It has long been the case that software development relied on strict client requirements, a strong emphasis on milestones and following plans, and the deployment of a product according to specifications made early on. However, that has been changing in recent times.
The new model, agile software development, has been catching on due to its focus on producing an operational application in a short period of time by optimizing development time. It follows an iterative approach to the delivery of software as it builds software components incrementally over time, rather than trying to deliver it all at once.
Agile Software Development Rests on Four Core Values:
- People over processes and tools
- Working software over thorough documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Adapting to change over following a plan
For the customer, these values show up in many ways. Some of the ways in which they show up include:
Strong Collaboration with Clients
Unlike other methods, agile software development involves an intensive collaboration between developers and their clients. Throughout the development cycle, the client continues to make modifications to their requirements to ensure that their software comes out the way they envisioned.
Minimal Requirement Gathering
Agile software developers only need a basic understanding of the requirements to start on a project. They have the flexibility to gradually introduce more features in the next iteration so an in-depth requirement gathering is not needed. Because they know that the requirements can and will be changed throughout the development cycle, there is no need to get all the details down beforehand.
Flexibility to make Changes at any Stage
Agile software development requirements are not fixed in stone. A client’s competitive edge may depend on changing market forces, so it is important that developers respond to these trends fast. It also means that clients have the flexibility to provide feedback and make their own changes at any stage.
Reduced Dependence on thorough Documentation
An intense dependence on documentation could spell disaster for an agile software development team. Agile development requires quick iterations and simultaneous development of different parts of the project, which requires more time spent on actual development and less time spent generating documentation. This is also the case because the project’s scope may be changed at any point, which eliminates the need for detailed specifications.
Quality Assurance After each Iteration
It is important for the software to be tested after each iteration. This is so that bugs can be identified and the codebase can be properly altered prior to final deployment. Also, it gives the customer’s confidence that the project is headed in the right direction from the start. Further, there is no need to check for bugs or other non-compliant parts at the final stage of the project, which may mean having to start all over again in some cases.
Focus on Business Value
Agile software development focuses on the adoption of incremental changes to build software. It is this incremental nature of the process that allows you to deliver part of the value sooner. In this way, you can decrease the risk of complete failure and allows for more time for quality assurance, while also providing more control over the features being developed. Working software is the primary measurement of progress in this arena.
There are many benefits to adopting the agile methodology from greater quality assurance to a focus on business value instead of completed applications. While conventional methods of developing software have been around for a while, and continue to exist, it is fast becoming apparent that agile software development might just take over the reins entirely.