What is Agile Software Development & why is it so important?
Most successful software development teams embrace the continuous delivery approach. But have you ever wondered how this practice became the holy grail of software development? The roots of continuous delivery can be traced back to the inception of Agile methods. The Agile methodology has become more than just a buzzword; it has revolutionized many software teams and added immense value to the concept of DevOps. Numerous successful companies, including Google, Cisco, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and Procter & Gamble, employ this methodology. Their software development teams have reported remarkable results, further affirming the effectiveness of this approach.
Before delving into the concept of agile software development, consider a moment when you participated in a complex software project, collaborating with various roles and individuals. Did you receive feedback? Did you explore new information to determine what works best? Did you engage with the team to achieve your desired result? If so, you've experienced agility and the Agile methodology. At its core, agility is about processing new information and swiftly adapting your strategy to achieve a constantly evolving outcome.
What is Agile?
Agile is a term used to describe a fast response and reaction to change. In software development, the Agile approach involves continuous delivery, team collaboration, ongoing planning, and learning to deliver an optimal end result. The word "Agile" was particularly chosen by the authors of the agile manifesto because it represents the core principles of the methodology which are adaptability and rapid response to change.
The Agile Manifesto was developed in 2001 with the sole aim of innovating better ways of software development for individuals and organizations. It's guided by four main values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change by following a plan
The adoption of the Agile methodology has become a competitive edge for software development teams and IT departments. Companies that have incorporated this approach into their software delivery processes are yielding great returns.
What is Agile Software Development?
Agile software development refers to a set of practices deployed based on the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto. It is a framework representing adaptive planning, iterations, and continuous delivery. Rather than focusing on a final product output, Agile software development prioritizes working in increments, with constant feedback and release cycles to launch a product faster.
Organizations that use the Agile methodology focus on the clean delivery of individual contributions to the software development process, not the entirety of the application. These companies are confident in achieving high-quality products due to the constant Agile process.
Beyond its processes, Agile is a mindset, a set of values that must be embraced to achieve great results. It is a way of thinking and responding — instant feedback, continuous delivery, failing fast, and team collaboration.
For companies in the development stage of a product, Agile is the process of managing a software development procedure in an iterative and adaptable way to create a minimum viable product (MVP). This MVP then undergoes various iterations based on continual feedback and collaboration, refining the product before its official launch to the market. Feedback is a crucial element in the Agile process because continuous iterations and collaboration ensure a premium product.
One distinguishing factor between Agile and other development methodologies like the Waterfall method is that Agile focuses on the people who do the work and how they work together. That is the collaboration of software teams to achieve a specific project.
Many businesses have tried to adopt this methodology but to fully adopt the Agile methodology in software development, it's essential to have an Agile team. This team is composed of specialized experts who collaborate on an assigned project to deliver a high-quality product. Agile teams operate under the principles of Agile project management, prioritizing speed, flexibility, and adaptability over traditional project management methods. These teams are structured to be highly responsive to change, customer feedback, and strategic adjustments, aligning with the principles of self-organization and cross-functional teamwork.
For successful software development, Agile teams adhere to key practices that enable them to manage unexpected situations and deal with uncertainty effectively. In its simplest terms, Agile development is the process of working on software delivery swiftly and collaboratively, while receiving and implementing feedback from customers frequently. This approach facilitates continuous product improvement and seamless adaptation to any changes in requirements or project direction.
Why is Agile Software Development Important?
Agile development is important because it enables software development teams to deliver high-quality projects within established timelines and budgets. This development process enhances collaboration and communication among the specialized professionals working on the projects. For example, at Devsu, we have a team of over 200 skilled tech experts who work on various complex projects. With the Agile software development method in place, our teams have seamless communication through daily stand-ups, planning sessions, sprints, and test-driven developments. The Agile development methodology helps us minimize the risk associated with these complex projects. Significantly, the Agile development approach enables changes to be made quickly without disrupting the project's timelines, leading to improved quality of projects and satisfied customers. It's unsurprising why the Agile method is so popular among organizations; it helps increase the speed of workflows and allows organizations to keep up with the fast-paced nature of their industries. This is why McKinsey & Company recognized agility for its transformational benefits, stating that "Agility is catching fire," and acknowledging that Agile organizations differ from traditional ones.
How Does Agile Software Development Work?
Imagine you're tasked with a set of projects and you want to adopt the Agile methodology, but you're wondering how you and your team can approach this. To help you tackle this, here's a clear process on how Agile development works: