If, as a business entrepreneur, you ordered or plan to ask for professional software development assistance for your project, you should have heard about an innovative method of software development called Agile. But do you know what it is? Let’s look into this question more thoroughly and figure out when it is worth using!
What is Agile?
Agile is a pioneering approach to software development. The main idea of that methodology is to iteratively work on a problem. In other words, we should not set a goal to make our software or application perfect from the beginning but to divide the problem into iterations. From the first iteration, we can have our MVP (minimum valuable product) ready, so we can use it to solve some critical tasks and use the subsequent iterations to improve the MVP, add new features, polish the tools, and gain more functionality on the go. We can repeat these iterations until we decide that our software solution is completely finished or, if we want, endlessly. However, we can present the product or bring it to the market after each iteration, even the first one. At this stage, the MVP can be used for a quick market test to check your business idea without huge investments. That helps us to track and estimate its usefulness, collect the feedback, and set the directions for its improvement.
Agile has been loved by many development teams and widely implemented within the last few decades. Let’s see the pros and contras of its implementation below.
Why is it so convenient to use?
We live in an everchanging environment. Our market environment and clients’ needs are difficult to forecast for a long-time run. Even if we plan our product development for years ahead, we need to correct it based on external factors, like government regulations, new technological inventions, and changes in the preferences of our target audience. It is obvious that if a full product requires some considerable time to be thoroughly developed, then by the time we bring it to the market, it will have been out-of-date and the users could be disappointed. Agile helps us to solve this problem in the most sophisticated way as it let to set new priorities and change the software features with each short time interval (sprint).
The fundamental ideas Agile
We should realize that Agile is not the one concrete method, but it is a family of methods that works according to the proposed scheme.
First of all, our aim is to satisfy the needs of our customers as early as possible. Since the first version of our application or software is ready, it can be delivered to the clients. This ability makes us competitive and our service more likely to be chosen by a broader range of customers. Secondly, requirements change often during the development, and we can easily vary or reprioritize our further work and plans. That makes us flexible to any environmental accidents and rapid market changes. However, we also have to frequently analyze changes in requirements to track any variations and be ready to change our plan dramatically if needed.
Moreover, new software versions are regular, and quick updates show our users the service or application’s work and improvements. By adding new features rapidly, we can see an increase in the users’ satisfaction and brand loyalty.
The other point is that we can get feedback from the users quickly, which motivates the team of developers to answer their needs and provide the required services. To be more effective in Agile, you, as a business partner, should be ready to work face-to-face with the users and with the development team. This work approach leads to a better quality of the product and its faster development, which is one of the key points in Agile methodology. Furthermore, we can see that working capacity and efficiency of the product is the primary measure of our development. Also, we need to keep in mind that we have to seek to minimize the amount of unfinished work with every iteration.
Development, Design, and Implementation in Agile
The fundamental directions that should be paid attention to in Agile are Development, Design, and Implementation. In principle, these are the most important things if we try to develop a good IT product. Since we operate by iterations, we need to realize that all of them should be worked on not separately but simultaneously. Executing all operations and activities simultaneously as requirements are developed provides us with an opportunity to make our work more flexible and agile.
Benefits and drawbacks of using Agile methodology
Of course, as with any other approach, Agile has its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s point out some of them.
Firstly, we will discuss the advantages. As was mentioned earlier, in Agile methodology software development is flexible, and it is easy to adapt to changes in client requirements caused by the environment and any other factors. Moreover, since we suggest updates regularly, we make our customers trust us and encourage them to use the updated product. Also, we can devote the most time to code development and technical improvements of the software and show the best quality product. Last but not least is that the most important in that model is an interaction between people that paid attention even more than to the equipment and tools.
But everything has its disadvantages that should be kept in mind. We should understand that developing the large and complicated software will take a lot of time and effort to initialize the first version. That factor can strongly suppress the philosophy of using the proposed approach in the considered case. Another important note is that we work more on the code in the Agile methodology than on its documentation. That can cause some inconvenience in different cases that should be estimated ahead. Furthermore, the urgency of problem solutions and decisions that often arise in such work needs to set priorities; and set what features will be placed into the MVP and what part of wishes to be moved for further development.
And, finally, the main disadvantage of this approach is that the development process goes like a spiral, without clear architecture, which covers all the nuances. This could lead to some loops and push to rework some of the features, which demands additional investment, and can be a bit more expensive when classical development with the predefined task, which is named Waterfall.
All in all, the Agile methodology is a very flexible and convenient method, which provides us the opportunity to adapt to rapid changes in the market conditions. But also requires the necessity of face-to-face meetings and deep contact between the developers and business teams. On the one hand, it is definitely worth trying to use. On the other hand, it has its own disadvantages. We should understand that is not always appropriate for large, well-defined projects. And sometimes it can increase the cost of the application development. So, we should always carefully estimate all risks and benefits. And, of course, it is worth consulting with IT experts which model will be more appropriate to your business task.