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July 22, 2020

The Agile Development Life Cycle

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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.

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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 methodology was created specifically to address this challenge.

Agile is a widely-known process for project management. Essentially, a team manages a project by breaking it up into several stages. Each stage involves constant collaboration with stakeholders. 

Throughout each stage, there is improvement and iteration, continually cycling through planning, executing, and evaluating. By doing so at each stage, teams ensure that they end up with the strongest product possible.

Let’s breakdown each stage the Agile software development life cycle (SDLC).

The Stages of the Agile SDLC

Stage 1: Prioritize

In this stage, your team should scope out potential projects, and prioritize them accordingly. Perhaps some projects can be tackled simultaneously.

With each project, identify the goal, and then determine the timeframe and tasks needed to achieve it. This will allow you to calculate if the ROI is worth it.

Stage 2: Determine Requirements

Now that you’ve identified your project or projects, determine the requirements. How will the new feature or product function? How does it work in collaboration with your existing systems? 

Next, select teams to focus on the project, and assign appropriate resources to those teams. Clearly map our responsibilities and deadlines. 

Stage 3: Building & Testing

Once you’ve determined your requirements for this initial sprint, get to work. UX designers and developers will focus on the first iteration. Of course, this is simply the first pass at the product, which will be subject to numerous revisions. 

This first iteration is about setting up your base; you will most certainly have additional sprints throughout the process to further develop the product.

Stage 4: Production

Now it’s time to prepare to release your product.

You’ll need to:

  • Test the system - Your Quality Assurance (QA) team should check for bugs, test out functionality, and meticulously note the results so that they can be corrected. Testing can be an ongoing, tedious process until you get everything right. Keep testing!
  • Involve end-users - Test out your product on a small group of the intended audience.
  • Fix problems - Address bugs, defects, etc.
  • Finalize the system - Once ready, release the iteration into production.

Stage 5: Ongoing Support

During this stage, you’ll need to teach users how to use the system, keep it running smoothly, and continually monitor it until support is no longer needed or the release is retired.

Stage 6: Retirement

This is the final stage of the agile software development life cycle.

During this stage, you’ll remove the system release from production. Customers are notified and may be migrated to the new release, if relevant.

Generally, this happens when a new release is being deployed, some important updates are being made, or a product isn’t working (whether monetarily or otherwise) and it’s being phased out entirely.

Opposition to Agile

While Agile is gaining steam, the Waterfall method is still preferred by many developers due to its predictability and known costs. 

Unlike Agile, which is far more flexible and fluid, and may even result in a product that looks and functions not at all as you imagined, 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 include:

  1. Agile is expensive
  2. Agile is only for small businesses
  3. Agile requires full-team buy-in

In actuality, the 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.

In Conclusion

The goal of the Agile software development life cycle is to create and deliver superior products as quickly 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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