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By Pavel Kukhnavets

Agile Software Development

Everything you need to know about the Agile software development process.

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If you interview any software development company about its preferred work methodology, there are many chances that you will hear the term “Agile.”

This is hardly a surprise. Agile adoption in the software industry is reaching more and more teams. You will not be wrong in saying that Agile has become a standard for modern software development teams. However, there are people who still doubt what the Agile software development methodology entails. Moreover, we often face a certain amount of confusion around this concept.

In this post, you’ll find the answers to the fundamental questions you might have around Agile software development to be able to get benefits from Agile.

Agile software development

As you hopefully know and remember, Agile is about the ability to create and respond to change.  Agile is the way of dealing with an uncertain and turbulent environment and succeeding in it.

You should be also aware that the authors of the famous Agile Manifesto chose “Agile” as the label for this whole idea. This term represents the adaptiveness and response to change that is critical to this approach. Agile helps to understand what’s going on, identify what uncertainty you are facing, and decide how to adapt to that. If you know this, it’s time to move to the Agile software development definition.

What is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development is one of the most effective and reliable processes to turn a vision for business needs into software solutions. The term “Agile” describes software development approaches that employ continual planning, improvement, learning, evolutionary development, team collaboration, and early delivery. The method encourages flexible responses to change.

In Agile software development, four main values are emphasized:

  • Individual and team interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

How does Agile work in software development?

Many think that Agile is restricted only to software development. This is not true. Agile is a mindset that can be used in any project that requires working together to get better results. It can be applied in any sector, from healthcare or construction to the manufacturing field.

The key reason why the Agile methodology has become so associated with software development is that software development teams adopted this approach without doubt as it’s such a natural fit for working on digital solutions.

Companies that deal with software development companies use Agile in their projects to be focused on incremental delivery, continual planning, collaboration, and learning.

The method can provide amazing results by including multiple feedback instances throughout the development cycle. Your customers are able to see your solution as it grows and provide valuable feedback instead of observing the product for the first time near the end of development.

Agile software development is focused on creating MVPs (minimum viable products) that pass through iterations, each of which provides incremental value.

What are the roots of the Agile software development concept?

Everyone who works according to Agile knows the story of 17 developers who met in Utah in 2001 to discuss these lightweight development methods. They published the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The Agile Manifesto outlines values for developing software in an iterative and flexible manner.

These values are focused on collaboration, self-empowerment, responsiveness, and building software solutions rather than final products. The Manifesto includes 12 principles.

Agile SDLC

Agile software development lifecycle (SDLC) requires collaborative decision-making and development over several short cycles or sprints.

Agile SDLC is based on a cyclical development approach for software in iterations instead of all in one shot. Teams usually work in multiple cycles that last 2-4 weeks. Developers are focused on the essential features at any given moment instead of going “according to plan.”

Agile software development is represented with the help of various methodologies, including:

  • Agile Modeling
  • Kanban
  • Scrum
  • XP – Extreme Programming
  • Scrumban
  • Adaptive Software Development
  • DAD – Disciplined Agile Delivery
  • DSDM – Dynamic Systems Development
  • Feature Driven Development
  • Lean Software Development

Every methodology has its own goal but the main goal for all is to adapt to change and deliver working software. As quickly as possible.

Waterfall SDLC versus Agile SDLC: defining the difference between two approaches

Let’s dive into both models to see the difference between them.

Waterfall

The traditional Waterfall life cycle contains 5 stages:

  • Requirement analysis
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Verification
  • Maintenance

All these stages may last any amount of time. Before reaching the implementation stage, it may take weeks or months. The Waterfall SDLC isn’t designed with speed in mind. This looks quite rationale for complex software projects, where you strive to avoid a brand-destroying fiasco.

However, it is almost impossible to predict all the necessary elements before jumping in. Therefore, your initial requirement analysis often does not include everything you require. Instead, iterations that are characterized by ongoing testing, quality assurance, and communication usually lead to better results.

Agile

The key characteristic of the Agile model is that the development process breaks larger projects down into smaller sprints. Something valuable is produced at the end of each iteration.

Any product solution produced during a sprint should have a chance to be introduced to the world to receive users’ or stakeholders’ feedback. This process should be repeated with every sprint.

Agile is strictly sequenced in comparison with the traditional model. You can not start design until research is complete as well as development can not commence until all designs are approved.

In Agile, business people, developers, and designers work together simultaneously. The Agile development cycle looks like this:

  • Project planning
  • Creating a product roadmap
  • Release planning
  • Sprint planning
  • Daily meetings
  • Sprint Review

Agile vs Waterfall

What does the Agile software development process flow include?

  1. Concept. Your project should be envisioned and thoroughly prioritized.
  2. Inception. You should determine team members, provide funds, and discuss initial environments and requirements.
  3. Iteration (construction). Developers deliver working software based on feedback and iteration requirements.
  4. Release. This stage includes QA testing, training (internal and external), documentation development, and the final release of the iteration.
  5. Production with the ongoing support of the software.
  6. Retirement. This includes end-of-life activities and customer notification.

What does the Agile iteration workflow include?

The Agile SDLC is dominated by the iterative process when every iteration results in the working software and supporting elements. For example, documentation, available for use by customers.

During the software development lifecycle in Agile multiple iterations take place. Each of them follows its own workflow. It is important during every iteration that the business stakeholders and clients provide feedback to guarantee that the features meet their needs.

Here’s how a typical iteration process flow may look like:

  • Requirements. You have to determine them for the iteration based on the product backlog, sprint backlog, feedback of customers and stakeholders.
  • Development and design. They base on the defined requirements.
  • Testing. It includes QA testing, internal and external training, and documentation development.
  • Delivery. It is time to deliver the working iteration into production.
  • Feedback. here you should accept customer and stakeholder feedback and work it into the requirements of the next iteration.

During the project, the product backlog can be fulfilled with the additional features, and the rest of the process is repeating the steps over and over until all of the product backlog elements have been fulfilled. As a result, you get the process flow rather than a linear process.

Now when you know so much theory, it’s time to learn the specific steps to implement the Agile software development methodology.

Agile PM

Consistent Steps on How to Implement Agile SDLC in 2021

By choosing the Agile SDLC model, you follow a distinct process to foster a smooth design and development transition for your company.

1. Take a decision about the transition as a whole

You should have all the required skills and levers to transmit your team to the Agile SDLC. Consider not just your developers and managers, but also involve key customers and other stakeholders. Remember that one of the core values of the Agile methodology is constant collaboration with your stakeholders.

2. Dive into the values and principles to shift your mindset

Do not hesitate to refer to the Agile Manifesto routinely. Use it during the team meetings to discuss company values and the mindset going forward about projects. Experienced Agile teams meet their project objectives much more often than immature teams.

3. Select a proper Agile framework

Choosing the right Agile model depends on your company’s development teams’ size, goals, needs, and processes. For example:

  • Kanban will suit you in case your team is already used to the boards. Scrumban is also becoming a popular option.
  • Scrum will be great if you want to leverage the key benefits like adaptability and speed at a small scale.

To manage the life cycles of multiple products at scale, you may use a scaling Agile framework, for example – SAFe.

4. Optimize a product backlog

You should work with the PO and stakeholders to build a backlog of potential features and required user stories for your product. As new ideas arise and priorities change, make sure to communicate updates in real-time with everyone involved.

5. Plan sprints

Review all the features, stories, and bugs in your backlog during a set meeting with the PO and all team members. Discuss what should be prioritized in the upcoming project sprint.

6. Run daily meetings

The Daily Stand Up is a basic event for Agile teams whether they use Scrum or other frameworks. This meeting is about focusing on what you did yesterday, what you’ll do today and what roadblocks you face.

7. Test the iteration with the stakeholders

If your stakeholders accept the changes, the sprint was a success. It means you move on to new features and user stories. If not – you will have to tackle their issues in the next sprint.

8. Evaluate your immediate goals and backlog

After you complete a sprint, a kind of inventory of sorts should be run. Define the areas for improvement, and consider how the results of the sprint affect your future backlog priorities. The Agile SDLC is made up of several sprints. So just because this is the last step doesn’t mean you’re done.

Conclusion

Agile software development is a term that is constantly heard in the software development industry. This is a reliable and popular way of managing software development projects.

Rather than a specific software development approach, Agile SDLC is an umbrella term for a range of methodologies and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto.

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Pavel Kukhnavets

Pavel is a Content Marketing Manager at Hygger.io & Welldoneby.com, a project management tool loved both by tech and non-tech people. Pavel writes about the world of Agile project management, covering such topics as popular methodologies, frameworks, techniques, innovative tools, and much more that affect the overall efficiency and productivity of product teams.