What is Agile Development Methodology?

Guest post 11.5.2021. Reading Time: 5 minutes

Types, Pros, and Common Misconceptions

Agile software development methodology was inadvertently introduced in the year 1957. Its roots originated when computer scientists Gerald Weinberg and John Von Neumann used an incremental development approach for developing IBM and Motorola software. Decades later, the agile software development methodology gained popularity and became a widely accepted standard for software development. 

Unlike the regular Waterfall development approach that involves requirement gathering and documentation before the start of the project, Agile approach is all about iteration cycles and incremental progress. In Agile methodology, the development team can start developing the project with minimum requirements and add more features at the later stages of development. 

When compared with the waterfall approach, a major difference in agile methodology is that it allows you to return to the requirements gathering stage and repeat the development process. This leaves scope for unpredicted changes in the project.

Need and Use Case for Agile Development Methodology

The actual need for agile software development methodology derives from the increasing competition amongst businesses. Due to ever-changing consumer behavior and trends, businesses themselves need to be agile, i.e., to be able to react to changing consumer trends in a short time. 

Agile methodology provides this agility via iterative development. For a better understanding, let’s take the example of two rival businesses Brand X and Brand Y. Brand X already has a highly functioning mobile app to deliver its services. Brand Y wants a similar app and opts for waterfall development. 

However, till the time Brand Y’s app is fully developed, Brand X would have updated its app with the latest features required to match the dynamic market trends. Thus, Brand Y’s app would look outdated in comparison and fail to meet user expectations. 

Agile methodology is the solution for Brand Y’s problem. With agile software development, Brand Y can iterate its app N number of times, add or remove any features, do UI/UX changes and remain a close competitor of Brand X

Types of Agile Development 

Scrum and Kanban are the two agile development methodologies that are widely in use across the globe. They both include incremental progress and allow you to return to the requirement gathering stage. 

Scrum Development

The Scrum development approach includes various sprints or iterative cycles for development. At the end of every sprint, the development team goes back to the requirement-gathering stage to collect information for the next sprint. In this manner, SCRUM adds incremental progress to the project and builds value. In the meantime, consider using a project management time tracker so that you have everything under control.

However, a notable limitation of the Scrum development method is that any changes can be only implemented in the next sprint. A major benefit of this development approach is that it requires less team collaboration while still providing the benefits of agile. 

Kanban Development

Kanban development focuses on the development of high-priority features. Instead of using sprints, it uses a pulling technique and the Kanban board.

In the pulling technique, developers with available bandwidth select a high-priority task from the Kanban board and only move onto the next task after its completion. Thus, the Kanban development approach requires more coordination between developers. However, changes can be made anytime depending on task priority. 

Difference between Scrum and Kanban Development 

Scrum Development Kanban Development
Uses sprint cycles for developmentUses pulling technique for development
Roles and tasks are specifically assigned to developersDevelopers with available bandwidth themselves handpick top-priority tasks
Requirements can be only gathered at the end of a development sprint and the changes have to wait for the next sprintRequirements can be gathered anytime. Tasks are sorted according to priority, allowing the changes to be made anytime in the development process
Individual performance is given significance Team coordination is given significance
Tasks are processed in batch and any backlogs move on to the next sprintOne task is processed at one time and there are no backlogs 

Pros of Agile Development Methodology 

  • Market-Fit End-Product: Agile methodology ensures that the end-product is up-to-date with the latest trends. It makes the product truly state-of-the-art and responsive to market needs, ensuring conformity to the expected user experience. 
  • Continuous Improvement: Both Scrum and Kanban development approaches are all about incremental improvement. After each iteration, the end-product becomes a better version of itself. Thus, ensuring continuous improvement to the first-planned version and an end-product that exceeds the client’s expectations.
  • Highly-Flexible: Agile development approaches are highly flexible. They leave scope for the client to add or remove any features or ask for design changes after the pre-development information gathering. Leaving, no scope for later regrets and providing an efficient way to resolve product development complexities
  • Efficient Management: Managing changes in the Waterfall model isn’t possible as any change would require the development team to begin the development from scratch. In agile development, managing the entire development process is much easier and efficient. Coordination between the client and the development is also not a problem as the client plays an active role in the development process.
  • A Transparent Approach: Agile development involves a complete contract life-cycle. The development company updates the contract from time to time and the client can negotiate the updated terms. This allows for more transparency along with the fact that the client does not need to wait for a deadline to see the final end product. 

Common Misconceptions about Agile

#1 There is No End to Agile Development

Agile development involves incremental improvement due to which the product improves after every successful iteration of the development process. However, the iteration process comes to an end when the product reaches a stage when it already constitutes all the market trends and there’s simply no scope for improvement left. Similarly, the client can also end the project anytime at his sole discretion.

#2 There is No Fixed Budget in Agile

Budget management in agile development is done at various stages. Due to this, the entire agile development process is divided into various smaller budgets. Each sprint or Kanban board task has its own budget, which cannot be calculated at the initial development stage of the project. However, this clears the misconception that agile does not have a fixed budget. It has various smaller budgets that the client can manage and reduce them, he can reduce the number of features per iteration and even the number of iterations as well. 

#3 Agile Development is Poorly Planned

Even projects with large numbers of iterations are properly planned in agile development. Adequate planning is required in agile to assure the proper execution of a sprint/Kanban board. Moreover, to even begin with a project, the development team requires the bare minimum requirements. It is after the first iteration that other changes are planned. All these changes, from the first iteration to the very last one, are properly documented to ensure the development follows a strict plan. 

Conclusion: Who Should Opt for Agile Development?

There are various reasons to opt for agile, such as if you want higher transparency or are unsure about the complete requirements of your project. However, to be more precise, we can conclude that the following businesses can benefit the most with agile methodology:

  • Businesses requiring to be an active part of the development process
  • Businesses requiring a state-of-the-art product in the long run
  • Businesses emphasizing research-based development of their software and a market-fit end-product
  • Businesses planning to deliver SaaS or long-term services through the software, such as food delivery and cab booking services
  • Businesses with frequently changing market trends

Author Bio-

Ramesh Lal is working as a Digital Marketing Executive at FATbit Technologies, a leading software development company in India. He has over 5 years of experience in marketing and his expertise spans both B2B and B2C companies.