Agile software development
Taking advantage of agile methodologies, you can expect even 37% faster time to market and a significant reduction of project risk.
Agile is a management methodology and set of practices used in software development (but not only) that allow your team to respond to change instantly. The Agile Manifesto was formulated two decades ago but it hasn’t lost its relevance, not in the least. It focuses primarily on the team – both developers and business owners – and the way they work together to achieve the best results. Although agile was initially used in the software development domain, nowadays it is eagerly adopted also in other industries. Agile teams are on average 37% faster delivering software to market and 16% more productive. The methodology allows you to develop software quickly and transparently – and is beneficial to all parties involved, among others product owner(s), customers, developers, and vendors.
Unlike waterfall, agile reflects the deep understanding that changes in the development process are unavoidable. Even more, they are an important part of the job of making your software better, and thus welcome.
One of the core values stated in the Agile Manifesto is working software over comprehensive documentation. It means no more than delivering an effective solution to the customers’ problem is of the greatest importance. An agile team constantly focuses on delivering value, which is the working software and its most important features, rather than on creating meticulous documentation and perfecting every tiniest detail. What matters is well-developed technical aspects and good design. The only yardstick of product success is working features.
When we think of software, we associate it with computers, algorithms, and machines. But in the end, most of them will be used by humans – and are built by humans. At least it is so nowadays. In agile, interactions between humans are valued more than just rigid processes or predefined arrangements to stick with. Collaboration – among team members, with business owners, and finally with customers – allows to deliver a working solution faster and the result is just more accurate. Agile teams should be self-organizing, which means that developers divide work among themselves and thus feel responsible for the tasks.
Agile software development isn’t a free-for-all but is based on battle-tested techniques and practices. Daily standups let everyone know what has been achieved, what will be done that day, and if there were any problems – and how they could be solved. Retrospectives (retros) taking place at the end of each iteration help to reflect on what has happened, what worked well, and what could be improved. Sprint planning is the meeting when the team defines what can be delivered within the upcoming sprint – and how exactly it will be achieved. Sprints end with sprint reviews.
Yet another principle of agile software development is simplicity. Simplicity meaning that the team builds the most basic solution that will meet a particular requirement, minimizing the amount of work done. It requires a deep understanding of customer needs and the product itself and focusing on the why (need) instead of how (specification). This way the team has to negotiate how to solve the problem and the simpler the method is chosen – there is less space for errors as well.
Harnessing the change
The requirements often evolve during the project duration – as a result of customer feedback or market changes. Traditional methods like waterfall assume following the plan, sometimes at all costs, not taking into account the natural need for change. There, each time the need for change takes place, the contract needs to be negotiated over again. But not in agile. Agile assumes close collaboration between the team and product owner to achieve the best results, which means enthusiastically and regularly responding to changing needs and priorities – even at an advanced stage of the project.
Agile methods are known for project risk reduction and greater predictability. Iterative delivery means delivering working bits of software often and early in the life cycle of the product, helping to create ROI as early as possible. Also, it allows for reacting to market changes, which also reduces the risk of developing costly features that simply won't be used (thanks to early feedback). The method of working in sprints grants greater controllability of the way software is developed – after each iteration you should have a new working feature delivered.
According to the 14th State of Agile Report, 71% of agile adopters are convinced it accelerates software delivery and it is the main reason for utilizing this methodology. The view is supported by other sources, some of them prove that it grants even 37% faster time to market (more here). To shorten the delivery time is often a number one priority – as is the case of MVP building it lets you gather first users early, perfect your software to satisfy your end-users, and last but not least earn your first money.
Agile software development constantly examines whether the project helps the business, what is its business value, and if it is aligned with the overall goals. The way sprints work and the business owners' take an active part and contribute, helps all players to maintain knowledge on the organization's goals. We can respond quickly to changes in the marketplace so the product is aligned with customer needs.
Our agile software development process consists of three stages that are repeated over and over again until we reach the final destination.
We construct a long-term roadmap that indicates the direction of work for the next few months. It is well-documented and available to all members of the team.
Each sprint takes around 2 weeks and delivers a small but fully functional feature.
Summing up what has been achieved and what problems were faced helps to improve the cooperation from sprint to sprint. It is also the time to verify the pace of work with long-term business goals.