An Overview on Agile

An Overview on Agile
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Written by Shuvhojit DebDecember 1, 2021
12 min read
Agile
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Shuvhojit Deb

Full Stack Developer

We're giving a description of Agile Software Development.

Agile Software Development

Agile software development is more than frameworks such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, or Feature-Driven Development (FDD).

Agile software development is more than practices such as pair programming, test-driven development, stand-ups, planning sessions, and sprints.

Agile software development is an umbrella term for a set of frameworks and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 Principles behind it. When you approach software development in a particular manner, it’s generally good to live by these values and principles and use them to help figure out the right things to do given your particular context.

One thing that separates Agile from other approaches to software development is the focus on the people doing the work and how they work together. Solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams utilizing the appropriate practices for their context.

There’s a big focus in the Agile software development community on collaboration and the self-organizing team.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t managers. It means that teams can figure out how they’re going to approach things on their own.

It means that those teams are cross-functional. Those teams don’t have to have specific roles involved so much as that when you get the team together, you make sure that you have all the right skill sets on the team.

There still is a place for managers. Managers make sure team members have, or obtain, the right skill sets. Managers provide the environment that allows the team to be successful. Managers mostly step back and let their team figure out how they are going to deliver products, but they step in when the teams try but are unable to resolve issues.

When most teams and organizations start doing Agile development, they focus on the practices that help with collaboration and organizing the work, which is great. However, another key set of practices that are not as frequently followed but should be are specific technical practices that directly deal with developing software in a way that helps your team deal with uncertainty. Those technical practices are essential and something you shouldn’t overlook.

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Why choose Agile?

Teams choose agile so they can respond to changes in the marketplace or feedback from customers quickly without derailing a year's worth of plans. "Just enough" planning and shipping in small, frequent increments let your team gather feedback on each change and integrate it into plans at a minimal cost.

But it's not just a numbers game—first and foremost, it's about people. As described by the Agile Manifesto, authentic human interactions are more important than rigid processes. Collaborating with customers and teammates is more important than predefined arrangements. And delivering a working solution to the customer's problem is more important than hyper-detailed documentation.

An agile team unites under a shared vision, then brings it to life the way they know is best. Each team sets its standards for quality, usability, and completeness. Their "definition of done" then informs how fast they'll churn the workout. Although it can be scary at first, company leaders find that when they put their trust in an agile team, that team feels a greater sense of ownership and rises to meet (or exceed) management's expectations.

Advantages of Agile

The advantages of agile are following:

1. Manage to Change More Effectively

By creating smaller iterations, the team can focus on providing value without needing to get all the requirements upfront. At the end of each iteration, the team will review the backlog of features and re-prioritize where they should invest time in the next sprint.

2. Increased Productivity

Agile makes better use of your resources, allowing them to get started faster and remain productive throughout. With work broken into iterations, there is always a milestone and deadline. Developers are always focused on refactoring and moving forward. They won’t be sitting idle, waiting for work during the discovery and design phase.

3. Product Owner Feedback

With work broken into sprints, you can provide feedback before, during, and after each one. This collaboration provides frequent opportunities to ensure that the team is on course to achieving the established business goals.

4. Focus on the Highest Priorities First

In a software development environment, you have to make many decisions and it’s tough to keep it all straight. Your backlog becomes your ultimate, prioritized to-do list that lives out in the open for all to see.

5. Improved Customer Engagement

Agile requires that the clients are significantly involved in the development process. The development team is going to look to the clients to prioritize what is going into the next sprint and to review the work product during review sessions. This continual interaction reduces the confusion between what the client wants and what the developers are going to provide.

6. Visibility

Agile lets you see and become intimately familiar with the product from inception to completion. While watching the application grow, you can provide feedback as it progresses.

7. Accuracy

After a sprint, the team will know their velocity. This allows for better planning. In future sprints, this will serve as a guide for what they will be able to accomplish.

Disadvantages of Agile

1. Lack of documentation

This is one of the biggest issues faced when teams transition from Waterfall project management to an Agile framework. Agile teams condense large volumes of data into smaller user stories, which don’t contain a great amount of detail. This can make it difficult for a developer to grasp the exact customer requirements. Without a documented plan or an official process to follow, team members can easily get confused when moving through project stages.

2. Scope creep

Another major obstacle is scope creep. Customer needs change constantly, inevitably leading to a widening of the project scope. Deliverables multiply quickly, and new features are often added to the workload. Some requirements may need to be rewritten entirely or replaced with updated ones. Teams can become overwhelmed and lose track of these requirements, unsure of which ones to prioritize.

3. High demands on time

Time is another consideration to add to the list of Agile challenges. Team members must make room in their schedule for daily standup meetings, which can disrupt their workflow. What’s more, the Agile philosophy requires developers to engage in constant collaboration with testers, clients, and other project stakeholders. This high level of interaction can place a significant strain on Agile team members and their time management abilities.

4. Unsuitable for long-term projects

Finally, one of the most common Agile problems occurs when teams try to make the methodology work for unsuitable projects. Agile iterations are designed to produce smaller deliverables incrementally, which is ideal for software development. However, this level of fragmentation would not be compatible with a long-term project. For example, in a construction project such as building a house, the final deliverable is fixed and change is undesirable, making it more suited to a Waterfall framework.

Summary

Agile Development is one of the big buzzwords of the software development industry which is a different way of managing software development projects. Rather than a specific software development method, it is an umbrella term for a set of methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto. Solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams utilizing the appropriate practices for their context.

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