What are the advantages of agile development?
Agile Development came about as a response to slow and cumbersome traditional software development methodologies. The most common traditional methodology is Waterfall.
Waterfall methodology, while simple, is highly regimented. The development team plans the entire project, documenting each step. The team cannot move on to the next step until they complete the previous step. Each step must “flow” into the next. Developers wanted a more nimble, user-focused model. They wanted to make changes and create software that met stakeholder requirements quickly and precisely.
Learn more on how Waterfall differs from Agile.
Agile development focuses on the needs of the customer and end-users. The development cycle is a transparent process. The process fosters stakeholder involvement and participation at every step.
The Agile method is different from traditional team organization. Where a traditional team may have several projects at once, an agile team focuses on one project at a time. They are able to give all their attention to a single goal. Agile team members do not have rigid job roles and titles. Instead, the team members are valued for their skills and contributions to the project.
Agile encourages collaboration, transparency, and communication. Team Members and stakeholders share a mission and values, so everyone is aiming for the same goal. Agile enables teams to work without traditional hierarchy. The team shares the same vision and objectives. The people are important, not the process.
Agile works because it is efficient due to the organizing principles. An important advantage in agile development is the use of sprints. Sprints are short bursts of software development that adhere to a specific timeline. Using agile keeps costs down and teams on track largely because of sprints. The Scrum Master manages the sprints. A Scrum Master is not a project manager, but rather a facilitator and process owner. The Scrum Master helps the team deliver their project. The Scrum Master manages the workflow of the project and ensures that the project runs on time, avoiding bottlenecks.
These unique methods make agile work exceptionally well for software development projects.
Let’s examine the advantages of agile development.
Advantages of using agile in software development
Agile development’s most obvious advantage is that it allows for change. Unlike waterfall methodology, where the development team must follow a rigid structure, agile teams can make changes during the development process. They can respond immediately to problems and refocus as needed. The team responds to feedback and user testing during the process, not only after, as is the case in waterfall development.
Agile development starts with asking what the users need. As written in the Agile Manefesto, Agile values Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Software needs to meet the needs of those who will ultimately use it. User testing happens often, with each sprint, so the software functions as required. Agile teams ask users for feedback and suggestions, taking care to make the tools that they need.
Agile development allows teams to communicate and share results with stakeholders throughout the process. Clients and customers can see work as it’s happening. Clients help decide the priority of features, iterations and testing. They must, however, understand that they are seeing the work as it progresses and not judge it like they would a finalized project.
Directly related to transparency, agile encourages the involvement of stakeholders throughout the development cycle. The team collaborates openly with clients and customers, delivering their results at the end of each sprint. The development team and stakeholders build a trusting and open relationship. Stakeholders and the team work together to build a quality product that meets all the requirements set out at the beginning of the project.
Closely associated with stakeholder involvement, business value is a great benefit of using the agile methodology. Because the development team and stakeholders work together closely, the focus on value remains steady and sure. Clients openly communicate the importance of features to their business. Using agile, the development team plans and revises throughout the development cycle. They ensure that they create business value from the beginning of the project. This planning also enables the team to minimize risks.
Agile development offers greater quality software because it uses sprints and testing. Each sprint includes extensive tests and review. The development team knows the software works exactly before moving on to the next step. The team tests during development, they ensure optimized code. They find defects and bugs and fix them immediately. To learn more about the main principles of Agile testing read our ultimate guide to Agile testing methodology.
Regular Predictable Delivery
Using sprints, agile development teams delivery parts of the project in specified periods of time from one to four weeks in length. This sort of scheduling means teams and stakeholders can beta test early and often. Scrum masters will meet with clients and customers to deliver and explain results.
Costs and Schedule are Set and Certain
Because each sprint has a fixed time frame, customers and clients can gauge costs and see results clearly. A team size of up to seven members means an agile team is small enough to provide maximum efficiency. Customers and clients can easily understand the costs of each feature. This allows them to prioritize and set up additional iterations as necessary.
Now that we’ve seen the advantages of agile methodology, let’s examine the challenges.
Challenges of Using Agile Methodology
Getting teams to change their way of working is the biggest challenge of using agile methodology. Teams set in a waterfall mindset will need to learn a new, more flexible way of working. They will need to change their way of thinking and working. This requires cross-functional teams and working from a user-focused standpoint, rather than the traditional Business Requirements Document (BRD).
At Blocshop, our teams are agile–fluent and ready to take on the challenge of your software development project. Our expert engineers, designers and developers will help you see your full potential.
If you’d like to discuss how agile can help grow your business, please do get in touch.