Agile – Agile Software Development Methodology
The Agile methodology in development is used frequently. This term was developed back in 1970, but today it is very relevant and in demand. Companies that use Agile principles launch projects much faster and more successfully, understand customer needs and provide a product with a quick time to market. An agile approach opens up a ton of business opportunities, automates workflows, and reduces risk and error.
What is Agile
Agile is a method of organizing a work environment. It appeared in the early 70s of the last century, when an American programmer wrote an article about the inefficiency of the development approach. In those years, the conveyor method was used, which implies that each stage of development should follow the principle of an “assembly line” at the factory.
As a result, the duration of the project was long. But at the same time, there was not much competition in the field of development, so entering the market was not so relevant. However, Winston Royce proposed the “Phase Approach”. It consisted in the fact that at first all the necessary parts of the project are assembled, it turns out not formalized, but already a working product. And only then the interface, shell, design is made, all systems are configured and it comes to the finished product.
This is how the project management methodology appeared for the first time, which allows you to create a working finished product in a short time, and gradually improve it. Many processes run in parallel, specialists communicate with each other, and also maintain constant communication with the customer, and as a result, the result is fast and efficient. Agile is an opportunity to significantly speed up development and avoid many mistakes through the correct project management and work organization methodology.
Key Ideas and Principles of Agile
In 2001, a group of lead developers created the Agile Methodology Manifesto, which includes a number of ideas and principles. Variations of use may be different, but the essence remains the same: the principles of Agile are still relevant and in demand, many companies work on them, including ours. The main principles of Agile are:
- The interaction between people in a team is more important than any technical processes, and software is much more important than documentation. Understanding the client comes first, not negotiating terms or contracts. An agile approach implies full interaction built on mutual understanding.
- The ability to make adjustments to an existing project is much more important than the original approved plan. The Agile system implies regular changes and deviating from the plan if this leads to a better result.
- Agile development of applications and other software should take from several weeks to several months. The faster the better.
- The measure of progress is working software. If it works, this indicates the success of the implementation of the Agile methodology. How well it works is another question, and it is always answered consistently. The main thing is to go from theory to practice.
- Developers and customers must continuously work together until the end of the project. The most important way to convey information is a personal conversation. Agile management is responsible for communicating within the project and making sure everyone knows what needs to be done.
- Choosing one tempo is the best solution. The project management methodology involves choosing the right speed of work so that burnout does not occur, but the work goes as quickly as possible.
- Interaction within the team is one of the main principles of Agile. Employee motivation and freedom of thought are important. Authority expands responsibility and increases significance, and value increases accordingly.
- Edits and changes are made in the course of work, bringing the product to the final result. The ideal is to deliver software as often as possible so that progress can be seen visually and adjustments can be made in a timely manner.
Agile principles do not end there, there are quite a few of them, we have highlighted the main ones. The bottom line is to implement project management techniques and establish a relationship between the business and the product. Agile management is responsible for organizing the entire process, using various tools and services to implement the working environment.
Stages of agile development
Agile approach consists of several stages. This allows you to most correctly distribute the work between specialists and build a clear algorithm of actions.
Research and strategy formation
Before starting an Agile project, it is necessary to understand what strategy will be used. At this stage, you should answer the questions:
- Who is the customer of the product?
- What should the consumer get, what is the use of this?
- How do competitors solve this problem, and how can your product be better?
- What is the plan to enter the market, how long will it take?
It is necessary to analyze competitors, the target audience, to understand the demand for the product. Think about how best to organize the work. All this is done directly with the business owner. After all, only he knows the answers to all questions.
When the idea is formed, it needs to be visualized to show what the product will look like, what features it will have, and how it can be presented to the target audience. Essentially, a working prototype is being created.
Often, a simple schematic sketch is used for a prototype. At this time, the functionality and capabilities of the product become clear. From the same moment, agile begins to work to its fullest – the parallel work of specialists begins. While the developers start making some tools, the designer will prepare the final layout, marketers are considering a strategy for promoting the product. Many specialists are connected at once, and all of them continue to be in constant communication with the customer and move towards the result every day.
Agile development means creating a working tool that has nothing to do with the final result. As the Agile principles say, first you need to show a working product, and do it as soon as possible. Next, refine it. Therefore, the project management methodology includes extreme programming and other ways to quickly implement the project.
This will allow you to immediately avoid a lot of mistakes and revisions, monitor changes in the market and make a product “for the client”. In the world of Agile methodology, it is not customary to make one product for a long time. It may become irrelevant, and simply will not be able to compete. Flexibility is the key to fast and efficient development.
When there are first results of the finished product, the testing phase begins immediately. Agile implies complex work, therefore, performance, UX design, and main functions are checked. During testing, new tasks are identified, improvements are made and the product improves immediately.
Each stage of improvement must pass the test. Seems like it ends up taking way too long. But it is better to test in small parts, immediately identifying adjustments, than to test a full-fledged application at the end, understand that it has problems and spend a lot of time and money on fixing them.
When the product has an interface, the main functions work, testing is carried out regularly, you can immediately launch it into release. This does not mean that a full and final version is being rolled out. As a rule, an MVP is prepared at the release stage according to the Agile methodology.
The minimum viable product is presented to users, and feedback is immediately collected, new tasks are identified. What does it give? The ability to understand what exactly the audience needs, what functions need to be finalized, implemented, improved. Where there are problems, and what can be safely removed. In fact, this is the shortest and most inexpensive way in practice to understand the effectiveness of the product and its relevance.
After the release, specialists continue to actively work on the project and improve it. All data from users is collected, the work of the product on the market is evaluated, its positioning is carried out and maintenance is carried out. Many features are being improved, some are being changed radically.
This Agile approach allows you to make technical changes and improvements to an already working product. As a result, it often begins to generate income or increase capitalization while still under development.
Benefits of Agile Development Methodology
Increased value proposition
Agile approach means working not “from the product”, but “from the client”. Some companies follow the opposite principle: make a product and show that it can be useful. But the Agile methodology is about something else. Here, the needs are immediately studied and an offer for the market is created that has an increased value.
Speed to market
By creating a minimum viable product, the speed to market is simply colossal. What does it give? The ability to immediately test all business hypotheses, determine the demand and understand how the product can be improved. Agile development eliminates the possibility that your competitors will do something faster, or, even worse, that during development, the needs of the market will change and your product will simply not be in demand.
The main advantage of the project management methodology is the ability to change the rules on the fly. It happens that during development it becomes clear that a feature or tool will be unclaimed or simply unjustified. In this case, it is easy to replace them or simply refuse. The market and customer needs can change, and the Agile system allows you to quickly respond and make changes.
You will have to pay a lot if there are errors in the business organization, analytics or approach. An agile approach can significantly reduce risks. Due to step-by-step steps, the ability to make changes and quickly respond to changes, it is easy to test hypotheses, check the business model and choose the best path.
Elimination of technical errors
Due to regular testing, the probability of technical errors is significantly reduced. And if they do arise, the operational technical support of the project allows you to quickly get rid of them. This reduces the cost of maintaining the product, it continues to work actively and generate profits, and the coherence of the team makes it possible to instantly respond to any negative factors.
Important criteria for the organization of work are observed: each participant knows his role and task, is responsible for it, Agile management fully controls all actions, and the customer is directly involved in the project. Orientation to the market and customer needs makes the product successful.
Methods and means of implementation
The Agile system implies the use of additional tools and means of implementation. The most popular are the following methods:
- Scrum . The term comes from “Rugby”, meaning teamwork. It has its own principles by which it works. We need a team, a product owner who knows the goals, and Agile management. A product backlog is compiled, on which tasks are prioritized. “Sprints” are planned – periods of time to complete specific tasks, and “meet-ups” are also held – meetings at which 3 questions are raised each time: what did you do yesterday, what will you do today, what obstacles prevent you from completing the task.
- extreme programming . Extreme Programming is a technique that allows you to cope with constant changes in product development. It is built on 4 processes: coding, testing, change planning, listening. In the last process, developers and customers hold discussions to avoid misunderstandings and ambiguities. The goal is to quickly develop software and quickly improve it.
- Crystal Methodologies . A project management methodology that works on the following principle: code is developed as quickly as possible, a new version is always improved based on the collected data about the previous version, and communication between project managers, clients and developers always takes place in the same room.
- Dynamic Software Development Method . An agile approach in which the end user plays a key role. He is actively involved in the development process. A product version is released, and then changes and additions are made based on the collected data.
- Feature Driven Development . A method that emphasizes forecasting and planning. Key features are pre-modeling, graphing and reporting, analytics.
- Kanban . Reminiscent of the production process on the assembly line, where everything starts with a piece of metal, and ends with a finished part. Here everything looks like this: the tasks at each stage are limited, but the participant can perform several of these tasks at once. Each task is marked according to the degree of completion, and the workflow does not stop. The methodology implies continuous improvement. This approach allows you to save resources, organize work and achieve the desired result.
Where, how and by whom Agile is used
Agile development is used in many areas. The main objective of the method is to organize work in small teams and groups of employees. At the same time, Agile management itself must be democratic and advanced within the framework of management. This system is used in many areas, including:
- IT and digital product development;
- Oil and gas industry;
- government organizations;
- budget organizations;
- telecom companies.
This is only a part of the areas where project management techniques are actively used. In fact, this method can be implemented in any company if simple conditions for its implementation are implemented: management is ready for changes and a new approach to the working system, employees are ready to receive extended powers and be independently responsible for the result, and customers are ready to take an active part and be fully involved. into development.
Now you understand what Agile is, what principles this technique has and how it can be useful in business. Our company actively uses Agile project management to achieve maximum results. This is a great solution for rapid development of digital products.