agile software development

Are you new in Agile software development? Here’s everything you need to know

Shova Acharya
April 1, 2019 - 5 min read

Is waterfall methodology not working for you? Switch to agile software development methodology.

Let’s get started

1. History of agile software development
2. What is agile software development
3. Perks of agile software development
4. Values and Principle of Agile Manifesto
5. Agile Methodology and Practices

History of agile software development

Around the late 1970s, the personal computer was on the rise. As a result, there was a rapid increment of consumer’s demand. Likewise innovation also started to increase rapidly. The competition was so high that every company had to work fast to address the change and meet the demand of the consumer.

However, at that time the linear sequential lifecycle model (also known as the waterfall method) was used for each and every project. It required one stage to be perfectly completed before moving onto the next stage.

Unquestionabbly, software development was a steady process which was highly inflexible in nature. This was a major issue as, by the time they develop software following the present requirement, the requirement of consumer would be changed. And the cost of software development increased due to re-work and redundancies. Or the worst case scenario, the project had to be canceled as the cost was too hard to bear.

So in 2001, 17 software developer gathered at Snowbird, Utah to discuss the problems faced in the software development life cycle (SDLC) and the solution to it; which resulted in the development of Manifesto for Agile Software Development.


What is agile software development

Agile software development is an iterative approach to development where the software is built incrementally from the start.

Moreover it is a philosophy which acts as a crucial mechanism in addressing the inevitable change and its effect on any stage of development.

The whole project is segmented into parts and the empirical process is followed to complete the project, along with iteratively testing, integrating, addressing the change and feedback of users.

Remarkably, it is useful in creating any software which requires to be updated and changed frequently. In addition it can be used for digital transformation projects along with the development of any new application and service too.


Perks of agile software development

perks of agile software development
Perks of agile software development

The agile software development comes with tons of benefit for the company. To point some of the note-worthy benefits, they are:

  1. Automation: First of all in agile any continuous or repetitive work is automated. As a result, there is no human error and you can focus on important work. It helps in automating the development process like:
    • Code Management
    • Automated testing
    • Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)
  2. Quick return on investment (ROI): In agile, the features are delivered incrementally in each sprint. So, you have a working feature after the completion of each sprint. This helps in realizing the benefit early in the project. The return on investment is faster and higher overall.
  3. Low risk of project failure: As said in earlier point you have a working feature from the initial stage of development so the risk of the whole project being a fail is minimum.
  4. Timely testing: Agile software development focuses on unit testing from the very start of the project. This makes sure that everything is functioning properly and the high-quality feature is being developed.
  5. Stakeholders engagement: The agile method requires collaboration from customers and project stakeholders. They should be available to provide input or feature requests. So, that the feature meets their requirement and demand.
  6. Cost reduction: Evidently, agile software development helps in reducing the cost of software development. The shorter delivery time, proper planning, flexible to the change, gathering and addressing the feedback, less re-work, and redundancies, helps in reducing the cost to a great extent.
  7. Motivated Team: In agile, the team is involved in every aspect so they clearly know what they are required to develop. This makes sure they don’t have to re-work and their work is actually generating benefit for the company. Accordingly, the team feels more motivated. Similarly, they are focused toward the achievement of common company’s goal.

Values and Principle of Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto consists of four values and 12 principles. No matter which agile methodology you follow, the four values are applied in some way or another. Hence, the values and principles should be followed and used as a guideline to deliver high-quality software.

  1. 4 values of Agile Manifesto

  1. individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  2. working software over comprehensive documentation;
  3. customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and
  4. responding to change over following a plan.

  1. 12 principles of Agile Manifesto

  1. Satisfy the customers through early and continuous delivery of valuable work
  2. Welcoming the changing requirement at any development stage
  3. Frequently deliver working software at a shorter timescale
  4. Throughout the project, business stakeholders and developers need to interact daily
  5. Motivate the individuals and give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
  6. Face-to-face conversation
  7. Measure the progress by the amount of completed work and working software
  8. The constant pace should be maintained for sustainable development
  9. Technical excellence and good design
  10. Keep is as simple as possible
  11. Focus on the self-organized team as it results in the best architectures, requirements, and designs
  12. Reflect and adjust at regular intervals to become more effective

Agile Methodology and Practices

agile methodology
Person following an agile methodology

In contrast, agile is not a methodology or practices but a philosophy and work style which facilitates in addressing change and faster software development.

For that reason, there is a vast number of frameworks and techniques which are used to achieve this iterative and incremental approach of software development.

Furthermore, the framework you choose will and should address the following 3 C’s of agile teamwork practice:

  1. Communication
  2. Coordination
  3. Collaboration

Depending upon the project requirement you can use any of the frameworks suitable. Below are the two most commonly used frameworks in agile:

  1. Scrum:

Scrum is one of the frameworks used to implement agile; to manage the software development process. It follows a core philosophy of empirical process control.

Basically, in a scrum, planning is done at the beginning of each sprint. The scrum team is self-organizing and there is no assigned team leader. Therefore, they have to themselves decide as a team which part will be done by whom and how the problem will be solved. Following this th daily stand up meeting is done throughout the sprint to determine the actual progress and for collaboration among the scrum master, product owner, and team member.

If you’re wondering what is a sprint in agile software development then let me explain it to you, sprint is a 2 or 3 weeks of a time period where a certain segment of the project or a feature is completed.

At the end of each sprint, the sprint review is done where the demonstration of functionality should be provided to the product owner.

After each sprint, the completed segment is delivered and adjusted according to the client feedback. In brief, the feature should be completely done, meaning, it should be coded, tested and integrated into the current product.

  1. Extreme Programming (XP):

Besides scrum, extreme programming is another framework used to implement agile. It focuses on producing high-quality software and improving the responsiveness to high change in requirement and development environment. The XP follows these 5 values to improve the software project:

  1. Communication: daily face to face interaction among the team members
  2. Simplicity: focus on the requirement only and avoid waste by doing only what is needed or asked for
  3. Feedback: iteration through feedback of the work done to improve the quality and working efficiency
  4. Courage: exact documentation of progress, estimates and the failure (no excuses for the failure is tolerated)
  5. Respect: every team member contributes and should be respected

Along with the values, XP functions on the 12 principles:

  1. Pair programming
  2. The planning game
  3. Simple design
  4. Continuous integration
  5. Small release
  6. Test-driven development
  7. Metaphor
  8. Refactoring
  9. Collective code ownership
  10. 40-hour week (sustainable pace)
  11. Coding Standard
  12. Feedback

Certainly XP defines the appropriate engineering practices for software development. More importantly, it is suitable for projects with frequent requirement changes. However, as it is specific in nature it might not be suitable in a few situations.


Conclusion:

To conclude agile software development is an incremental and iterative lifecycle approach to software development which embraces the change and user’s feedback. Evidently, the project is completed following an empirical process resulting in higher quality feature development.