Agile software development is a process that encourages more timely delivery of projects than the waterfall method and increased participation and feedback from stakeholders. A United Kingdom study demonstrated that waterfall-style scope management was the cause of 82 percent of projects that failed, with reasons ranging from the difficulty in dealing with changing requirements to late integration. With these high failure rates, isn't it time to have a look at Agile software development? Let's have a closer look at when you should use the Agile development process and the advantages of implementing Agile methodology.
When to Use Agile
When you know that your clients needs are constantly changing, Agile is a great process to address this. Unlike the waterfall method, projects can be started much quicker with minimal planning. When all the information is not available to start on a feature or product, Agile can be used knowing that requirements can be elicited and further defined down the road. Stakeholders should be available to provide high-level engagement and user testing on a more frequent basis. This collaboration is critical for the successful implementation of Agile development.
Clients can be engaged throughout the life cycle of a project and be involved with prioritizing features, reviewing the product with each release and providing feedback. The client should be made aware from the start that the project is a work in progress, and that can be difficult for some clients to grasp at the first review. Having early and frequent feedback will help to ensure that a product is being delivered that the market truly wants.
Project Plans No Longer Need Maintenance
Gantt charts are a big part of project planning using the waterfall method, and a great deal of time and energy is spent managing a project with this method. Using sprints does away with this need to maintain a project, as requirements and due dates are constantly changing throughout the sprint. Having said that, many organizations and stakeholders don't feel comfortable developing software projects without a project plan. To get around this, a Gantt chart can be created, plotting out each task item in the sprint. When a task doesn't get completed or can be recognized from daily stand-ups that it won't be delivered, it can be moved to later sprints on the Gantt chart.
Having frequent sprints allows the team to focus on collaborative teamwork, resulting in high-quality development and testing. Usability testing can occur with each build, resulting in defects being discovered and fixed in a more timely manner. With the ability to change more quickly, architectural design issues can be recognized and resolved much earlier.
Using the Agile methodology, teams spend more time in frequent communication and daily stand-ups. This results in teams feeling a greater degree of ownership and purpose in the workplace and the satisfaction for the team to see and celebrate their work being released much earlier in the marketplace.
If your organization is considering the Agile methodology, it's important to become familiar with the process and tools if you want a successful implementation. It will take time and effort to adopt this process, and one of the keys to success is buy-in from upper management. Agile may not solve all your IT problems, but with increased collaboration, continual planning and development, you will have a higher probability of delivering high-quality products. Now, isn't that the end goal for any IT software company?