The Basics of the Agile Software Development Process

basics of agile software development processWhen it comes to software development, a company may be interested in seeking a new or different methodology to implement its standard practices. The agile software development approach has increased significantly in popularity in recent years due to its ability to produce top tier products.

Agile software development is an iterative process that enables developers to collaborate collectively across highly functional development teams in order to produce an end-product that has been tested and debugged throughout the project. This unique approach to software development facilitates flexibility, adaptive planning and rapid delivery through small incremental iterations referred to as “sprints.”

An agile approach to software development may be just the methodological switch a company needs to produce better products more efficiently.

Compared to the traditional linear development process often associated with the waterfall approach, agile developers work on small stages of the project in an incremental fashion in order to test and fix and issues that come about before moving onto the next step. When stakeholders want to change or add something to the project, working in an agile scrum approach allows the team to adapt quickly and efficiently. Compared to waterfall, agile positions development teams to save time and money when changes are needed.

Basic Concepts of Agile Software Development

It may seem a bit overwhelming at first to transition to an entirely new model of software development, yet over time the agile approach often feels intuitive to many.  There are some basic concepts associated with agile and scrum that are highly valuable in gaining a better understanding of the methodology. Here’s an overview of five basic concepts used in the agile software development approach:

  1. Team Involvement – In agile, team members work in cross-functional collaborative teams. It’s imperative to the agile approach that together, teams clearly establish requirements and prioritize efforts needed to carry out tasks effectively.
  2. Small increments – Agile developers work in small, iterative increments referred to as “sprints.” Working in sprints allows the team to develop, test and analyze before moving on to the next step. Incremental steps help to increase value, work with more flexibility, provide more accurate time estimates, and help manage overall project costs.
  3. Deliverables – Working in small incremental steps along the way also enables the team to frequently produce deliverables to stakeholders and product owners when requested. By producing deliverable material on a frequent basis, the team ultimately has a better handle on where they are on the product backlog and what tasks lay ahead. It also tends to increase overall team morale.
  4. Testing – When using an agile approach, developers will only move on to the next stage of the project when one is completed. Frequent testing during iterations allows developers to better test the quality of the product, allowing them to move on to the next stage with greater confidence.
  5. Communication – In agile, communication is vital to all members of the team and this includes product owners and external stakeholders. Communication enables the team to respond quickly and accurately to any and all request from stakeholders. Effective communication among all members of the team is at the heart of the agile approach.

When a company is considering a new methodology for product development, it is not a decision to be made lightly. Getting buy-in from team members can sometimes be a challenging process, especially if people have many years of experience using a particular approach to software development. Understanding the basics of agile is an important first step in determining whether this approach is right for you and your team. While it may not be for every software project, from our experience, implementing an agile approach has helped many companies go from producing good products to producing great ones.