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What is Agile Software Development? Methodologies & Principles [2023]

The ability to respond to change is what agile defines. When there is an uncertain environment, the successful dealing with it is termed agile. The word agile refers to the process of adaptiveness and response to change. The term agile was coined in the agile manifesto in 2001 to set out principles that guide towards the better development of software

An ideal team size of a specific duration for development was not defined by the Agile manifesto. Rather only core values were placed that put people first.

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In the present age, almost every organization or enterprise is practicing the software development process in agile. Earlier the software development process relied on the waterfall method for the development of the software. The method required the preparation of tons of documents even before the start of any coding.

It was the duty of the business analyst to prepare the document that mentioned every business needs. It was then the role of the technologists to prepare their document mentioning their technical requirements. Finally, after the long documentation process, coding would start. Followed by integration and testing. Therefore, the process took over a couple of years. 

Agile is an iterative process that is used in the development of software for the development of customer effective products.  Instead of working on a big thing altogether, the team works in small increments. The requirement for the development of the product, plan for its development and the result of the process is continuously evaluated. Therefore, this allows responding to the changes quickly.

This process of developing a product welcomes the collaborative effect of the team. Instead of a set of development techniques, agile is a group of methodologies that leads to the continuous improvement of the products through tightening of the feedback cycles.

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Why Agile is Chosen?

With the application of agile customer feedback can be fed and the team members can develop the products at the quickest as per the market change with each associated change, the feedback can be gathered and then integrated into the plans. 

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Agile Software Development

Seventeen technologists in 2001 drafted the Agile manifesto and launched Agile. For the development of better software, four principles were laid down:

  • There should be interactions between individuals over the processes and tools used.
  • Better to have working software than having a document for the software.
  • Customer collaboration should be present.
  • Responding to the changes in the environment is highly prioritized.

Software development in agile revolves around these principles for developing a set of frameworks for the development of software. It focuses on the collaboration between the teams, continuous planning, and learning to create a product of high quality. 

The software development team involves multidisciplinary teams where members from diverse groups having diverse skills to complete the job are present. The end-to-end functioning applications have to be completed for the delivery of working software. Therefore, the team members frequently meet to check what the team members are building and how the software is being developed. 

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The process of software development in agile is always starting through defining the users and then creating a vision statement on what is to be addressed like the scope of problems, opportunities, and values. The product owner works along with the development team capturing the vision and acting towards the delivery of the vision.

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Agile Methodologies

To achieve the goal of the software development team, a certain set of methodologies are created based on the set principles of agile. The agile methodology involves a set of ways that are accepted and followed by the development team. 

With the birth of the agile methodology in 2001, several agile frameworks have emerged like Scrum, Lean, Kanban, and Extreme Programming. Although the frameworks are different it constitutes the core principle of agile development methodology i.e. frequent iteration, continuous learning, and high-quality end-product. The software development teams mostly favor Scrum and Extreme programming (XP). Kanban is the most accepted framework for service-oriented teams like IT or Human Resource.

Different teams of software development create methodologies through the combination of practices from different frameworks Although several methods are incorporated in the agile development methodology; however, the widely used method is the scrum. Although there is the dominance of scrum, other agile frameworks also exist.

  • In Kanban, the development team funnels out user stories from an intake board through a development process until they are completed.
  • The process of agile along with the collaboration is defined in the agile frameworks while the software development tasks with respect to an agile framework constitute the software development process in agile.

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Agile Manifesto Principles

According to the agile methodology, customer satisfaction is the highest priority which is achieved through the continuous and the early delivery of the software.

1. The agile methodology welcomes change in the requirements of the software even if during the late part of the development process.

2. Taking the time of a few weeks to a few months for the software delivery. Although preference is given towards the timescale which is shorter.Throughout the project, collaborative effects between the developers and the business people should exist and they should work together

3. Motivated individuals should be considered for building the projects and should be supplied with the environment, support, and trust they need for getting the job to be completed.

4. Face-to-face conversations are the efficient way for conveying information within the team of developers.

5. The progress of development is primarily measured using working software as a measure.

6. Sustainable development is assured through the application of the agile methodology in software development.

7. Agility is enhanced through the continuous focus on good design and technical excellence.

8. Self-organizing team’s results into the best architecture, design, and requirements.

9. The development team at regular intervals of time reflects on increasing their efficiency and accordingly the behavior is adjusted.

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Scrum

  • Complex adaptive problems can be addressed through the use of scrum.
  • Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber created the framework.
  • Products of high value can be created and delivered through the scrum framework.
  • Mostly it is focused on application development or the management of software products and projects.
  • The team works under collaboration to reach their specified goal within 2-4 weeks. 
  • A small team of seven to nine people consists of the scrum team which includes the product owner and a scrum master. 
  • The work is divided into smaller processes called sprints. These processes work in iterations. A timebox is defined for the sprints within which there should be an achievement of a set of feature development.
  • Multiple sprints are combined to release the product to the customers.
  • The product owner breaks down the overall functionality into features of smaller functions termed as user stories and Epics which get prioritized. Sprints take up the stories in each iteration.
  • The product after being delivered to the customers are analyzed for the customer reviews. This allows product teams to review the working software frequently ensuring that the product is able to meet the business requirements. It further ensures that the requirements of the customer are met by the end-product.
  • Events like the Daily meeting, Review Meeting of the Sprint, Sprint Retrospective meeting, etc. are held which represents the scrum method. The main goal of these events is to enhance collaborations between the team and review the opportunities. This ensures that the progress of the software development is as planned with quick resolving of any issues.

Extreme Programming (XP)

  • Kent Beck in the early 1990s developed this framework of extreme programming, also known as paired programming. The method is designed for the quick and continuous delivery of high-quality products. 
  • For the success of the development of software, the methodology considers the most important role of interpersonal relationships.
  • Another focus of the method is promoting teamwork, creating a good environment for work and caring for an environment where there is learning from the developers.
  • The developers that are working towards the product development work in pairs. While a software program is supervised by a developer, the other one observes and vice versa. All throughout the roles between the developers keeps changing. 
  • One of the benefits of the switching of the role is that they are able to review the code continuously and provide feedback. This in turn helps in developing the quality of the code.
  • Continuous feedback exists between the development team and the client in an extreme programming method. This aims to improve the quality and the responsiveness of the software as per the customer requirements. 
  • The method results in rapid feedback loops in which the feedback is fed as input into the testing. Therefore continuous testing and planning of the software are carried out resulting in the frequent delivery of the product at a short interval, i.e. every one to three weeks.
  • Because of this, the method is especially suitable for projects which require the constant change of environment and where the technical risk is high.
  • The name of extreme programming arose from the fact that elements from traditional software engineering practices that are beneficial are taken to “extreme” levels. With this extremity, continuous review of the code takes place through pair programming.

Other agile development methodologies include; Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Lean, Kanban, and Behavior Driven Development (BDD), and crystal.

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Summary

Agile development has become the trend of the software development industries with its unique way of managing the software development process. Agile software development is a collection of methods that are based on the principles of the agile manifesto. Therefore, the agile development methodology consists of different models.

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Why is Agile so popular?

Since its conception in 2001, Agile has come a long way and is now employed in several types of organisations, from software and FMCG to automobile and manufacturing. It is so popular because it maximises direct team-client interaction, thus improving transparency. It provides a clear outcome with a focused goal that can be approached in tangible, incremental steps. Agile is also quite versatile in the sense that it can be implemented in multiple ways – Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming, and Feature Driven Development, to name a few. It is also a lot faster – in fact, 75% of the organisations that adopted Agile said that they did so mainly because it accelerated software delivery speed.

How is Agile better than the traditional approach to project management?

Unlike the traditional approach, Agile does not follow a linear pattern. This makes it a lot easier for developers to adapt to new requirements or correct past mistakes. On the other hand, the traditional approach leaves no other option but to start from the beginning. This is a waste of time, money, and resources. Agile also offers a greater buffer to respond to feedback and changes, even during advanced stages of the developmental cycle. This maximizes product quality and customer satisfaction. Other benefits Agile offers include modularity, self-organization, and better customer engagement.

How can I become a good Agile developer?

You can become a good Agile developer just by adhering to a few principles. Implement design thinking in your planning right from the start of a project. Maintain accountability by taking responsibility for the quality of your products. Make suggestions to the PO and business analysts to rectify flaws. Try to stay focused, and finish one task before you take up another. Work with your team to reach full completion every single time. Always be open to learning. The assumption that the workplace is highly dynamic in nature, is the very foundation of Agile development. Hence, you should always be ready to collaborate, learn and spread your knowledge.

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