Software development industry is moving at the speed of light. It’s crucial to stay up to date and on top of things. Otherwise any product can go stale very fast. Causing loss of money and time. We’ll try to highlight a few things that can help us prevent that. Agile has been crucial in helping control the unpredictability and volatility of modern software development. Let’s take a brief look at Agile first.
What is Agile?
Agile is a methodology used to develop software in an incremental and iterative manner. As the word agile suggests, the ability to change the direction and speed quickly. This agility sits at the core of agile principles. It leverages quick iterations of the design phases, development, reviews and testing. Embracing changes rather than treating them as a hindrance in getting the work done, as is the case with more traditional software development methodologies, is another key characteristic of Agile methodology. It enables businesses to be in a position to continuously assess, improve and innovate. It does so by breaking down the project into modules and sub-modules which can then be taken on by independent specialized teams.
You can learn more about Agile principles and manifesto here.
- Software development today has become so demanding with constant innovation and technological advancements, that we see new tools and frameworks emerging very frequently. The team needs to be on its toes and it should be able to react smoothly to changes. Adaptability is the key to a viable product.
- Especially for mobile app development, where the mobile hardware and software is ever changing. It just doesn’t make sense to hatch a long plan and then risk seeing it become outdated and irrelevant before you could even start executing it.
- It encourages continuous collaboration between all the stakeholders. Which results in much better requirements gathering.
- Makes it easier for startups to execute a loop of trial, assessment and pivot if necessary.
- Empowers the product designers to experiment with the help of techniques like A/B testing. Drives constant UI and UX improvements with faster turnaround times.
- Helps take on the change requests gracefully and in a natural way. Working with Agile prepares teams to anticipate change and thrive on it as dreading change increases the risk of ending up with an not viable product.
Planning is guessing, according to DHH and Jason Fried at Basecamp, a plan is simply a guess. Excessive planning without being able to measure progress with working software in short iterations is a recipe for failure. Going Agile is a perfect way to avoid excessive planning and affording maximum flexibility. Companies and products following Agile prefer planning and executing in short iterations. A two week sprint is the most common, while people at Basecamp like to have a three week sprint. This way, most of the team can focus just on things that they can execute and achieve in a sprint and try to avoid getting distracted beyond the current sprint.
Why is Agile critical to application development?
Faster market reach
Importance of first-mover advantage can’t be stressed enough for startups. Faster time to market is absolutely crucial for startups. Agile comes equipped with all the principles to drive the pace and frequency of deliveries. As we discussed earlier briefly, it achieves a faster and more frequent delivery of working software by breaking down the whole product into smaller modules and sub-modules and then implementing those in small sprints, thus allowing for a quicker time to market for products that can kick start the growth engine earlier rather than later. And also kick off the users feedback loop which is invaluable in determining the direction of the product.
Agile is proven to have much better results than traditional frameworks. It lets us get the product into the market with an MVP and then continuously build on it with each iteration.
Agile offers maximum flexibility and freedom to experiment and innovate. There’s no fixed set of processes for any department. All departments can modify and customize the process that works best for them and that they think maximizes the efficiency and effectiveness.
Resilient from the start
Because the testing is so tightly integrated with the whole development process, we get a resilient and stable product at the end of each sprint or each release.
Better cost handling
Agile methodology gives a certain clarity and insight to make better budgeting decisions. Through better resource planning it can provide huge cost savings.
Identifying and reducing risk
Again, as we’ve already discussed above, the product development landscape is ever changing. Something that looks useful and viable today, may not be the same in just a matter of a few months. Agile helps to identify those risks early and puts you in a position to react and do just enough to stay viable or avoid an unwanted situation.
Utilizing the data and user feedback
In Agile, what drives future decision making, direction and development is the data and the real user feedback, not some wild guesses (which are usually called plans). Having real world data and user-feedback is invaluable for basing future development on. Being able to validate your business and UX assumptions by delivering/releasing quickly and getting feedback from real users is a great recipe for success.
Agile methodology is a great framework for software development with few noticeable variations (which is out of scope for this article). So you can either pick a variation which suits you best or adopt a totally custom version of Agile, tailored to your specific needs. In the end it’s up to the team to take full advantage of Agile. But nonetheless, it’s a very powerful and proven framework/methodology for software development.
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