Agile Software Development:
The Agile Approach and Its Main Principles

The Definition of The Agile

Agile is a software development methodology that is aimed to improve traditional processes. Agile approach is very flexible, as it allows developers to quickly respond to changing requirements thanks to close cooperation, feedback and iterative development cycles. Agile development processes is an alternative approach that opposes a classical Waterfall method and software development life cycle methodology in general. If you are new to the internet technologies or want to learn more about the different development methods, this article gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the two major approaches to software design and choose, which one suits your project most.

The Role of Scrum in Agile

Scrum is the most popular framework for agile project management that is simple and flexible. Recently there has been a lot of buzz around the efficiency of the agile approach, and almost all development companies have started to advertise that they utilise Scrum  and offer agile development services, even if their approach was not such one at all. Scrum promotes feedback, self-organized development teams and delivery of fully operational product within short periods of time. You should pay attention to these details, when choosing a developer, because developers who practice a traditional approach usually need a lot of time and effort to switch to real Scrum.

Roles and Meetings

There are three specific roles in Scrum: Product owner, Scrum Master, and Team. You can learn about the roles and their responsibilities attending a Scrum training, which has become a popular way of learning the agile development method. Typically, these three roles share the responsibilities of a project manager in the classical approach. The members of the team discuss the project and their achievements at five regular meetings: Product Backlog Refinement (or Grooming), Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up Meeting (or Daily Scrum), the Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective Meeting.

Scrum Trainings

A great number of different organisations offer Scrum training courses, classes and tutorials, but unfortunately, not all of them can boast a high quality and accuracy. To identify whether the source of information about Scrum is trustworthy, you should check whether it has an official Scrum certification. Scrum Alliance was the first organisation that started providing worldwide Scrum trainings and certification.

Scrum for Large Companies

Many companies have proclaimed their transition to the agile technology. However, large and medium organisations are often reluctant to fundamentally change their procedures. Such companies can use the so-called Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) for quick and painless transition. Another more difficult and principled approach for big developers with multiple team is Large Scale Scrum (LeSS).

The Scaled Approach

  • The Teams in the Scaled Agile Framework are organised on the basis of classical Scrum teams.
  • The efforts and the achievements of multiple agile teams are joined together to deliver more valuable software releases.
  • The software is developed with a view of business goals and financial capacity.

The Principles of Scaled Agile

  • Take an economic view
  • Think systematically
  • Provide for variability, leave room for options
  • Develop in iterations within short, integrated learning cycles
  • Achievement is measured through evaluation of working systems
  • Visualize and limit work in process, minimize batch sizes and queue lengths
  • Utilise cadence and cross-domain planning
  • Keep the developers and the designers motivated
  • Decentralize decision-making

The History of Agile Software Development

In 1970, Dr. Winston Royce criticized traditional development strategies in his paper entitled “Managing the Development of Large Software Systems”. He said that waterfall equates software development to a production line conveyor belt, where each piece of the final product is added in sequential phases. The next phase can start only when the previous one has been completed. Dr. Royce argued against this approach in which developers first specify all requirements, then create the architecture and design, then program the application and so on. He said that this method was obsolete because of the lack of cooperation between the separate teams that work on every specific phase.

Waterfall vs Agile

If you compare the two methods of development - waterfall and agile - you will easily see why the second one is much more efficient and optimised for one kind of projects, and can be irrelevant for others. The main problem of the Waterfall approach is that it demands that every requirement is identified before the development starts. In other words, the developers and designers should know every feature and detail of the future program before they proceed to actual design and coding. On the other hand, it would be much more convenient if the client could provide their feedback and decide about the functionality after they have tried out a functional program. It is not rare that the design agencies that stick to the waterfall approach realize that the software they have built according to the requirement specified a year ago is completely out of date, because business environment has changed over that time. And as a positive example, when everything is agreed and the software requirements are clear and concrete, the Waterfall is all you need for this project.

The Opportunities of Agile method

Agile programming approach allows the developers to adjust the direction of the project during the development and introduce changes to the software even at the final stages. This is possible through regular iterations or sprints - periods of works after which the team delivers a fully functional product or potentially shippable product increment. Agile software development is often described as incremental or iterative because each short work cycle results in an increment.

The Drawbacks of Waterfall

On the contrary, in the Waterfall development, teams can deliver a final shippable product only once, therefore, there is no room for mistake and no chance to introduce any changes. In the agile software methodology, every aspect - specifications, features, designs - is repeatedly reviewed throughout the lifecycle. When you regularly reevaluate the project, you can easily find ways to optimise it and keep in line with the latest trends.

High Quality Products Within The Shortest Timeframes

The agile methodology, thanks to its inspect and adapt approach, enables to get the product to the market fast and minimises the cost of development. You can forget about such problem as analysis paralysis, because it simply cannot happen in the agile method of software development, where the requirements are gathered alongside the creation process. As the work cycles typically do not last longer than two weeks, the client is able to change their demands and calibrate the requirements for success in the ever-changing circumstances. Agile development offers the following benefits:

  • High quality products. In general, the agile system development is a continuous form of review and revision. Due to teamwork and short work cycles, it is more likely that any error or defect will be timely detected and corrected.
  • Skill and knowledge sharing. When the specialists work closely together, they have an ability to relate to and interact with one another, therefore, they share learn from one another and share their experience, boosting efficiency and improving productivity.
  • Documentation is no longer obligatory. There is less need for documentation die to improved quality of products and knowledge sharing.
  • More actual work is done. Statistics shows, that when developers work in agile groups or pairs, they are exhausted after 5 or 6 hours of programming, because they do actual hard work.

Why Use Agile?

Agile development allows developers firms to design the most effective solutions within the shortest possible time. The agile approach guarantees you that the final product will stand out among the competition due to the repetitive revisions and continuous optimisation of the software. Developers who utilise the agile software development methodology work hard to polish the software after each iteration, producing perfect results that add value and gain recognition.

Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto says:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The Principles of Agile

There are twelve basic principle that lay the foundation of the agile approach to software development:

  • The main objective is client satisfaction achieved through fast and continuous delivery of efficient software.
  • Software requirements can be changed even late in development. Agile software methodology harnesses change to make the client stand out among the competitors.
  • Functional software is delivered regularly within weeks or months with the aim to build the product as fast as possible.
  • The client and the development team cooperate closely throughout the development process.
  • Projects are created around motivated people. You give them the environment and support they need, and they develop a quality software for you.
  • The most efficient way of developer / client communication is face-to-face conversation.
  • Functional software is the principal measure of progress.
  • THe development process should be sustainable. The client, the developers and the users should always maintain a constant pace.
  • Developers should strive for technical perfection and appealing designs.
  • The simpler, the better.
  • Self-organised teams produce the best architecture, requirements and design.
  • At regular periods of time the team analyses how to be more effective and brings the found solutions to life.

How True Agile Differs from Fake Agile?

A truly agile team selects and implements the management and development practices that best work for them. Adoption of this methodology can be a hard process, during which you will likely hear a lot of excuses about why it will never work out. But the results you will get if the transition is successful are extremely valuable and motivating. As for those who search for reasons why it is doomed to fail, they rill either end up returning to the traditional methodology, or practice a so-called fake agile.

The Developers Who Never Stop Improving

We at Magora believe that a good developer never fixates on a single methodology and continuously explores the new horizons and finds the approaches that best suit each individual project. There is no such thing as an ultimate development method, that is why you have to determine the method  you will use every time you start a new project. And that is exactly what agile development methodologies promote. It is a philosophy based on continuous improvement. On the other hand, if you have a clear view of your future application, its features and requirements and do not want to depart from your plan - waterfall is exactly what you need.  So if you want to work with ambitious, creative and talented developers who never stop learning and improving and always strive for flawless results, contact us - our design comapny will be glad to hear you at any time.

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