The Agile Development Life Cycle
The digital landscape is all about speed and innovation. How quickly can you produce something new and exciting? Can you do it faster and better than your competitors? Agile software development methodology can help.
The digital landscape is all about speed and innovation. How quickly can you produce something new and exciting? Can you do it faster and better than your competitors? The answers to these questions determine your success.
It should come as no surprise then that digital companies who want to remain relevant need software development teams who can rapidly innovate, and produce new products at breakneck speeds.
Agile software development life cycle (SDLC) was created specifically to address this challenge.
Agile is a widely-known process for project management. The beauty of Agile is that it is made up of a series of small, continuous cycles, with constant collaboration with stakeholders happening throughout.
As its name implies, agile is also highly flexible, responding to change throughout the process.
Rather than planning for months of development, only to realize at the end of the process that the product doesn’t do what you need it to, the Agile cycle has teams working in short bursts.
So, a team may work in two-week increments, improving and iterating, and continually cycling through planning, executing, and evaluating.
With this approach, teams ensure that they end up with the most valuable product possible, get customer buy-in early on and throughout the process, and are continuously delivering.
The agile method’s iterative approach is ultimately about a set of values, which were first made popular in The Agile Manifesto. These values drive all agile processes.
The Agile lifecycle is about putting people before processes and tools. This means prioritizing collaboration over a complex document that no one bothers to read.
While tools and processes are certainly important, they’re practically useless if you don’t have capable team members working together effectively.
Additionally, the nature of Agile means that there will be close, daily, (ideally face-to-face) conversations among team members, so identifying those who will work together well is critical.
This way, you can build your projects around motivated, trustworthy people, who are certain to deliver for clients.
That might seem obvious, yet how often does the software development lifecycle result in excessive documentation?
Yes, it’s helpful to have some documentation so that people can understand how the software was built and how to use it, but the end goal is to deliver working software.
This can be accomplished via great designing and heightened attention to technical excellence.
The heart of Agile software development methodology is about bringing value to the customer as early as possible.
Having a contract is certainly important, but far more significant is getting customer buy-in early on and continuously throughout each iteration.
Regularly, an Agile team will reflect on how to become more effective, and adjust accordingly. These reflections involve feedback from clients, who are continuously consulted throughout each iteration.
An Agile process is a fluid, not linear approach. Its flexibility makes it easier to shift direction as needed, without undoing weeks of work.
It also means that team members need to be willing to change requirements, even late in the process.
While Agile is becoming increasingly popular, the Waterfall method is still preferred by many organizations due to its predictability and known costs.
Unlike the Agile cycle, which is far more flexible and fluid, and may even result in a product that looks and functions differently than you had initially thought, Waterfall gives you certainty.
Consequently, it can be intimidating to make the switch. Even armed with the knowledge of the life cycle, Agile isn’t set in stone. It changes and adapts as needed, and in response to stakeholders.
If you’re under time or money constraints, it’s easy to want to default to Waterfall, even though you may recognize the superior product that Agile can produce.
Unfortunately, there are also a number of myths surrounding the Agile development life cycle that sometimes prevent businesses from adopting it.
The three most common misconceptions include:
In actuality, the long term financial risks associated with Waterfall or other traditional development methods are far higher.
This is because Agile ensures that teams evolve the project as more discoveries are made, responding to new information rather than sticking to an inflexible plan. This more fluid approach eliminates backtracking. Particularly in software development, backtracking can become needlessly expensive.
Accordingly, Agile also has a much higher success rate than traditional Waterfall methodology (64% compared to just 49%).
Agile can also be deployed effectively in companies of all sizes. Many enterprise companies utilize Agile methodology, including LEGO & Cisco.
And while buy-in can be challenging whenever any kind of change is presented, people will adapt when you show them a better way. Having a good change management plan can help with this.
The goal of the Agile software development life cycle is ultimately about bringing value as early and continuously as possible.
In today’s environment, this can give your company a critically important edge over the competition.
Ready to learn more? Contact the team of experts at Object Edge.
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