approaches, a team can respond easily to midcourse corrections, recognizing that those corrections are necessary to achieve the required quality of the final product.
- Early testing and deployment that eliminates errors
In traditional software development, software testing is often one of the last steps in the process. That’s a bad time to find the problems and get them fixed. With Agile development, testing is done throughout the process. Agile projects often use test cases to help them tweak the design before writing code. And, teams often test related modules simultaneously to save time.
- Customer-focused development
Agile teams work closely with other business teams to ensure that the software design is going to meet their customers’ requirements. In the past, it’s been difficult if not impossible to get developers and their customers together frequently. Today, a wide range of tools that promote collaboration is available.
Used well, those collaboration tools can let disperse teams talk, and even see one another, without going any farther than their monitor.
- Increased visibility
The customer collaboration principle in Agile software development means that developers are no longer hidden away taking their direction from often ill-conceived written system requirements. Using an Agile approach, the development team works directly with its customers. The team understands exactly what the customer requires and obtains regular feedback.
Also, the tools used in Agile such as Kanban provide a visual reference for anyone in the organization to use. Increasing visibility is a common goal of CEOs and Agile helps them meet that goal in application development projects.
- Faster time to market
The collaborative environment found in Agile development teams leads to rapid development. Some tasks can be completed simultaneously, and the focus is on producing working code. This rapid development can be a significant competitive advantage for a company that needs to beat its competitors to market.
- Improved outcomes
Agile teams use working software as their most important measure of success or progress. That’s one of the 12 principles of Agile Software Development. Whey an Agile team embraces that mindset, delivering software in modules becomes a natural way of life.
This approach has also resulted in operating systems using a more modular design. Annual releases and interim feature updates are now the norms. Agile development also brought subscription-based software into the collective mindset. These evolutions mean that keeping software of all types updated and consistently addressing customer needs is a reality.
- Increased Customer Satisfaction
Whether your customers are internal, external, or both, you need to keep a focus on customer satisfaction. However, it’s difficult to retain that focus during a long software development project. Agile philosophies put customer satisfaction at the forefront.
It’s easy for traditional teams to get mired down in the mechanics of their development process during a long development cycle. It’s easy to lose sight of customer satisfaction and track things such as the number of lines written, and pages of documentation produced. Traditional teams often measure progress based on the milestones in the process rather than the effectiveness of the final product in terms of meeting customer needs.
Focusing on the process isn’t the fault of the team members. They don’t typically have regular contact with the customer. They often have no idea how business needs are changing. It’s logical for a traditional team to measure success based on the process since they don’t have insight into other measures of success.
The Agile methodology gives teams the visibility and contact with their customers they need to make it easy to keep customer needs top of mind. Using an Agile software development approach is one way to make sure your next project focuses on customer satisfaction. Based on a TrustRadius.com poll, 81% of software development professionals report that they use Agile vs the waterfall methodology.
But, there are at least four key reasons why application development projects fail. For more information, read our whitepaper, “4 Reasons Why Application Development Projects Fail & 7 Solutions.”
You can also learn more about Datavail’s Application Development Sprint Teams to help ensure your software development projects’ success.
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