Software Engineering | Agile Software Development
Agile Software Development is a software development methodology that values flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction. It is based on the Agile Manifesto, a set of principles for software development that prioritize individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change.
Agile Software Development is an iterative and incremental approach to software development that emphasizes the importance of delivering a working product quickly and frequently. It involves close collaboration between the development team and the customer to ensure that the product meets their needs and expectations.
The Agile Software Development process typically consists of the following steps:
- Requirements Gathering: The customer’s requirements for the software are gathered and prioritized.
- Planning: The development team creates a plan for delivering the software, including the features that will be delivered in each iteration.
- Development: The development team works to build the software, using frequent and rapid iterations.
- Testing: The software is thoroughly tested to ensure that it meets the customer’s requirements and is of high quality.
- Deployment: The software is deployed and put into use.
- Maintenance: The software is maintained to ensure that it continues to meet the customer’s needs and expectations.
Agile Software Development is widely used by software development teams and is considered to be a flexible and adaptable approach to software development that is well-suited to changing requirements and the fast pace of software development.
Agile is a time-bound, iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver all at once.
Why Agile? Technology in this current era is progressing faster than ever, enforcing global software companies to work in a fast-paced changing environment. Because these businesses are operating in an ever-changing environment, it is impossible to gather a complete and exhaustive set of software requirements. Without these requirements, it becomes practically hard for any conventional software model to work. The conventional software models such as Waterfall Model that depends on completely specifying the requirements, designing, and testing the system are not geared towards rapid software development. As a consequence, a conventional software development model fails to deliver the required product. This is where agile software development comes to the rescue. It was specially designed to curate the needs of the rapidly changing environment by embracing the idea of incremental development and developing the actual final product. Let’s now read about the on which the Agile has laid its foundation:
- Highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- It welcomes changing requirements, even late in development.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shortest timescale.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and the support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Simplicity the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Development in Agile: Let’s see a brief overview of how development occurs in Agile philosophy.
- In Agile development, Design and Implementation are considered to be the central activities in the software process.
- Design and Implementation phase also incorporates other activities such as requirements elicitation and testing into it.
- In an agile approach, iteration occurs across activities. Therefore, the requirements and the design are developed together, rather than separately.
- The allocation of requirements and the design planning and development as executed in a series of increments. In contrast with the conventional model, where requirements gathering needs to be completed in order to proceed to the design and development phase, it gives Agile development an extra level of flexibility.
- An agile process focuses more on code development rather than documentation.
Example: Let’s go through an example to understand clearly how agile actually works. A Software company named ABC wants to make a new web browser for the latest release of its operating system. The deadline for the task is 10 months. The company’s head assigned two teams named Team A and Team B for this task. In order to motivate the teams, the company head says that the first team to develop the browser would be given a salary hike and a one-week full-sponsored travel plan. With the dreams of their wild travel fantasies, the two teams set out on the journey of the web browser. Team A decided to play by the book and decided to choose the Waterfall model for the development. Team B after a heavy discussion decided to take a leap of faith and choose Agile as their development model. The Development plan of the Team A is as follows:
- Requirement analysis and Gathering – 1.5 Months
- Design of System – 2 Months
- Coding phase – 4 Months
- System Integration and Testing – 2 Months
- User Acceptance Testing – 5 Weeks
The Development plan for the Team B is as follows:
- Since this was an Agile, the project was broken up into several iterations.
- The iterations are all of the same time duration.
- At the end of each iteration, a working product with a new feature has to be delivered.
- Instead of Spending 1.5 months on requirements gathering, They will decide the core features that are required in the product and decide which of these features can be developed in the first iteration.
- Any remaining features that cannot be delivered in the first iteration will be delivered in the next subsequent iteration, based on the priority
- At the end of the first iterations, the team will deliver working software with the core basic features.
Both the team have put their best efforts to get the product to a complete stage. But then out of blue due to the rapidly changing environment, the company’s head come up with an entirely new set of features and want to be implemented as quickly as possible and wanted to push out a working model in 2 days. Team A was now in a fix, they were still in their design phase and did not yet start coding and they had no working model to display. And moreover, it was practically impossible for them to implement new features since waterfall model there is not reverting back to the old phase once you proceed to the next stage, which means they would have to start from the square one again. That would incur their heavy cost and a lot of overtime. Team B was ahead of Team A in a lot of aspects, all thanks to Agile Development. They also had the working product with most of the core requirements since the first increment. And it was a piece of cake for them to add the new requirements. All they had to do is schedule these requirements for the next increment and then implement them.
- Deployment of software is quicker and thus helps in increasing the trust of the customer.
- Can better adapt to rapidly changing requirements and respond faster.
- Helps in getting immediate feedback which can be used to improve the software in the next increment.
- People – Not Process. People and interactions are given a higher priority rather than process and tools.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
- Increased collaboration and communication: Agile methodologies emphasize collaboration and communication among team members, stakeholders, and customers. This leads to improved understanding, better alignment, and increased buy-in from everyone involved.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Agile methodologies are designed to be flexible and adaptable, making it easier to respond to changes in requirements, priorities, or market conditions. This allows teams to quickly adjust their approach and stay focused on delivering value.
- Improved quality and reliability: Agile methodologies place a strong emphasis on testing, quality assurance, and continuous improvement. This helps to ensure that software is delivered with high quality and reliability, reducing the risk of defects or issues that can impact the user experience.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction: Agile methodologies prioritize customer satisfaction and focus on delivering value to the customer. By involving customers throughout the development process, teams can ensure that the software meets their needs and expectations.
- Increased team morale and motivation: Agile methodologies promote a collaborative, supportive, and positive work environment. This can lead to increased team morale, motivation, and engagement, which can in turn lead to better productivity, higher quality work, and improved outcomes.
- In case of large software projects, it is difficult to assess the effort required at the initial stages of the software development life cycle.
- The Agile Development is more code focused and produces less documentation.
- Agile development is heavily depended on the inputs of the customer. If the customer has ambiguity in his vision of the final outcome, it is highly likely for the project to get off track.
- Face to Face communication is harder in large-scale organizations.
- Only senior programmers are capable of taking the kind of decisions required during the development process. Hence it’s a difficult situation for new programmers to adapt to the environment.
- Lack of predictability: Agile Development relies heavily on customer feedback and continuous iteration, which can make it difficult to predict project outcomes, timelines, and budgets.
- Limited scope control: Agile Development is designed to be flexible and adaptable, which means that scope changes can be easily accommodated. However, this can also lead to scope creep and a lack of control over the project scope.
- Lack of emphasis on testing: Agile Development places a greater emphasis on delivering working code quickly, which can lead to a lack of focus on testing and quality assurance. This can result in bugs and other issues that may go undetected until later stages of the project.
- Risk of team burnout: Agile Development can be intense and fast-paced, with frequent sprints and deadlines. This can put a lot of pressure on team members and lead to burnout, especially if the team is not given adequate time for rest and recovery.
- Lack of structure and governance: Agile Development is often less formal and structured than other development methodologies, which can lead to a lack of governance and oversight. This can result in inconsistent processes and practices, which can impact project quality and outcomes.
Agile is a framework that defines how software development needs to be carried on. Agile is not a single method, it represents the various collection of methods and practices that follow the value statements provided in the manifesto. Agile methods and practices do not promise to solve every problem present in the software industry (No Software model ever can). But they sure help to establish a culture and environment where solutions emerge.
Agile software development is an iterative and incremental approach to software development. It emphasizes collaboration between the development team and the customer, flexibility and adaptability in the face of changing requirements, and the delivery of working software in short iterations.
The Agile Manifesto, which outlines the principles of agile development, values individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and response to change. Agile development typically involves the following practices:
Scrum: Scrum is a framework for agile software development that involves iterative cycles called sprints, daily stand-up meetings, and a product backlog that is prioritized by the customer.
Kanban: Kanban is a visual system that helps teams manage their work and improve their processes. It involves using a board with columns to represent different stages of the development process, and cards or sticky notes to represent work items.
Continuous Integration: Continuous Integration is the practice of frequently merging code changes into a shared repository, which helps to identify and resolve conflicts early in the development process.
Test-Driven Development: Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a development practice that involves writing automated tests before writing the code. This helps to ensure that the code meets the requirements and reduces the likelihood of defects.
Pair Programming: Pair programming involves two developers working together on the same code. This helps to improve code quality, share knowledge, and reduce the likelihood of defects.
Agile development has several advantages over traditional software development approaches, including:
- Increased customer satisfaction: Agile development involves close collaboration with the customer, which helps to ensure that the software meets their needs and expectations.
- Faster time-to-market: Agile development emphasizes the delivery of working software in short iterations, which helps to get the software to market faster.
- Reduced risk: Agile development involves frequent testing and feedback, which helps to identify and resolve issues early in the development process.
- Improved team collaboration: Agile development emphasizes collaboration and communication between team members, which helps to improve productivity and morale.
- Adaptability to change: Agile Development is designed to be flexible and adaptable, which means that changes to the project scope, requirements, and timeline can be accommodated easily. This can help the team to respond quickly to changing business needs and market demands.
- Better quality software: Agile Development emphasizes continuous testing and feedback, which helps to identify and resolve issues early in the development process. This can lead to higher quality software that is more reliable and less prone to errors.
- Increased transparency: Agile Development involves frequent communication and collaboration between the team and the customer, which helps to improve transparency and visibility into the project status and progress. This can help to build trust and confidence with the customer and other stakeholders.
- Higher productivity: Agile Development emphasizes teamwork and collaboration, which helps to improve productivity and reduce waste. This can lead to faster delivery of working software with fewer defects and rework.
- Improved project control: Agile Development emphasizes continuous monitoring and measurement of project metrics, which helps to improve project control and decision-making. This can help the team to stay on track and make data-driven decisions throughout the development process.
In summary, Agile software development is a popular approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and the delivery of working software in short iterations. It has several advantages over traditional software development approaches, including increased customer satisfaction, faster time-to-market, and reduced risk.
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