What Is Agile Software Development and Why Do We Use It?

Software development follows certain methodologies that make the process more efficient and lead to better results, presuming all parameters are set up correctly. One of the best methodologies available to developers is agile development.

How Did Agile Development Come to Be?

The agile development method was preceded by the “waterfall model” consisting of fixed sequence of work steps. Over time, however, this model began to face many problems related to changes in the development process and its structure. This 2001 manifesto therefore defined a new methodology, allowing more dynamic reactions to changing demands during the development process.

The basic principle of agile development is a close cooperation between the development team and the client. This methodology is defined by several characteristic approaches. The most frequently used methodology is Scrum (other methodologies are for example XP, FDD, Lean development, TDD, Crystal methodologies etc.). Scrum divides the software development process into several stages called spurts – these can take from one to four weeks.

The so-called “stand-ups” form an essential part of this method. These are short meetings where members of the development team give reports on their activities and a summary of the tasks finished on the previous day. Members also talk about next action and what other problems they encountered.

What Are Spurts?

The so-called “zero spurt” is the stage where a comprehensive analysis of the whole project is done. Individual functionalities, screens and activities are grouped into separate blocks. These blocks are then uploaded into the “product backlog”.

The total number of spurts depends on the scope of the project. In each spurt, a defined software component (functionality) is developed, to which some of the activities stored in the backlog are linked. The goal of each spurt is to finish the relevant part of the functionality and present it to the client in the amendments phase. The client can suggest changes and modifications or accept the part of the project as completed.

Possible changes and modifications can be integrated already within the very next spurt. This reduces the impact of these changes on the entire system as opposed to the waterfall method. If the spurt is approved, the team proceeds to the next spurt and carries on the development. These steps are repeated until the system is finished and deployed.

Agile Development Relies on a Mutually Active Approach

Agile development requires a close cooperation between the client and the development team. Unfortunately, not every client has enough time for discussions, reviews, comments and other activities that need to be dealt with during the development process. That’s why it’s crucial to agree on the form of cooperation even before the start of the project. Both parties have to be in full agreement on this. In the best-case scenario, the client should entrust some of their employees with the project management and communication with the IT company, and provide enough time for them to coordinate this with their other duties.

In case of need, the good old waterfall method can still be used today. It always depends on the client’s situation and disposition. Agile development is an effective and highly useful method. Nevertheless, it requires adhering to the defined methodology from the very beginning so that both developers and the client can benefit from it as much as possible. Correct understanding of the method and an appropriate form of cooperation are therefore crucial. We’ve already written an article about this that may be of interest to you.

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