The agile approach to software development has been gaining in popularity over the last decade as many companies recognize the benefits of using an agile development methodology.
A primary feature of the agile development methodology involves organizing projects into a series of regular, predictable iterations, typically called “sprints.” While the length of these sprints may vary depending on the team and the project, they are typically organized to last between one week and one month.
The agile development methodology is most often juxtaposed to the waterfall approach to software development. One of the major differences between these two methodologies involves the use of software testing. In a waterfall development model, software is first created and then tested prior to implementation. With an agile development methodology, software testing is conducted throughout the entire coding process.
Scrum is another popular methodology used by many using an agile development methodology. This is a collaborative approach that facilitates cross-functional teamwork, ongoing communication, and a clear focus towards shared goals.
7 Benefits of Using An Agile Development Methodology
The popularity of the agile development methodology is on the rise for a number of different reasons. Here are 7 benefits of using the agile development methodology:
- Greater Transparency – The agile development methodology enables a more inclusive approach to software development which keeps everyone updated on the status of the project. Transparency is emphasized from start to finish and stakeholders often report a clearer understanding of the entire project.
- Better Communication – The agile and scrum approach to software development promotes frequent ongoing communication between everyone involved in the project. This predictable, organized communication flow tends to improve clarity, while encouraging team work.
- Increased Productivity – Because the agile development methodology breaks up the workload into smaller pieces and deliverables are finished in short iterations, productivity tends to rise. This is attributed in part to the fact that the software engineers are less likely to get off track on a project, and when problems do occur, they are identified and resolved more quickly.
- Increased Team Optimism – By dividing a project up into smaller, achievable pieces, many software engineers experience a greater sense of overall satisfaction. Ongoing accomplishments tend to be celebrated and recognized, and progress is better measured, which typically increases the overall morale of the project team. The frequent team communication also tends to foster tighter bonds, greater trust and better teamwork.
- Higher Quality Work – Because the software testing process is ongoing with the agile development methodology, problems are identified and fixed along the way. This tends to lead to a higher quality end product that is more likely to meet the requirements and expectations of all the stakeholders involved.
- Easier Budgeting – Cost estimates for a project using the agile development methodology are generally provided at the start of each sprint. Estimating the budget is more accurate for shorter and more predictable chunks of work. It is also possible to modify costs more easily by making budget-minded decisions about changes to project requirements and features.
- Improved Stakeholder Engagement – The agile development methodology requires stakeholder involvement throughout the course of a project, rather than just at the beginning and the end. Encouraging stakeholders to provide regular input on an ongoing basis tends to increase overall engagement while reducing frustration and uncertainty.
While the agile approach to software development is dynamic, the fundamental structure yields a variety of benefits to everyone involved in the project. Not only does the agile development methodology tend to improve team morale but it also tends to save companies time and money. Given the multiple benefits, a growing number of companies are shifting to an agile development methodology.