We use software and apps every day to plan rideshares, order food, and play games. But have you considered the time, effort, and resources it takes to build software from start to finish?
Software, even at its most basic level, is complex. So successful software developers must use project management frameworks like Agile to streamline the entire process and create the perfect app.
But how does Agile development work, and what steps are involved in the process? In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about Agile software development.
What Is the Agile Development Methodology?
Agile development is a project management methodology that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools. The Agile Manifesto, which was created in 2001, outlines the four main values and twelve principles of Agile development.
The four Agile values give you an inside look at what the methodology is founded upon:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change by following a plan
In other words, Agile development focuses on creating working software quickly, collaborating with customers frequently, and being able to adapt to changes easily. This methodology is especially beneficial for projects that are complex or have uncertain requirements.
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How Does Agile Development Work?
Now that we know the basics of Agile development, let's take a more in-depth look at how it works. We can break the Agile process down into three main stages:
In the preparation stage, the product owner creates a backlog of features they want to include in the final product. This is known as the product backlog. Then, the development team estimates how long each feature will take to build.
2. Sprint planning
The sprint planning meeting is where the team decides which features from the product backlog they are going to work on during the sprint.
A sprint is a set period (usually two weeks) during which the development team must achieve a specific goal. The team also decides how many of each type of task they can complete during the sprint.
For example, the team may decide they can complete three coding tasks, two testing tasks, and one documentation task during the sprint. This information is then added to the sprint backlog.
During the sprint, the team works on completing the tasks in the sprint backlog. They may also come across new issues to address. If this happens, they will add these issues to the product backlog and prioritize them accordingly. At the end of the sprint, the development team should have completed all features in the sprint backlog.
If not, the team will carry them over to the next sprint. The team then holds a sprint review meeting where they demo completed features to the product owner and stakeholders. They also discuss what went well during the sprint and how they could improve their next one.
Finally, the team holds a retrospective meeting, where they reflect on what went well and what didn't go so well during the sprint. They then create a plan of action for addressing these issues in future sprints. This feedback loop helps to ensure that each sprint is more successful than the last.
Why Is Agile Development Important?
Agile development is important because it helps to ensure that development teams complete projects on time and within budget. It also helps to improve communication between the development team and the product owner.
Additionally, Agile development methodology can help reduce the risks associated with complex projects. It allows for development teams to make changes quickly and easily without affecting the overall project timeline.
What Are the Benefits of Agile Development Methodology?
There are many benefits of agile development methodology, some of which include:
Increased flexibility: Agile development is more flexible than other project management methodologies. Development teams can make changes on the fly more easily.
Improved communication: Agile development helps to improve communication between the development team and the product owner. Because of this, there is a greater focus on collaboration and feedback.
Reduced risks: Agile development can help to reduce the risks associated with complex projects. By breaking down complex projects into smaller sprints, project managers can dissect them and achieve shareholder demands.
Increased customer satisfaction: Agile development environments often lead to increased customer satisfaction. This is because the customer is involved in the development process and provides feedback at each stage of the project.
What Are the Disadvantages of Agile Development Methodology?
There are also some disadvantages of agile development methodology, which include:
Limited control: Because agile development is more flexible, it can be difficult for a project owner to exert control over the project. This is a problem for projects that need to meet strict deadlines or stay within a certain budget.
Lack of documentation: Agile development often produces less documentation than other project management methodologies. This is an issue for projects that require extensive documentation.
High level of collaboration: The high level of collaboration required by agile development can be a problem for remote teams that are not used to working together. This can lead to conflict and frustration.
Complex projects can be lengthy: Agile development often requires more time than other project management methodologies. This is due to the need for more frequent meetings and the need to create more documentation.
Agile Methodology vs. Scrum
Agile development is a broad term that can refer to any project management methodology that uses an iterative and flexible approach. Scrum is a specific type of agile development that focuses on short, time-boxed sprints. Usually, these time-boxed sprints span a month or less, with another one beginning immediately after the last.
Both agile development and scrum are important tools for managing complex projects. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses.
Benefits of Agile development over Scrum include:
Agile development is more flexible than Scrum. This means that it can be easier to make changes during the project.
Agile development produces less documentation than Scrum. This can be an advantage if you don't need extensive documentation for your project.
Agile development can be a good choice for projects that are not well suited to Scrum's time-boxed sprints. For example, if your project has a long timeline, Agile development might be a better option.
Disadvantages of Agile development over Scrum include:
Scrum is more structured than agile development. This means that it can be easier to stay on track and meet deadlines.
Scrum can be a good choice for projects that need to be completed quickly. This is since the time-boxed sprints force the development team to focus on completing the project in a certain time frame.
Scrum produces more documentation than Agile development. This is an advantage if you need extensive documentation for your project.
Agile vs. Kanban
Kanban is another type of Agile development that uses a different approach to project management. Kanban focuses on creating a visual representation of the work that development teams must complete. One great example of this is the traditional to-do, in-progress, and done Kanban board for software projects. This helps to keep the team organized and focused.
Benefits of Kanban over Agile include:
Kanban can help to reduce the amount of time spent in meetings. The visual representation of the work makes it easy to see what the development team needs to do and who is responsible for each task.
Kanban can help to reduce confusion and conflict within the development team. Each task is assigned to a specific person and there is no room for interpretation.
Kanban can be a good choice for projects that require a high level of coordination between development team members.
Disadvantages of Kanban over Agile include:
Kanban can be more difficult to implement than agile development. It requires a visual way of thinking about project management.
Kanban can be a good choice for projects that are well suited to Agile development. However, it might not be the best choice for every project.
Agile vs. XP
XP focuses on creating a set of best practices that the development team can follow. These “best practices” deal mainly with improving the quality of a project, such as putting a higher emphasis on testing and shareholder satisfaction. For example, one of the core values of XP is rapid feedback. Team members are expected to be as candid as possible about the project to create a final product that’s indisputably great.
Benefits of XP over Agile include:
XP can help to improve the quality of the code. The core values of XP help to ensure that the code is written in a consistent and clean manner.
XP can help to reduce the amount of time spent in meetings. This is because the best practices help to keep the meetings focused and on track.
Disadvantages of XP over Agile include:
XP can be more difficult to implement than agile development. This is because it requires a different way of thinking about project management.
XP can be a good choice for projects that are well suited to Agile development. However, it might not be the best choice for every project, specifically more complex projects that require more emphasis on moving parts rather than the final product.
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Agile development is a crucial framework for completing all kinds of projects, from software development projects to marketing campaigns. Agile practitioners can:
Break up comprehensive projects into individual tasks, called sprints.
Make projects more efficient and less time-consuming.
Involve all shareholders and collaborators in a way that’s conducive to total success.