To be agile is to be quick. Likewise, agile software development also involves the ability to respond quickly and adapt your approach when needed. You might already know about the agile management concept, but here we’ll talk about and explain agile software development, including frameworks like Scrum, the agile manifesto, and all of the principles that make the agile development type unique.
Understanding Agile in Simple Terms
First off, let’s talk about what agile is. Agile, at its core, is an iterative approach to software delivery that will build your software from the start of the project until the end of the project, instead of the software being delivered all at once in the end.
Think of it like all of the pieces of your project building cumulatively upon each other. So, your project will be broken down into little bits called user stories. These little stories will be prioritized and delivered in cycles to your agile development teams.
With functional teams using the methodology agile recommends, project management suddenly becomes much easier. It’s no wonder that agile has become such an important system for businesses, but it’s more than just a buzzword.
Agile is an approach to project management that a majority of businesses use nowadays, and is more than just software. There’s actually an agile manifesto that includes principles and agile methodologies means to help your teams work much more efficiently.
Agile development is all about prioritizing individuals and their interactions with others, with working software and customer collaboration rather an such an intense on documentation and contract negotiation. Agile means responding to change, and adapting if your plan doesn’t work out.
What is Agile Software Development?
In terms of software development then, agile is an umbrella term for all the frameworks and practices that are a part of agile management. It’s more than just Scrum or pair programming, or even planning sessions and test-driven development. It is a whole slew of values.
This approach to software development involves focusing on how people work together and solutions through collaboration between cross functional teams, the product owner, and your user – which we’ll discuss more later.
The main point of agile software development is to keep the process lean so that you’re able to create good products that go through a number of iterations before you have the final product. Throughout this process, you’ll receive feedback that you can implement on each step of the process.
Our team will be able to work together with you towards a common goal, with the best final product possible when you’re done.
Just because we’re working together doesn’t mean that there aren’t managers, or that project management is non-existent. It just means that we’re all working together as a team to figure out how things should look. We still have cross functional teams, with everyone possessing the skills to get your work done.
That’s what the manager for your project is for: making sure that everyone has the right skills to allow them to be successful. The manager will work with the development team so that they’re able to figure out the best way to solve issues in a timely manner.
Using Agile Methodology in Software Development
You know all about agile development now: it’s all about working in increments and with a development team to get your project done right. To achieve a good digital experience with your work, developers use agile methodologies like this in programming and teamwork.
In software, the agile methodology process always starts by defining your users and documenting your vision about any problems, opportunities, and values you want addressed. We’ll then work to capture this vision through a team, with specific roles as we go through the process. This is what the agile manifesto is all about.
First off, we have the user, or the customer. This is who you’re targeting, and they will be denoted with their different needs and behaviors. Then we have you – the product owner. You’re the voice and will distill all the insights, ideas, and feedback that we need to create the vision you have in mind. You’ll know who the customer is and what they’re looking for, even if the vision is a little bit broad.
At this point, the product owner will break down the overall vision into user stories that will detail more about who the user is, what is being solved, and why this solution is a good one. Beyond this, we’ll learn about what constraints there are on your work, and our team will have a shared understanding of what we need to do.
That’s where the software development team comes in. Your multidisciplinary team will have all the people you need to get the job done and deliver functional software. They will be the people who develop the software and demoed the whole application, and they will therefore have to work together and collaborate. That’s what applying agile methodology in software development is all about.
What About Agile Scrum?
There are also agile frameworks that are made to help you with the development process and the agile practices—one of which is agile scrum. Agile scrum is a project management methodology that relies on the practice of incremental development.
Basically, the team will work in iterations. Every two to four weeks, the team will have a goal to build the most important features of your software first. The whole point is to check in along increments and to work on delivering the best product possible.
Beyond just working in increments, scrum is valuable because of how it incorporates adjustments along each increment. We can learn from customer feedback as we go along, and can therefore make your project the best one possible.
Unlike other systems, which deliver the entire product all at once, scrum emphasizes building your project one step at a time. The whole point is to give stakeholders the highest business value as soon as possible.
What are the benefits of scrum? We can build your products faster, since we have to complete our goals within a certain time frame. We also have to plan frequently and adjust our goals, which will help our team fulfill your objectives quickly, therefore increasing our overall productivity.
Scrum is one of the best frameworks that will make our teams and collaboration effective.
Values and Principles of Agile
The Agile approach to software development consists of 4 basic values and 7 principles which aim to guide the development of a high quality software. Using these principles included in the agile manifesto, and within systems like scrum, we are able to improve our productivity overall.
The 4 values determine what should be prioritized compared to traditional methods
Value People Over Processes and Tools
People drive impact, innovation and directly respond to business needs. Team interactions should be prioritized because without proper team communication, goals won’t be met and there will be less motivation to work effectively.
Customer needs are quickly met through people interactions while processes need scheduling and content. At the end of the day, processes and tools won’t be able to develop the software alone. Agile is all about teams and how they interact.
Value Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
With the Agile approach, collaboration between the customer and developer is essential to make sure the product meets customer needs in all phases of the project. The customer is involved periodically during the development phase in different ways such as receiving daily progress reports and making changes as needed, or testing the project in intervals.
This is unlike the traditional method where clients are only involved in negotiating the contract and receiving the final results.
Value Responding to Change Over Planning
Planning assumes that the components of the plan such as expenses, timeline and details are fixed. Realistically, this is not the case. Changes happen as unpredictable events may disrupt your working flow, and you and your teams need to learn to adapt. Using an agile process like scrum, it is integral to prioritize responding to change to continuously improve the project.
Value a Working Software Over Documentation
Documentation is important to keep track of the specific requirements and numerous technical aspects of the project. However, with Agile, there is emphasis on the core aspects of the project development rather than going through every single detail. This allows us to focus on specific tasks and work to improve the software without being slowed down.
Agile Software Development Life Cycle
There are 7 key stages in Agile’s software development life cycle.
Team members are allocated roles and determine the resources needed in the long run. The first stage of the process highlights the return on investment and project goals.
An initial documentation with a list of requirements is needed to have a road map of the key functionalities and end result of the software. This allows our developers to focus on essential components and avoid adding unnecessary functions that will only sidetrack the process.
In the design stage, we discuss the visual aspects of the software and seek to answer the questions formed in the planning phase such as the tools needed to achieve the wanted results and the type of programming language that will be used. During the UI/UX design stage, developers focus on drafting the user interface and envision user experience.
Once the core requirements have been reviewed and approved by clients and stakeholders, developers begin to write the code and turn all design plans into a first version of the software. The team will continuously test the product in different stages and seek solutions accordingly based on client preferences.
Production and Deployment
The final version of the product is finally produced. At this stage developers look for minor bugs and defects that were missed during testing.
In the review phases, the team takes a step back and takes a look at all the issues that arose in the precedent phases. Team members suggest solutions to begin a new lifecycle or to repeat the process for the same software
The final stage involves the retirement of the software for many reasons. For instance, a new product will replace it with better functionality or the product is too old, and therefore no longer supported.
7 Key Principles to Support Efficient Software Development
- Ensure customer satisfaction by making sure customers receive continuous product delivery without waiting for extended periods of time.
- Trust your team and foster a motivating environment to deliver the highest quality product possible. Having decision-making power within the team allows quick communication to maximize product design and functionality.
- Meet changing requirements as needed to avoid delays.
- Ensure regular delivery of working software within shorter time intervals. This is the primary indication of your progress.
- Collaborate with business and technical team members face-to-face to foster effective communication and productivity.
- Enhance agility by paying attention to technical details and design as the team seeks to constantly improve the product.
- Measure team efficiency and seek for skill and technical improvements. Strive to maximize your work quality through simplicity and avoid rushing to get the job done.
Benefits of Agile Software Development
In addition to the values and principles that improve overall software development, there are other advantages to Agile as well.
Agile software development improves team productivity as developers are always meeting production deadlines and seeking to improve functionality and methodology in every step of the way.
Developers fix issues they encounter through the process immediately and continuously test their codes to make sure that everything is in order and minimize any risks and losses.
This prevents them from backtracking their steps and losing time, and allows developers to focus on rapid delivery, meet business goals, and add value. It makes extreme programming and the usage of tools like scrum that much easier as well.
Customers are continuously involved in the software development process and give their input early on to ensure the project is a success. By seeing the process, it gives customers a realistic expectation of what can or cannot be done, and the sorts of issues that may arise and thus adjust their needs accordingly.
Furthermore, collaborating with the client allows the developer to understand the client’s vision, and improves the overall trust between both parties.
Traditionally, software development is a long and complicated process that is difficult to manage due to its many details. However, with Agile, managers have a clearer idea of what’s going on as they’re able to see the overall roadmap by pinpointing the issues that arise, calling for changes to be made and measuring customer satisfaction.
Agile allows for increased transparency through better management practices and more client involvement.
Challenges of Agile Software Development
Like every framework, there are bound to be challenges as well.
Enforcing Behavioral change
Agile is a new working method that may not be as easily adapted by some. It’s difficult to adapt to change if a team has always done their work one way.
Weak Cross-Functioning Team
The term developer is often seen to refer to programmers. However, developers are everyone that is involved in the product development and delivery process. Teams need to understand the cross-functioning concept, which means maximizing potential within the developer team while focusing on customer value and always having a working product on hand.
Emphasis on Contract on the Business Side
As the Agile approach doesn’t hold contracts as the sole foundation of software development between clients and developers, business stakeholders may feel uncomfortable losing their grip on this control. Agile is based on collaboration and flexibility which can mean an emphasis on contract is reduced.
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Agile software development is an innovative process that has benefits on multiple fronts. This includes productivity, quality, teamwork and customer relationships. It is a method that is increasingly being adopted by developers for these reasons with promising results. Ecodelogic is one of the best software companies in Orlando – call us today to see how we can partner with you for your software development!