Today’s software companies have a very different portfolio – from the design of websites, mobile app development, embedded software for cars, medical devices and much more. The adoption of the Agile methodology in the software companies is very important in this dynamic environment. On the market, there are many available development and project management practices, but the agile approach promises a fast and efficient way for product delivery with fewer obstructions and impediments on the way.
Agile’s values are known widely. This method has enabled teams of both large companies and small startups to produce high-quality software – on time and within budget. If your company is planning to apply agile software development practices, your entire team will have to adopt them to maintain a clear advantage and deliver the best products to customers.
Why Waterfall fails
In order to perceive the agile’s advantages, you must first learn the traditional method for developing software, often called “waterfall.” Waterfall projects usually start with a completed requirement documents, written over several weeks or even months: functional requirements, technical requirements, marketing requirements, product requirements, and so on. The actual development will start when all these documents will be approved.
When the development begins, it will last until all requirements have been coded according to spec, then the quality assurance team takes over. In the meantime, changes in the market environment may appear that can cause customer needs to change as well. But your specs are defined months earlier and much of the development budget has been spent, so manoeuvring to meet the new client demands is painful, if not impossible.
Also, if a waterfall project falls behind schedule, that will decrease the final two phases, quality assurance and customer testing. In such case, the result is an application that does not meet customer and business needs.
The benefits of Agile
In the agile software development, the client of the software product is always informed about the progress of the project and he decides (together with the team) what should be done in the next sprint. This permanent interaction between the development team and the client will ensure that the client will get all the required functionalities.
The Agile software is developed during one unit of time, which is usually from 1 to 4 weeks, and it is called iteration. Each iteration is a complete software project, including requirements, design, coding, testing and documentation. Iteration may not have enough functionality, but the aim is to have an available release without bugs at the end of each iteration.
During the project, there is a list of features and properties expected of the final product, and they are put in the product backlog. Features in the backlog are arranged in order of priority from the most important to the least important. The product owner is a role that takes care of the items in the product backlog. The project team determines how much work is needed to be done in each iteration. Further on, we need to identify priorities based on business needs of the client.
As you can see, the agile methodology adapts itself to the changing market conditions, thus enabling your software to be more relevant for customers.
Agile behaviour is a must
All the agile tools you can apply will not make your teams more efficient. The purpose of the tools is simply to improve your teams’ processes and to enable better team communication.
Managers must feel relaxed with approving development teams to self-organize around their work during each iteration; not just who does what, but also how they are organised for the delivery.
Developers, testers, and all software engineers must learn to work together during the project, sharing responsibility for quality, stability, and performance instead of just putting the responsibility on the next team.
All team members have to accept the idea that delivering less, high-quality features is better than to produce a large number of items that don’t work well.
Today, the agile software development practices are very highly ranked in the programming community; so much that leading developers cordially prefer it. If your business has adopted the agile methodology, you will easily attract and retain a quality team of software engineers. Also, Agile should not be implemented only in the departments of the engineering and IT. You can apply Agile to all sectors of the business: planning, marketing, and even HR.