What is Agile Software Development?

The term Agile refers to the ability to develop and react to change. It is a technique of dealing with and succeeding in unexpected and unfavorable circumstances. Agile methodologies allow businesses to survive and thrive in times of disruptions—which are commonplace in the tech industry.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the importance of agile methodologies in the software development cycle.

Agile Software Development

Agile software development is a comprehensive term used for practices and frameworks based on iterative development where demands and their solutions are obtained by merging self-organizing cross-functional teams.  

The creators of the Agile methodology chose to use the term as it stands for adaptability and effective responsiveness to changes—attributes that form the crux of the Agile approach.

Agile is different from other software development methodologies as it concentrates on the people involved in a work activity and how they perform. 

Using Agile principles, any cross-functional team can determine how to approach a particular problem utilizing appropriate practices. Although the teams can self-organize, managers need to ensure the team has the right set of skills required to perform the work. 

They need to provide a conducive environment that boosts the team’s success. Managers, however, do not interfere with the team’s style of work unless they are unable to solve an issue.

 Organizations engaging in Agile development focus on efficient practices that ensure effective collaboration and work sequencing. This is the best aspect of Agile. 

There are a set of technical practices in agile development that helps in developing powerful software that assists the team in dealing with uncertainties.

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Agile Development Methodologies

Agile methodologies refer to the approaches in product development that are in tune with the principles and values mentioned in the Agile Manifesto for Software Development. 

The main aim of the Agile methodologies is to deliver the right product along with increasing portions of functionalities with the help of self-organizing cross-functional teams that enables client feedback and error resolving as and when required. 

In doing so, Agile mitigates the challenges faced by the conventional waterfall technique of delivering huge products that take a long period during which the clients’ requirements may change, resulting in the delivery of incorrect products. 

The main concept of Agile is to be quick in responding to the demands of clients and the market and also deviate from the plan if the situation demands.

Key Agile Methodologies

Agile is a broad term given to a set of methods and practices. The key Agile methodologies include:

  • Scrum: It is a simple framework created by Ken Schwaber, and Jeff Sutherland used to work on complex projects. In Scrum, the projects are broken down into cycles, known as sprints. Sprints denote a timeline within which some features should be developed. A set of Sprints merge to create a Release, a stage in which final software or product delivery is made. 
  • Extreme Programming (XP): XP primarily focuses on the technical aspects of the project. It is very particular about how the teams work, as the main task of XP is to help the teams deliver high-quality codes at a sustainable pace. In short, XP takes good practices to an extreme. For instance, XP insists on testing even before the production codes are developed. 
  • Adaptive Software Development (ASP): Developed by Jim Highsmith and Sam Bayer, ASP follows the principle of continuous adaptation, adapting to change without resistance. There are three dynamic cycles in ASP:
    • Speculate
    • Collaborate
    • Learn

The cycles are all about continuous learning and powerful collaboration between the developers and the clients to address the consistent change in the business world.

  • Feature Driven Development (FDD): FDD mainly works for huge teams with many people. Developed by Jeff De Luca and Peter Coad, FDD focuses on short iterations that facilitate sustainable product deliveries quickly ( 2 Weeks). Feature Driven Development deals with communication issues or projects in which communication is a huge challenge. 
  • Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM): It was developed by a group of professionals excelling in Software development. DSDM focuses on projects that are pulled back by tight deadlines and budgets. The main aim of DSDM is the frequent delivery of products with increasing development.
  • Kanban: Kanban was developed by David Anderson as a response to some challenges faced by the other Agile methodologies, particularly Scrum. These methodologies become ineffective as they face the same challenges that threaten the traditional waterfall approach. The two to three-week Sprint cycle of Scrum became too long for clients due to the strain it caused on the project management and planning. 

The Kanban method came as a solution to this issue as it is a non-interrupted method that helps the team deliver continuously as against in installments of 2-3 weeks. This considerably reduced the delivery time and improved the feedback from the clients. The main aim of kanban is to locate the bottlenecks in the process and resolve them to enable a smooth flow of work faster.

  • Behavior Driven Development (BDD): As the name suggests, it is a behavior-driven agile technology. Created by Dan North, BDD aims at bringing non-technical people together to create a system’s technical functionalities. BDD uses the concepts of Universal language that enable people with/without technical knowledge to communicate among themselves. BDD works on the principle of writing requirements and approval criteria for the system behavior. It shows what a functionality needs to become functional, what it will do after getting started, and the results after getting executed. 

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Story Points in Agile

Story points in Agile are a parameter used in Agile product development/ management to forecast the difficulty in implementing a user story.

Story points in agile are abstract numbers that developers use in place of hours. The points need not be accurate as they are relative. A story with a value of 6 will be twice as challenging as a story with a value of 3. The value can even be 1,00,0000 as they are not measured as numbers. The team will get an idea of a story’s relative difficulty. Story points help them determine how difficult a story will be to resolve. 

Why are story points used in Agile?

Story points help both development teams and product owners. Let us look at the various ways they get benefitted:

Development teams

  • The team gets a better picture of what they need to do, making it easier for them to develop an efficient implementation strategy.
  • The teams can complete increments at a quicker pace.
  • They will know what to plan in a Sprint which enables them to work comfortably.
  • They can create a considerable estimate without being bound to deadlines. 

Product Owners

  • Story points help the owners better understand a product’s ROI ( Return on investment).
  • They can estimate the technical risks associated with huge items.
  • They will have an efficient forecast of the product’s long-term delivery. 

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What are the four core principles of Agile?

Agile prefers interactions and individuals in place of processes and tools. Effective software over detailed documentation. Collaboration with customers over negotiating contracts Response to change over sticking to a plan.

Why is Agile methodology popular?

The main reason for the popularity of Agile methodologies is many organizations are switching to Agile to develop software. Agile methodologies alleviate the necessity to spend a long time responding to changes. It facilitates a development team to work directly with the clients according to their demands instead of coordinating with other teams. This gives them a clear vision and improves their performance. As Agile is faster and compact, business owners prefer Agile over the Waterfall method.

What is Agile Software?

Agile software is the technology developed to support Agile methodologies. It can also be used by development or other teams to improve efficiency and increments. Agile software aims to provide state-of-the-art solutions and acts as storehouses for future requirements. They empower the leaders to oversee many projects from any corner of the world and immediately give their feedback. This helps the team to make changes as per the clients' requirements.

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