web development

What is Agile Software Development?

20 January 2021

Are you having trouble understanding what agile software development is? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. This is a common question we hear, so we wanted to create an article that explains what is meant by “agile,” and “agile software development.”

The main thing to understand is that agile is a method that incorporates other various practices and methods. It’s a way for software development teams to put out valuable, working products by using workflows, and more to get the job done right.

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile is a practice that is based on “continuous iteration” of developing and testing throughout the lifecycle of a project. In other words, as a project/product is developed, regular development and testing take place at the same time.

The agile methodology is based on the Agile Manifesto, which is a process of identifying issues, and then looking at how to adapt as you move forward. This makes it easier for a team to work on and manage a project by breaking it into small stages or pieces. Each stage or piece requires continuous collaboration, improvement and iteration.

This methodology was developed by 17 people back in 2001. They wrote down the Agile Manifesto of Software Development, which was intent on providing value and improving collaboration with clients. Agile has four main values:

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Responding to change when following a plan
  • Individual and team Interactions over processes and tools

What it all comes down to is that agile is a mindset, which is formed by the values of the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto. These values and principles provide guidance on how to create an dhow to respond to change, while dealing with uncertainty.

12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Here are the 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto:

1). The highest priority is to make the customer happy through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

2). Welcome changing requirements, even late in the development phase. Agile processes use change to give a customer a competitive advantage.

3). Deliver working software frequently, with a preference for a shorter timescale.

4). Businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

5). Build projects around motivated individuals. Provide them with the environment and support needed, and trust t hem to get the job done.

6). The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face.

7). Working software is the primary measure of progress.

8). Agile processes promote sustainable development.

9). The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

10). Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

11). Simplicity is essential.

12). The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective and then tunes/adjusts its behaviour as necessary.

What is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development uses the same agile methodology applied to software development. This is the process of continuous planning, learning and improvement, along with early delivery and team collaboration. It’s a flexible solution.

Most Popular Agile Methods

There are several agile methods that are used in software development.

Scrum: is a method that’s used to manage tasks on a team. In fact, this method is all about empowering the development team. There are three roles in this method, each with their own responsibilities:

  • Scrum master: sets up the team, conducts sprint meetings, and removes problems that keep the project from progressing.
  • Product owner: creates a product backlog, priorities the backlog, and is responsible for delivering functionality for each iteration.
  • Scrum team: manages its work and organises work to complete the sprint cycle.

Lean: developed by Toyota to improve manufacturing, which has the aim of eliminating waste, improving processing and increasing innovation. This is a method that easily applied to software development. This is because development of software also follows a defined process, includes specific conditions for acceptance, and ends in the delivery of a tangible. Lean methodology has three pillars (known as the Pillars of Lean):

  • Continuous improvement
  • Respect for people
  • Lightweight leadership

Kanban: is a popular workflow management method used by lean teams. Kanban uses visualisation and active management to create products based on continuous delivery, without overburdening the development team. This method promotes continuous collaboration, as well as continuous learning and improvement by creating the best possible workflow.

There are three basic principles to this method:

  • Visualise the workflow
  • Limit the amount of WIP (work in progress)
  • Enhance flow

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM): is a method that’s all about strategic delivery aligned with business benefits with the goal of providing the best ROI. This method puts emphasis on schedule and quality over functionality. It fixes the cost, quality and time in the beginning, and uses the MoSCoW method of prioritisation, which has four requirements:

  • Must have (M)
  • Should have (S)
  • Could have (C)
  • Won’t have (W)
  • The eight principles for DSDM include:
  • Focus on the business need
  • Deliver on time
  • Collaborate
  • Never compromise quality
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations
  • Develop iteratively
  • Communicate continuously and clearly
  • Demonstrate control

Extreme programming: this is a more disciplined method for delivering high-quality software quickly and continuously. XP’s goal is to improve software quality and responsiveness as the customer requirements change. This method also works to involve the customer, include rapid feedback loops, use continuous testing & planning, as well as encouraging teamwork to deliver working software at frequent intervals, which is generally every 1-3 weeks.

XP has twelve supporting practices:

  • Planning game
  • Small releases
  • Customer acceptance tests
  • Simple design
  • Pair programming
  • Test-drive development
  • Refactoring
  • Continuous integration
  • Collective code ownership
  • Coding standards
  • Metaphor
  • Sustainable pace

Feature Driven Development (FDD): is a method that uses an iterative and incremental software development process. The main goal is to deliver tangible, working software continuously in a timely manner. This is a method that’s scalable and works for large teams.

This method has five basic activities:

  • Development of an overall model
  • Building of a feature list
  • Planning by feature
  • Designing by feature
  • Building by feature

Crystal: is a method that does not use formal methodologies and yet turns out great results. This method tends to focus on:

  • People
  • Interaction
  • Community
  • Skills
  • Talents
  • Communication

Agile software development is gaining in popularity as a successful way to mange projects. It uses a combination of methods and practices based on the principles of the Agile Manifesto. Projects are successful because agile uses collaboration of team members to work fluidly together using the best agile methods/practices for their situation.

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