What are the Benefits of Agile Software Development

Gimena Aguerreberry
June 20, 2021

Agile is a software development approach in which tasks and solutions are completed through the collaborative effort of cross-functional teams.

More IT professionals are beginning to recognize the impact of adopting agile principles for its ability to produce high-quality projects more frequently, consistently, and with greater value.

In the 11th Annual State of Agile Report, 98% of survey respondents stated that their organization realized the success of using an agile approach, and as a result, are working to incorporate across all cross-functional teams.

The Agile approach to software was crystallized in 2001, in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The Manifesto valued the following:

  • Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools

  • Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiations

  • Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Agile development, in its simplest form, offers a lightweight framework for helping teams maintain a focus on the rapid delivery of business value. As a result of this focus, the benefits of agile software development are that organizations are capable of significantly reducing the overall risk associated with software development.

In particular, agile development accelerates the delivery of initial business value, and through a process of continuous planning and feedback, is able to ensure that value is continuing to be maximized throughout the development process.

As a result of this iterative planning and feedback loop, team members are able to continuously align the delivered software with desired business needs, easily adapting to changing requirements throughout the process.

Finally, as a result of following an agile process, at the conclusion of a project is a software system that much better addresses the business and customer needs.

Agile’s continuous delivery approach has many advantages versus a linear, Waterfall methodology. Here’s an overview of what are the benefits of Agile Software Development:

1. Stakeholder Engagement

Agile provides multiple opportunities for stakeholder and team engagement – before, during, and after each Sprint. By involving the client in every step of the software development project, there is a high degree of collaboration between the client and project team, providing more opportunities for the team to truly understand the client’s vision.

2. Manage to Change More Effectively

By creating smaller iterations, the team is able to 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.

3. Transparency

An Agile approach provides a unique opportunity for clients to be involved throughout the project, from prioritizing features to iteration planning and review sessions to frequent software build containing new features.

However, this also requires clients to understand that they are seeing a work in progress in exchange for this added benefit of transparency.

4. Improved Team Collaboration

Effective collaboration is a foundational characteristic of agile teams. It is proven that by implementing agile principles, development teams have more open lines of communication internally with their own teams as well as with the client. Internally, agile teams have tighter collaboration and more close, consistent communication boosting productivity and efficiency. Internal teams are challenged to work seamlessly together and navigate the best ways to communicate.

5. Predictable Costs and Schedule

Because each Sprint is a fixed duration, the cost is predictable and limited to the amount of work that can be performed by the team in the fixed-schedule time box.

The client can more readily understand the approximate cost of each feature, which improves decision-making about the priority of features and the need for additional iterations.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Product Owner Feedback

With work broken into sprints, it is possible for you to 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.

9. Improves Quality

By breaking down the project into manageable units, the project team can focus on high-quality development, testing, and collaboration. Also, by producing frequent builds and conducting testing and reviews during each iteration, quality is improved by finding and fixing defects quickly and identifying expectation mismatches early.

10. Focus on customer satisfaction

Agile commonly use user stories with business-focused acceptance criteria to define product features. By focusing features on the needs of real users, each feature incrementally delivers value, not just an IT component. This also provides the opportunity to beta test software after each Sprint, gaining valuable feedback early in the project and providing the ability to make changes as needed.

Issues with traditional software development

A study conducted in the United Kingdom showed that 87% of software projects failed and waterfall-style management was the "single largest contributing factor for failure, being cited in 82% of the projects as the number one problem."

In another study, it was found that four out of the five key factors contributing to project failure were associated with or aggravated by the waterfall model. Only 10% of the developed code was actually deployed, and of that, only 20% was actually used.

The waterfall approach is a risky and expensive way to build software systems.

Conclusion - What are the Benefits of Agile Software Development

Incorporating agile development principles is a powerful tool that is dramatically improving overall team effectiveness, project quality and providing greater value to the customer. It may be hard to predict, but we see that agile methodologies will continue to gain popularity and be further implemented as a development best practice.

Further adoption by companies that have traditionally only operated in a waterfall model needs to incorporate agile principles to stay competitive in today’s environment. Before kicking off your next development project, consider the benefits agile can bring to your business and explore utilizing an agile development process.

"What are the Benefits of Agile Software Development" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Sigmund.

Categorized under software development / agile.

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