The term Agile is understood as an approach based on principles that promote frameworks such as Scrum and a unique type of software development “methodology” that is characterized by executing as simply and iteratively as possible to deliver value early. Although we generally refer to Agile as a methodology, it should be noted that Agile is more of a mindset than a methodology. With this factor in mind, it is important to stress the importance of adopting this approach, as its advantages in software development translate into time and cost savings compared to conventional project management methods. Improved quality, increased focus on delivering business value and stakeholder engagement are, among others, some of the benefits that agile practices bring.
But, what exactly is Agile? Why is it important for software development?
Let us find out and see why Agile is vital for any organization.
What is Agile?
Agile is a term that has been used for some time in many areas of work. We use the term Agile to refer to the set of practices and methods based on the values and principles contained in the Agile Manifesto of the 2000s. The Manifesto was developed by a group of fourteen leading figures in the software industry and highlights their experience on what approaches work and don’t work for software development.
The set of these methods is based on iterative development in which requirements and solutions progress through collaboration among self-organizing cross-functional teams.
Agile practices generally encourage a disciplined project management process that fosters frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization, and accountability.
This leads to better engineering practices that enable the rapid delivery of high-quality software and a business approach that closely aligns development with customer needs and company objectives. Agile, therefore, refers to any development process that is in line with the concepts of the Agile Manifesto.
Agile methodologies and frameworks
By definition, Agile methodologies are those procedures that allow adapting the way of working to the project conditions achieving flexibility and immediacy, in the response to adapt the project and its development to the specific circumstances of the environment.
The word methodologies in the context of work and group cohesion are conventions that a team commits to following. The methodology is not the same for each team, as the emphasis is on the methodologies specific to each team. Agile methodologies are the conventions that a team decides to follow in a way that aligns with Agile values and principles.
However, it’s interesting to compare Agile methodologies to Agile frameworks, as they are usually confused. So, what is the difference?
The most commonly used types of agile frameworks in companies today are extreme programming (XP), Scrum, and Kanban. All of them are guided by a pattern established by the Agile Manifesto made by several authors who established the 12 principles of Agile software. What does it have to do with Agile methodologies? Well, Agile methodologies were certainly born out of a single team’s methodology, but they became frameworks when they became generalized for use by other teams. These frameworks help inform where a team starts with its methodology, but they should not be the team’s methodology. The team will always need to adapt its use of a framework to fit properly in its context.
Why is Agile important for software development?
Now that you know what Agile development is and what its methodologies are, it is crucial to know why Agile is important for software development.
Agile methodologies are important because their digital infrastructure and their defined conceptual and technological support structure, serve as the basis for the organization and development of software.
So-called agile methodologies are becoming more and more common in the day-to-day work of development teams. Waterfall project management is based on a series of stages that are executed sequentially: Requirements, Design, Analysis, Development, Testing, and Release, and on a closed budget, which narrows and limits the scope of the project. Agile methodologies break with these concepts and bring benefits to project management and software development.
These are some benefits that Agile brings to the table:
- Facilitate planning since projects are divided into sprints.
Developers are much clearer about the requirements to be delivered for each date (end of the sprint). It is easier for the developer to approach the project in small phases with a determined duration and scope.
- Improve internal communication.
Due to the characteristics of Agile methodologies, the exchange of impressions is more fluid in the work team. Task managers are well defined and there is a continuous transfer of information on the status of the requirements.
- Increase involvement and motivation within the team
Every member of the team is always informed of the status of the project. Involvement and the feeling of importance increase, improving the efficiency of the workers.
Agile reduces costs because it practically eliminates the possibility of absolute failure in the project. In fact, errors are identified throughout the development process instead of waiting until the product is finished and all the investment has been made.
Agile adoption not only increases predictability since Agile projects contain a lot more chances to have fewer errors but also saves you money. After doing a UK study of 1,027 projects, 44% of respondents cited cost savings as a very important or most important reason to adopt agile.
According to a study conducted by Standish Group, we can see how Agile has a higher success rate than a traditional approach such as waterfall.
The table below classifies projects into 3 types and under 2 project approaches: Agile and traditional. It is curious to note that Agile has a lower failure rate, which brings us to the point outlined above, i.e. cost and time savings since by iterating, you can see if you are on the right track or not.
Agile methodologies in software development incorporate different teams along, for instance, the QA team plays a huge role to keep quality consistency, at its highest, and also maintaining a focus on rapid delivery of commercial value in an evolving environment. This allows the customer to extract the benefits of the project incrementally. Agile helps you manage your projects in a more flexible, autonomous, and efficient way, thus increasing your productivity and reducing your costs.
Is your company Agile ready or doing enough? At Applaudo Studios, we work with an agile mindset, let’s partner up and build something together.