Agile software development is far better than traditional waterfall ideology because it focuses on an end product, not methodology. In simple terms, it helps your custom software development company create better software by focusing on these four things:
Jim Smith, author of History: The Agile Manifesto, explains, “The Agile movement is not anti-methodology, in fact, many of us want to restore credibility to the word methodology. We want to restore a balance. We embrace modeling, but not in order to file some diagram in a dusty corporate repository. We embrace documentation, but not hundreds of pages of never maintained and rarely used tomes. We plan but recognize the limits of planning in a turbulent environment. Those who would brand proponents of XP or SCRUM or any of the other Agile Methodologies as “hackers” are ignorant of both the methodologies and the original definition of the term hacker.”
Waterfall methodology is about moving to the next phase of the project at any cost. Project managers blindly follow their roadmaps and checklists, forgetting the most important thing – the customers’ needs and wants. There is no latitude for changes that occur within the business over time.
In agile processes, individuals and their needs are the top concern. With agile methodologies, the developer, designer, tester, project manager, and customer stay on the same page. This allows for any changes in the business to reflect faster in the software, compared to delaying the whole project or waiting until the very end to make changes. Key meetings and communication points are embedded in agile methodologies so communication occurs quickly and efficiently.
Working software is the end goal. However, what constitutes working? Correct requirements, reliable, and validated? Have you ever heard a discussion between a software developer who insists the new software is functioning and the customer who knows it’s not what they need? The developer may even refer back to the requirements and point out where functionality matches. It may match, but the point is that the software isn’t “working” for the user.
The software isn’t defined as working as long as it meets requirements. The why and how the requirements changed along the development must be understood, and the software should be adjusted to match. At the end of the day, delivering software that works for the customer’s needs outranks comprehensive and detailed documentation.
Customers need to be involved throughout the entire software development process, not just early on in gathering the requirements. Scrum accounts for this during the two-week cycle: sprint planning, backlog grooming, daily Scrum, retrospective, and demo. Throughout the product development, stakeholders help fine-tune the software.
The custom software development team reviews each stage to deliver business value. The customer and Scrum master will reprioritize the list of requirements in a meeting called Backlog grooming. During this meeting, requirements are removed or added and given higher or lower priority. The customer and software development team have an understanding of what needs to be accomplished. This element in an agile process, like Scrum, encourages change and allows for it to occur. In Waterfall methodology, change is not encouraged and actually is discouraged in order to get the project done.
We use Scrum for our software development, requirements gathering, security, and architecture. We have seen great results with Scrum. Our clients know where we are on the budget on a biweekly basis and estimation of costs are more structured.
In the end, our clients still receive software documentation, and so much more. They get working software that matches their business needs for today and peace of mind.