Agile software development is one of the methods used to create new software. You might be familiar with this term if you are in the IT industry. While commoners whose work is not concerned about the IT sector won’t even have any idea about agile software development. It is a non-traditional way of software development that is trending these days. To know about agile software development one has to have some basic knowledge about the process of developing software.
Traditional software development
When people think of software development most of them are only aware of the traditional method of development. This model of development is called the waterfall model. The waterfall model consists of a sequence of operations or phases that are to be performed in a defined manner to achieve the end result. The different steps involved in this model are requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance. It is for creating high-level software with a set of predetermined goals to achieve.
The client is only involved before the start of the project and after the completion to evaluate the end product. At no point during the development process, the client is involved with the development team.
Agile software development
Agile software development is completely different from the traditional approach to developing software. This method of developing software requires the involvement of all the people who are associated with the project including the client and users. Agile software development needs a lot of self-organization. An expert cross-functional team has to work constantly to create a product that the client wants. This technique of software development has to be able to adapt to the client’s requirements. It focuses on continual development and early delivery.
There are four levels for the development of agile software.
Understanding the requirements.
It all starts with a meeting where everyone including the client participates. The development team asks the clients about their vision for the product. The team utilizes use case diagrams to depict the client’s vision in a pictorial format. Once the client gets satisfied with the level of understanding the development team moves to the next part of the project.
Creating product backlog
A product backlog is nothing but a list of essential features that must be present in the end product. The development creates this list based on the instructions of the client. This list defines the order in which the different sections of the product have to be developed, tested and deployed.
Sprints are time durations ranging from one to four weeks during which the development team develops the listed features one by one and delivers it to the client for evaluation.
Repetition of the cycle
Once the clients receive a feature they evaluate it and give feedback if any improvements are needed. The development team incorporates the suggestion and sends the features again along with new features that they have developed. This process continues until the client is satisfied with the end product.
Benefits of agile software development
Transparency during the process of development
Often times the clients are only involved in the initial stages of the software development. Their involvement is only required until the development team grasps the vision of their desired product. After they understand that they engage in the development process. The client only gets to see the end product till that he is completely oblivious of what is happening.
Agile software development gives clients the chance to see the work on a daily basis. The client is as important as anyone working in the development team. The client has to give inputs continuously as the work progresses. The client not only gets the opportunity to give inputs but also gets to see the extent of progress in real-time.
Creating a high-quality product.
Agile software development ensures that a high-quality product is delivered to the client. Normally when some software is developed it cannot be clearly told if it is of high quality. This is because in the traditional method the software functionality can only be known once it is developed fully. Whereas the software developed using agile methods does not have this problem as each section of the product is tested during the development stage.
Each phase undergoes testing continuously to see if all the features are functioning properly. When the development of software reaches its final stages the project management team makes sure that no feature has any bugs or faults. This guarantees that the client receives the product in an optimum condition.
Highly productive development team.
Usually when a software development project is undertaken. The work is divided into different parts based on its specifications. The work has to be shared among different departments depending upon the frameworks that are developed. One department cannot start the work until it receives the assignment from its predecessors.
This is not the case when the development team is practicing agile software methodologies. A team of experts related to various areas of development work together every day to improve the product. The development process is not fixed. The team involved in the development process needs to constantly improvise to meet the demands of their client. The tasks are performed spontaneously as there are new inputs every day. Each of the team members has to adapt their work to suit the requirements of the users.
Predictability of cost and delivery
The software projects developed through agile techniques have predictable costs and delivery date unlike the ones developed using the waterfall method. The projects developed through traditional methods do not have a fixed deadline as they may vary depending upon the complications faced. But the team practicing agile software development delivers the product as sprints. As these sprints are of fixed durations clients can predict the date of delivery. With each sprinting costing a certain sum of money, they can also calculate the total cost by predicting the number of sprints it will take to receive the end product.
High customer satisfaction
The owner of the product or software is always involved in the development. The client gets to see the project develop from start to finish. The client’s inputs are taken every day to improve the product. The client gets to receive the developed features as soon as they are completed. The completed features are tested by the owners to see if any defects are present. If they detect any problems they are solved the next time they receive an updated version. All of these factors contribute to the high satisfaction of a customer.
Early detection of problems
The traditional way of project planning detects the problems before the commencing project. But the reality is that the number of problems and defects is only known after the project is fully developed. By this time the client would have already invested a lot of time and money. Finding a blunder after the delivery is nothing less than a project failure. Agile software development saves you this trouble as the problems are detected in the early stages of development. Continuous testing during development ensures the delivery of an error-free product to the users.
Agile software development takes the vision of the product owner and creates a small portion of the work to make sure it’s headed on the right path. After that, the development process involves constant improvements in each segment as they are further developed. The process moves forward on the basis of iterative development along with the increment of features. The software is continuously tested for the entire development cycle. The client’s involvement from start to finish ensures that they get their desired product. While some say it is the best way to create high-quality software others dismiss those claims.