Today, agile stands as one of the most popular approaches that every tech company seems to practice for software development. It is due to its flexibility and evolutionary nature.
According to the 2018 report from kissflow, projects that used Agile methods are 28% more successful and nearly 71% of companies use Agile with varying frequencies.
So, What is Agile?
Agile was launched in 2001 when 17 technologists drafted the Agile Manifesto for Software development.
With the goal of developing better mobile app or web app, they wrote four major principles for agile project management:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Humans perform software development, therefore the quality of interaction between them is vital. Though tools are an important part of software development, focusing more on teamwork regardless of the tools the team uses makes great software.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation: For users and coworkers, documentation can be a great resource. However, software development aims to build software that delivers business benefits rather than vast documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: The software development team communicates with customers frequently. By listening to and getting their feedback, the team will understand what stakeholders want.
- Responding to change over following a plan: In software development, changes are a reality that your software process should reflect. A project plan should be flexible enough to change as the different cases demand.
The authors of the Agile Manifesto chose the word ‘Agile’ for the whole idea. It is because the word represented the adaptiveness and response to change, which was crucial to their approach.
Now, What is Agile Software Development?
Agile software development refers to any development process that is aligned with the concepts of the Agile Manifesto.
Following their values and principles, developers build their software in incremental, rapid cycles, instead of delivering it all at once near the end.
It works by breaking projects down into a little bit of user functionality, prioritising them, and then delivering them continuously in 2-4 cycles called Sprints or Iterations. In one short Sprint (2-4 weeks), a full development cycle is performed. It includes analysis, design, coding, testing, and product release.
At the end of each Sprint, developers release a working software solution, and the performance is evaluated by the customer. The lessons learned in each Sprint are captured in retrospectives and used in the next iterations.
So the next Sprint will be the improved version of the prior Sprint. In this way, the products are improved constantly and also the product development process.
To know how the Agile methodology really works, check out the below video.
The Benefits of Agile Development Methodology
Agile methodology is suitable for businesses that are looking to transform the way they manage their projects and the way they operate them as a whole. It helps teams manage work more efficiently and effectively and deliver the highest quality product while staying within the budget.
So, if you are a startup looking to develop a mobile app or a web app and approach a reliable team that follows Agile methodology. These are the benefits you are going to receive:
When using Agile methods for software development, the development team does not attempt to develop all features at once. Instead, they divide the project into manageable units to focus on high-quality development, testing, and collaboration.
After each iteration, they conduct testing and ask for reviews from the product owner, which is you. This method helps the team to identify expectation mismatches in the early stages of development and also helps to find and fix bugs quickly. Working on these incremental releases will ensure that each iteration results in a fully tested and working product. This way the quality of the product is improved.
It refers to the maintenance tasks that are needed to support the existing product. It includes defect resolution, refactoring, and testing.
Agile methodology helps to keep the technical debt to a minimum. If any changes in features, defects, or other maintenance tasks are needed, they are added to the “product backlog.”
Before each sprint planning session, the team reviews the backlog to determine the issues that should be addressed next. Thus, each sprint gives a new opportunity to address defects along with new feature development.
Adaptability or agility is one of the key benefits of Agile because it matters at every level of organisation.
But how does Adaptability matter?
When organisations grow, they become more complex. And it is inevitable! As anything becomes more complex, it tends to become slower. Due to the undisciplined changes in the rules of startups in every industry, incumbent players must keep up.
So, to remain competitive, organisations focus on speed, but speed without a proper strategy and efficiency cannot help you build a more efficient system. This is the reason why many companies are turning to Agile. It enables their team to plan and complete work in small pieces.
In traditional software project management methods, organisations must spend more energy adjusting the plan due to changes in requirements, market conditions, etc. And it takes more time.
But in Agile, the teams can easily make changes in the plan without giving so much effort because they release iteratively and receive feedback after each iteration.
So if there is any change or maintenance, it is added to the backlog and allotted to the next sprint considering its priority and business need.
Agile is more than just adapting to change. The goal is to deliver what is most important to the customer. When you work along with your development team, it helps them understand more about your expectations. Here, your requirements are represented as “user stories.”
When adopting agile, the team considers a humongous task as “Epic”. This body of work is segmented into particular tasks called “user stories,” based on the customer’s needs.
So, it means an epic includes multiple user stories. These user stories can be broken down into tasks and sub-tasks.
This way, teams can break down their work. So that large projects can be done efficiently. In addition, it helps the team to offer value to the customer.
The concept of user stories is a clear contrast to the lengthy requirement list developed in a traditional development methodology.
Agile development requires involvement and collaboration that one would not find in a traditional approach like a waterfall model.
In the agile method, before each iteration, the whole team reviews, validates, and agrees on which user stories they should include in the particular iteration.
The software developers, analysts, testers, and the customer work together to accomplish the features assigned to the sprint. The team conducts daily meetings to keep everyone on track. Throughout the iteration, each team member verifies each new feature added and works closely with the developers. It allows them to make sure that they meet your needs.
There is often a level of uncertainty in the traditional approach that doesn’t normally appear in Agile software development.
In the traditional method, it is possible to do product testing only at the end of the project. However, waiting until the end to perform testing leaves the team unsure if the product meets your requirements.
But if you approach the Agile method for your mobile app or web app development, this risk is reduced. Developing a product in a sprint allows the team to find out whether they are on track.
Product testing is done after every iteration, and you give them feedback after each iteration. It allows the team to ensure that they are producing value at every release.
Also Read: How to Manage Risks in Software Development
In traditional methodology, development teams give time estimates to deliver a user story in a format: days, weeks, and months. However, many agile teams have transitioned to “story points.”
When the team takes user stories for implementation, they will estimate their complexity using different estimation techniques. One of the popular techniques we use is “Planning Poker”.
Based on this technique, every team member will start discussing each story’s story points. The teams will assign story points to each story based on the factors such as work complexity, the amount of work, and the risk or uncertainty.
For instance, consider the user story: to change the colour of an existing UI button. As it is a less complex task, the estimated story point that the team member might assign will be number “1”.
For a bit more complex task, the estimated story point will be 2. Likewise, the estimation number will change according to the complexity of the feature and the other factors mentioned above.
At the beginning of a particular sprint, the team considers the first 10 tasks and assigns story points. For example, if the sum of the story points is 100, their initial commitment will be to complete 100 story points in the particular sprint.
Based on the tasks completed, the story points are closed, which will be reduced from 100. It is called burn down.
Based on the story points closed (according to the tasks completed), the team’s burn down chart will progress. This way the team’s performance will be evaluated.
Around two sprints later, the team will get to know how this trend actually works. It means over time, they will understand how much estimation they can commit for a sprint.
Suppose they failed to complete 100 story points in each sprint but completed 70 story points. Then, the team understands their capacity to meet a commitment and can plan the next sprint accordingly.
Story points reward team members for solving issues based on their complexity, not time spent. This keeps team members focus on shipping value, not spending time.
In agile, customers (you) can participate in sprints. Keeping you in the loop and making changes based on your feedback will help the team ensure that your needs are being met.
After each sprint, seeing a working product will help you realise that your team can deliver releases fast and frequently. In addition, it makes sure that the final product they release will be according to your expectations.
Another great advantage of the Agile method is that it significantly reduces the go-to-market time. This lets you capitalise the opportunity successfully. In some cases, you can enjoy the first-mover advantage.
Using time-boxed and fixed schedule sprints, the team delivers a service, product, or new features at a higher frequency with a strong level of predictability.
It allows beta testing of the software earlier than it was scheduled if there is sufficient business value.
In Agile, the team works along with you to find out what goes into each iteration. So, everyone in the team knows the requirements that should be delivered. Also, there is less chance of surprises or unplanned features included in the sprint.
The daily standup meetings conducted by the team make everyone aware of the project status. So, the team can quickly address the issues that arise in each iteration.
Planning meetings enable the team to prepare for the next sprint. Retrospectives help the team learn from the previous sprint and apply new methods to improve future sprints.
So, in agile development, the quality is ensured throughout the project’s implementation phase due to better control.
The positive aspects of Agile are not hidden; they are very much evident in areas like reduced time to market, lower costs, improved communications, etc. Many businesses have had success with the advantages of Agile.
With Agile, teams can quickly adapt to requirement changes without affecting your project development, which can be a mobile app or web app. Also, it does not negatively impact your project release dates.
So, if you think Agile is the right fit for your next project, keep in mind that NeoITO has adopted Agile methodology in software development. It helps us create lean, timely, and effective solutions that help achieve our client’s goals.