What is Agile Methodology in Software Development?

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Julia Sakovich , Author at Geomotiv
Reviewed by Sergey Lobko-Lobanovsky, CEO at Geomotiv
Published: Aug 30, 2023

The quality of your software products is of vital importance to your business. But that’s not the only parameter that will influence your success. The approach to building your solution applied by the custom software development company also matters and, at a particular period, even plays a crucial role. Today several widely used methodologies have their strong and weak sides. And to make the right choice, you need to have enough information and fully understand all the benefits you can enjoy in each case.

In this article, we’d like to tell you about the peculiarities of Agile methodology in software development life cycle and explain its advantages and disadvantages (if any).

What is Agile Software Development Methodology?

First of all, let us share a basic definition of this term.

Agile methodology in software development is an approach to managing projects which presupposes breaking the project into phases (iterations or sprints) and focusing on continuous improvement and collaboration.

This methodology dramatically relies on building close cooperation between cross-functional teams and a product owner responsible for client interaction. This efficient collaboration should be made in the form of a dialogue and include regular feedback from the customer. And namely, it is believed to be the critical condition for achieving success.

Principles of Agile Methodology in Software Development

All the main principles of this approach are stated in the Agile Manifesto. It unites the core guiding practices that help teams to implement this methodology and build their processes by it.

The Agile Manifesto unites the following ideas:

  • Continuous delivery of high-quality software solutions;
  • Possibility to introduce any changes to the requirement after the start of the project realization;
  • Frequency in delivering working software (or its separate features);
  • Daily cooperation between developers and product owners;
  • Support of highly-motivated specialists who can guide the whole project development;
  • Face-to-face conversation is the best way of delivering information;
  • Working software solutions as the primary measurements of success and progress of the project realization;
  • Sustainable development;
  • Focus on the high quality of the tech side of the product and its design;
  • Simplicity of tasks and optimization of work volumes;
  • Self-organization within teams;
  • Team discussion of the efficiency of the established processes and readiness to make adjustments.

Why We Use Agile Methodology in Software Development

Very often, our clients ask us about the reasons for relying on Agile methodology in software development. 

It is a perfect model from the perspective of businesses. It is consistently named as the opposite of the traditional Waterfall methodology. While Waterfall presupposes a linear approach to project management, Agile is much more flexible and allows teams to conduct different phases of their projects concurrently.

Waterfall includes rigid planning with strict budgets and timeframes. Agile is a significantly more vivid approach that ensures enough space for maneuvers. Very often, software solution development can take up to several years. Within these years, requirements can significantly change (and, in most cases, more than once). Implementing any updates with the Waterfall model may take a lot of work. But with Agile, it will be straightforward.

why we use agile methodology in software development - agile vs waterfall

Agile is based on communication between clients and developers, and their close and regular interaction guarantees the highest efficiency and value of final results to end-users. And at Geomotiv, we highly value transparency and openness, which correspond to the Agile principles. That’s why in all the cases when this project management model can be applicable and helpful, we always offer customers to opt for it.

On our blog, we’ve shared our secrets that help to achieve this goal and to efficiently implement Agile principles in the work of your developers.

Read this article

How Agile Methodology Works in Software Development

When we only start discussing with our customers the possibility of applying this project management methodology to their projects, they always wonder how Agile principles can be used for software development and how the entire process will be organized.

To allow you better understand this, we offer you to look at the core stages that will be included in the process of your project realization.

Establishment of communication with a client. First of all, it will be required to assign a product owner. This person will help to build a bridge between a development team and a client. This specialist will gather and explain all the requirements and other information from stakeholders to developers. Conditions should be provided before every iteration to set the goals for the upcoming work.

Creation of a project backlog. A product owner is traditionally responsible for elaborating a prioritized list of tasks for every iteration. This list is called a project backlog. It is necessary to modify this list when requirements change or when stakeholders provide feedback and new important tasks appear.

Agile software development cycle. As we’ve already stated, the development cycle is divided into iterations. Each typically lasts 2-4 weeks (in some cases, there can be exceptions), and they always include the exact steps typical for traditional software development projects, from gathering requirements and preparing specifications to testing and production.

    The stages of each iteration are the following:

    • Planning and definition of requirements (setting goals, discussing the priority of tasks, and the responsibilities of each team member);
    • Design and development (coding, building features, integrations, and creating interfaces);
    • QA and debugging;
    • Delivery of the working functionality to a customer;
    • Getting clients’ feedback and its analysis.
    agile methodology in software development - an iteration process

    After the end of this cycle, stakeholders can analyze the work results, ask their questions, and provide feedback. The stakeholders' opinions should be collected and processed by the development team and taken as a foundation for further planning of the development process.

    agile methodology in software development lifecycle

    Release. When the product owner accepts the iteration results, they should be released into production. After this work, updating the project backlog and defining tasks for the upcoming iteration is necessary.

    The number of iterations that will be required for the creation of a final solution can’t be known from the very beginning. The work is going on till the moment when stakeholders approve the results.

    Key Advantages and Disadvantages of the Agile Methodology

    In this article, we mainly concentrate on the strong sides of this methodology. But we’d like to be as objective as possible. That’s why we need to pay attention to both benefits and pitfalls of this approach.

    Advantages of AgileDisadvantages of Agile
    Value of the delivered solutions
    Thanks to continuous communication and
    regular feedback, developers can be sure they
    are moving in the right direction and that their
    software will bring the highest value to end-users.
    Difficulties in predicting the exact number of iterations required for delivering a final product
    As a result, knowing the same timeframes and budget from the beginning is impossible.
    Immediate feedback
    That’s one of the main benefits of this methodology.
    The team will get feedback after each iteration. It means that they can not only timely introduce changes in the results of this iteration but also make sure that they will consider all the updates for delivering the following features.
    The necessity to find time for communication
    Continuous interaction between developers and clients is considered a benefit. It can be challenging to manage time so that everyone will be satisfied.
    High adaptability to changing conditions
    Introducing changes based on clients’ feedback or
    any external factors is not a problem. This approach guarantees that users will get a solution fully
    tailored to their needs.
    Measuring progress can be challenging
    There isn’t any strict plan for the project realization, so evaluating the current project state can be difficult.
    Fast detection of any issue
    Agile methodology allows developers to find and
    fix bugs much faster than any other approach.
    Time restrictions
    Sometimes standard iterations need to be longer for discussing and delivering complex features.
    Idea testing
    With this approach, you can test and reject
    and modify different ideas.
    Lack of documentation
    The necessity to prepare detailed documentation tends to be sidetracked, which makes it challenging for newcomers to get involved in the project quickly.

    As you can see, despite essential advantages, this methodology can’t be viewed as a universal option. There are some limitations; consequently, you need to understand in what cases Agile will be a suitable variant. And you also need this knowledge to conclude situations when avoiding them will be more sensible.

    Agile is the best option when:

    • You do not understand the entire scope of work and can’t estimate the time required for your project realization (and it’s not a problem for you).
    • You do not have a strict budget, and some flexibility is possible.
    • You can’t define a precise set of requirements at the beginning of the development process and believe that the conditions can change after the start of work.
    • It is possible to organize direct interaction between a product owner and developers.
    • It won’t be challenging to provide regular feedback.
    • Your business model allows you to make decisions quickly (if your enterprise's bureaucracy level is too high, the decision-making process can be very time-consuming. As a result, you won’t be able to leverage the benefits of Agile methodology in software development life cycle).

    But what are the cases when it’s better to choose another project management model?

    • You have stringent requirements and are sure they won’t change.
    • You (or your clients) want to have neat tech documentation at any step of the development process.
    • Your team is not accustomed to Agile processes (yes, if your developers have never worked following Agile principles, a severe software development process may not be the best time for practicing).
    • Your management doesn’t allow much flexibility, and making decisions can take too long.
    • You have a minimal budget and are not ready for unpredictable situations.
    • You need to set precise time frames for your project's realization from the beginning.

    How to Use Agile Methodology in Practice

    Though it is vital to understand the theoretical basis of this methodology, more is needed. It is also required to know how to implement it in real projects. 

    Step 1. Choose the right framework

    Different Agile software development methodologies like Kanban, Scrum, and Extreme programming exist. They share common principles. However, they have some peculiarities. What is Scrum methodology in Agile software development? And what makes Extreme programming different from others? You can find answers to these questions in this article.

    how agile methodology works in software development - different frameworks

    When you are analyzing the peculiarities of different Agile methodologies, you should consider such parameters as the team size, the expertise of your team with other Agile frameworks, your requirements for your project, budget, and time frames.

    Step 2. Create your Agile team 

    It is essential to ensure that you have a team ready to follow all the principles of Agile and that this model is comfortable for everyone. All members of such a team should clearly understand their role and the value of collaboration for joint success. If you are establishing cooperation with a software development company like Geomotiv, you must discuss whether the company uses this methodology in its work (we do!). 

    But if you are going to organize the work of your Agile team, we have a couple of practical tips for you. 

    What are the critical values of an Agile team?

    • Self-organization. Let all team members take the initiative, make suggestions, and organize themselves to achieve the best results.
    • Cross-functional cooperation. It is necessary to make it possible for specialists from different departments to interact easily with each other to reach common goals.
    • Iteration planning. Agile project management is based on iterations, and your team should always be well-informed about each sprint's scope and goals.

    Step 3. Elaborate on your project plan

    When you have already chosen the Agile framework and organized your team, it is required to proceed to the stage of planning, which is highly important in Agile methodology. You should clearly define the scope and goals of your project and break down the whole work in iterations.

    It will also be helpful to create a product backlog, a prioritized list of tasks for your team. Thanks to it, all team members will see the exact work they should focus on.

    Step 4. Analyze the expectations of key stakeholders

    It is essential to determine what level of involvement will be required from each key stakeholder and what they expect to know about the project's progress. Some will need to stay updated with all the details, while others will prefer to get only the most crucial information regularly.

    We recommend you create so-called feedback loops that will help you cope with any uncertainty and stay flexible regarding any changes.

    how agile methodology works in software development - the step of customer feedback loop

    Step 5. Measure project progress

    As a rule, when it comes to Agile, the core measurement of success is the development of new features. As the entire process is very flexible, it is challenging to take time as a measurement. But working parts of the software or new tools can be seen as proof of success.

    Agile has different methods for tracking progress, such as daily meetings, reflection sessions, or sprint reviews. You can also offer your team to rely on KPIs if the specificity of your project allows you to introduce them based on some milestones.

    Conclusion

    Agile is a highly flexible approach to managing projects that allows developers to deliver precious and relevant solutions that will reflect the ongoing business conditions and market needs.

    Agile is an absolutely “change-friendly” methodology that helps companies to react to the constantly evolving requirements of the business world and to do it seamlessly and smoothly. But of course, it is vital to remember that it is not a universal model, and it has limitations. That’s why to leverage its benefits fully. You need to ensure it is an appropriate option in your situation.

    If you are looking for a reliable Agile offshore software development company with rich expertise in different business domains, our team can become your excellent partner. And even if you haven’t decided whether Agile methodology is required for your project, you can always contact us. Our experts will analyze the peculiarities of your project and your business processes and help you make the right decision.

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