Agile Approach to Software Development 101 – the Answer to the Finding of Modern Approach
In comparison to traditional approaches, Agile approach to software development methods help increase project quality significantly in terms of speed, cost, scalability, flexibility and so much more.
Since its first launch in 2001, the Agile approach to software development has quickly gained popularity among project owners in many sectors, IT included. Agile, once a practice for startups to increase collaboration in collocated space has evolved into a sophisticated, flexible, scalable, and popular used set of processes and tools for software development. In 2017, over 70% of companies surveyed reported that they use Agile approaches to some extent, and nearly 90% of international software developers admitted that they moved from the traditional approach to the Agile approach and suggested that Agile projects are approximately 30% more successful than traditional software development projects. Why is that so popular? Do you know how it really works?
It is said that the Agile approach to software development projects helps improve customer experience and implement digital transformations. There is a rich story behind this approach, and its intersections with other advanced technologies such as design thinking, product management, and DevOps. As there are more people seeking guidance on how to align their teams on Agile best practices. Let’s take a look at the Agile approach to software development from team dynamics, advantages, and disadvantages.
1. What is Agile Approach to Software Development?
The Agile process centers around short, time-boxed iterations known as sprints. Each sprint, usually lasting two weeks, results in a working product with a set number of features called “user stories’’. Compared to waterfall projects, each sprint has a significantly smaller number of features which makes the product development and release cycle more manageable. Product development is driven by constantly changing customer demand; thus, companies can no longer afford to allow the process, procedure, and documentation to slow time to market. Causing delays would reduce their competitive edge and lose customers. Agile software development helps solve this problem by combining stakeholder engagement, customer collaboration, and transparency over the process.
Compared to traditional waterfall methods which are more structured with a preset sequence of steps from inception through completion, the Agile approach to software development is less documentation heavy and more customer-centric, which allows room for requirements modifications yet ensures the timeframe of the project. Technically, the development team builds a set number of user stories during a time-boxed cycle and releases workable products rather than process and documentation; thus, new features can rapidly and frequently develop than the waterfall approach.
2. Roles in Agile Approach to Software Development
An ideal Agile team often consists of no more than 12 individuals – the product owner, and the development team with project manager, data engineers, developers, analysts, QA testers, user experience (UX) designers, and other roles depending on the type of software project. At the start of the project, the product owner represents the interests of the stakeholders on the project, and the users for a particular product and documents a vision statement for the scope of problems, opportunities, and values to be addressed. Then, during each sprint, the team members met frequently to discuss progress, formal release, and plan for the next sprint. Let’s look at the detailed roles of each position:
- Users are the center of an Agile approach to software development whose persona determines their needs, behaviors as well as workflows in the project.
- Product owners represent the customers and internal stakeholders and give feedback to create a product vision of what are the challenges, why the solution is needed, what values are being addressed, a strategy for addressing them, and what constraints and acceptance criteria define the solution. The product vision will be broken into a series of user stories answering the above questions.
The software development team should be multidisciplinary and include a diverse group with the skills and backgrounds as they must complete end-to-end functioning applications, integrations, and other deliverables that impact users—not just the technical components. It is up to the project manager to decide how to staff Agile teams and what are specific roles assigned. The following are examples:
- The project manager cooperates with the partner leads on architecture, non-functional and functional acceptance criteria, sequencing, dependencies, and other technology and security considerations. Based on this, the manager estimates stories and plans implementation details with the team.
- Scrum masters who are experts on Agile processes, responsibilities, and tools, will resolve blocks that impede progress, review approaches to improve the Agile team’s velocity, and groom backlogs.
- Project analysts create wireframes, document user stories, and review test results.
3. Advantages of Agile Approach to Software Development
Compared to traditional waterfall methods, these are the basic advantages of the Agile approach to software development:
Reduce the required maintenance tasks to support the existing product to a minimum:
In the traditional approach, these tasks accumulate quickly due to the neglect of the project team to keep pace with the project timeline. But in the Agile approach, maintenance tasks are resolved during the product backlog of each sprint planning session through defect fixings along with new feature development.
Easier and more flexible to changes:
The project team embraces and adapts to customers’ changes. Working in a time-boxed life cycle minimizes the wait on a lengthy requirement change, review, and approval process. Any change or maintenance tasks are added to the backlog and allotted to an upcoming sprint depending on priority and business needs.
More alignment, engagement, and transparency:
The Agile process highly requires collaboration and involvement of the entire team to review, validate, and agree on which user stories to assign to the sprint, which tasks must be accomplished in each phase as well as daily updates on the progress and verification of each feature. Furthermore, the product owner is engaged throughout the process giving them a sense of ownership that encourages further engagement.
Thanks to the practice of daily feedback and immediate action to resolve the issue. Compared to the traditional waterfall approach which leaves product testing and releases to the end of the project resulting in a level of uncertainty that the product might not meet the customers’ needs, the Agile team develops a product in sprints, allows teams to quickly determine if they are on track and allows them to adjust almost immediately. In addition to that, as each sprint is customer-focused, the development team can be certain that they are producing value at every phase.
Product because the team focuses on developing and finning a smaller subset of features in each sprint before releasing. Compared to waterfall methodology, project phases may be so full of features that developers must rush to complete them and little time is left for testing which can negatively impact the quality of the product. Furthermore, the Agile approach to software development focuses on continuous integration of the work of all developers to a repository several times a day to test issues daily and address them instantly.
Ensure on-time delivery:
As the Agile iterations happen in time-boxed sprints that result in a working product at each release so they can easily manage the timeframe of the deployment while the waterfall methodology is lengthy and involve plenty of features at once; thus, the development team is unable to predict a release date accurately.
Customer-oriented projects led to greater customer satisfaction:
The philosophy of the Agile approach to software development is about delivering what is most important to the customer. Throughout the project, the project team is constantly updated with the changes in customers’ behaviors, and requirements from which develop an understanding of what is needed in the final products. This practice fosters a level of understanding that ensures customers’ needs are being met. Furthermore, a working product to be released at the end of each sprint will please customers on the expected time of delivery and quality of the final product
Better project control:
This is because the team knows what is going on in each sprint and what else is needed to deliver the final products. This decreases surprises or unplanned features making it into the build.
4. Final Thoughts
Newwave Solutions recommend you start Agile practices with well-defined business objectives, a set of optimal tools, and most importantly a team of experts. The biggest challenge to project owners is to ensure the right balance of diverse teams, project principles, objectives, tools, and integrations that enable their organizations to build, extend, scale, and maintain technology capabilities.
If you need an extra hand, contact Newwave Solutions today to learn how we can help you in your software development process. With a highly expert team of an average of 10 years of experience, we are confident that we can help you achieve your project and business objectives. Contact us today!
I am To Quang Duy, CEO of Newwave Solutions. I have over ten years of expertise providing software solutions and consulting services to significant enterprises in Vietnam and Japan, in the fields of real estate, healthcare, insurance, education, and others. The expertise I provide will be of great use to your company's growth.