The entire software development lifecycle is an iterative process that takes software developers through a thorough and rigorous series of development steps in order to create a single piece of software or information system. With a process that ordinarily takes months to years depending on the system’s scale, developers can no longer keep up with following the normal procedures of developing applications when working against consistent change and faced with an intimidatingly short deadline.
That is, until Agile Development came to being. Introduced in the early days of 2001 through the popular Agile Manifesto, this methodology became the solution to many software developer plights in the past whose waterfall methodologies kept falling apart due to changing customer requirements and a continuously-increasing scope on a limited schedule.
Back to basics for faster development
Looking at the process of the Agile Methodology, most developers would find that it is simply a reinterpretation of the then-existing Waterfall model, utilizing almost the same steps save for a few modifications. How does it change the way software is developed, you ask? Here are some ways where it makes a huge difference:
- Adapting to changes in a rapid manner – the classic waterfall model sets everything in stone as each major phase is completed, hence the use of the term milestone in software development. This allows little to no room for improvement or changes, resulting in immutable software at the end of the day. Agile aims to easily incorporate new changes during the development lifecycle of the application, better accommodating client comments and feedback to build a better software overall.
- Better customer-developer relationship and rapport – the Agile Methodology dispenses of the typical initial-and-only requirements gathering session with the customer / client and instead breaks it down in the cyclical iteration of the agile process by continuously getting feedback and discussions between the developers and the clients over a steady stream of e-mails, business phone calls, or prototype presentations. It builds better relations between the developers and the software stakeholders, empowering them to speak out for the benefit of the application’s development.
- Individual developer empowerment – aside from empowering the stakeholders to speak up, the Agile Methodology also empowers the developers themselves to make a difference in the application’s development. As each iteration typically only lasts for weeks, each developer is made important and critical to the success of each iteration, giving him a greater sense of achievement in making it through the development lifecycle.
- Lesser software issues and problems – since the software goes through an iterative stream of verification and validation between the developers and the customers, there is little room for problems and bugs as they are swept and addressed the moment they are presented and verified by the customers. This further enforces the adaptive framework by which the Agile Methodology operates, yielding a much more robust and responsive software at the end of the development.
Consider Agile for your next project
Many software development companies have begun to adopt the Agile Methodology in their projects and have emerged with better and more fruitful results in the applications that they have built. While by no means an easy feat to incorporate in your regular software development lifecycle, it does mitigate most project management nightmares that have haunted the older software development paradigms.
With emphasis on individual developer effort, working software, customer collaboration, and rapid change response, the Agile Methodology sets itself up for creating better applications for our ever-changing digital world.