What is agile methodology? Modern software development explained

Enterprises need software competency to deliver winning digital experiences. Agile development is how enterprises get there

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While agile frameworks define process and collaboration, agile development practices are specific to addressing software development tasks performed in alignment with an agile framework.

So, for example:

  • Some teams adopt pair programming, where two developers code together to drive higher quality code and to enable more senior developers to mentor junior ones.
  • More advanced teams adopt test-driven development and automation to ensure the underlying functionality delivers the expected results.
  • Many teams also adopt technical standards so that the developer’s interpretation of a user story doesn’t lead to just the functionality desired but also meets security, code quality, naming conventions, and other technical standards.

Why the agile methodology is better

When you take the aggregate of agile principles, implement them in an agile framework, leverage collaboration tools, and adopt agile development practices, you usually get better-quality applications, faster-developed applications, and better technical methods (aka hygiene).

The core reason is that agile is designed for flexibility and adaptability. You don’t define all the answers up front as you do in the waterfall method, but break the problem into digestible components that you then develop and test with users. If something isn’t working well or as expected, or if the effort reveals something that hadn’t been considered, you can adapt the effort quickly to get back on track quickly—or even change tracks if that’s what’s needed. Agile lets each team member contribute to the solution, and it requires that each takes personal responsibility for his or her work.

For many problems, agile development is better because its principles, frameworks, and practices are designed around today’s operating conditions. Agile frameworks and development processes that prioritize delivering working software iteratively and promote leveraging feedback to improve the application and process is more suitable to today’s world of operating smarter and faster.

Product owners may think they know exactly how they want to develop an application that fulfills their vision, but rarely do they want to give up the ability to improve that vision as they talk to more users and see how an application actually performs for them. Likewise, development teams think they know how to engineer the perfect application, but they can’t demonstrate it until the entire application is integrated, functionality demonstrated, and changes in requirements rationalized.

Agile development is also better because it encourages an ongoing process of improvement. Imagine if Microsoft ended Windows development after version 3.1 or Google stopped improving its search algorithms in 2002. Software is in constant need of being updated, supported, and enhanced; agile processes that are iterative in nature establish both a mindset and process for that continuous improvement.

Finally, agile development is better because people on the team are more productive and happier working with this process. Engineers have a say in how much work they are taking on, and they are proud to show their results. Product owners like seeing their vision expressed in software sooner and being able to change prioritize based on the latest insights. Users like getting software that does what they actually need, in a way that meets or enhances their processes.

Today, enterprises need a high level of software competency to deliver exceptional digital experiences in a hypercompetitive world. And they need to attract and keep great talent to build great software. Agile development helps enterprises do both.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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