What is the Agile Software Development model?
Agile is a set of values and principles for developing efficient software projects by self-organized teams. It is one of the models of the software development life cycle (SDLC).
In 2001, 17 world-renowned professors in the field of the software development industry formulated and presented the agile principles in a statement entitled “Agile Development Statement.” The purpose of these principles and values is to provide efficient software to the customer.
Why developers need the agile method?!
Why developers need the agile method?! In other words, why these 17 people (plus a few dozen others who indirectly influenced the statement) in 2001 published such an approach!?
The answer is quite clear: the weaknesses in the traditional software development life cycle led these friends to introduce the agile approach.
Why were traditional methods not effective enough?
Traditional methods usually performed operations in phases. So, the result was already predicted in the form of an accurate up-front design. These predictions had some basic and general drawbacks:
- Wasting a lot of time to make an accurate initial design in the beginning of the project
- Requirements were unclear due to paper-based communication instead of face-to-face interaction.
- The high cost of changes
- Failure to complete the work within the specified period and prolongation of the project duration
- Lack of time to test the product and consequently buggy and low-quality products
- Lack of transparency in the development and production process- No one, not even the project manager, knew how far the team had progressed and what goals remain.
Fortunately, these problems were solved in the agile model.
The most critical issue about old software project’s processes was their products’ inefficiency. But what was the reason for this inefficiency?
The reason for software inefficiency in traditional models
Anticipation is the basis of old methods’ performance. In these models, the professional team documents all the product features and requirements in the first phase. Then, the project manager provides these requirements to the software development team to start coding and complete it within a set timeframe and limited resources.
The exact design developed initially is called the ”Big Design Up-Front.” The same famous saying that you may have heard: “If we have one year, we will spend ten months for analysis and design and two months for implementation.”
Where everything is fixed, Big Design Up-Front is wise. Nevertheless, in the real world, everything changes continuously.
The right solution is to produce a quality product from scratch instead of injecting quality into the final product. This is not possible when you have finalized everything in the very first stage. The agile model largely solves these inflexibilities.
In general, the prediction principles on which the traditional methods are based have no good relationship with changes. These methods predict everything, and change is very costly for them.
Changes are very costly for traditional models.
The high cost’s reason is that the team realized their mistakes and missteps too late – often at the software project. Over time, the later you discover a change or problem, the more difficult, complex, and costly it is to fix it. That is why the team rejects changes.
Rejecting change means inefficient product and software project output. Any changes or corrections you make to the software are to complete or make it more efficient. The customer is always in need of change (because his business is changing or has made a mistake in recognizing the requirements). If you don’t change the software, it will not work for the customer’s business. On the other hand, the change in traditional methods is expensive and not cost-effective.
These problems paved the way for creating new models such as the agile life cycle model.
Another major disadvantage of anticipating is that it prevents product innovation. That means there will actually be no innovation!
Other issues of old software development processes
Beyond what we mentioned above, the following defects led those 17 world-renowned professors to introduce a new method to improve the software development process that we know as Agile.
- Problems in existing processes
- Low-quality outputs and inefficient products
- The loss and dissatisfaction of human resources
- Large financial losses in information technology
Let’s get acquainted with the agile method.
Agile Software Development model
Agile is a term used in the IT industry as an alternative to project management. It is a software development model that uses scheduled and repetitive tasks to build software gradually instead of making it all at once.
The opposite point of the anticipation is the “Adaptation Mode” on which agile thinking is based.
In adaptation, project managers use Real-Time Planning and Emergent Design instead of a detailed design to make the product more compatible with the customer’s real needs. They find enough software requirements through constant face-to-face communication with customers. These feedback requirements are what the team implements, not other things.
The iterative and incremental nature of agile thinking provides an opportunity to create a platform for adaptation. In this way, the team builds the software incrementally and presents it to the customer within known and short iterations. In each iteration or rotation, customer feedback enters the development process as new requirements, which, due to constant and quick feedback, the cost of change will be meager.
Furthermore, in the agile model, the testing process can be performed seamlessly with the development of segments that promise a quality product in every release due to its incremental nature. Instead of injecting quality, we make high-quality segments, which reduce each piece’s maintenance cost and help us change the software easily. While in the anticipation method, the testing process was in the last phase.
Adaptation-based method’s attribute
In general, the following are the features of an Adaptation-based method:
- Real-Time Planning
- Emergent Design
- Integrated Testing
- Collaborative Discussions
- Just-in-Time & Just-Enough Requirements
In short, in agile thinking, the goal is to deliver efficient software to the customer. Efficient software is a product that is compatible with customer needs. For this reason, the Agile Development Statement has designed its principles and values to achieve these goals.
Agile software development values
- People and interactions are more important than methods and tools.
- Efficient software is superior to documentation.
- Customer cooperation is higher than the employment contract.
- Responding to change is more important than following a plan.
The value of people and interactions in the agile model means creating an active and collaborative environment between team members. Customer collaboration value means achieving customer feedback and creating innovation. The value of responding to change is also effective in achieving the high value of software.
In other words, we have a team with good interactions between its members. This team develops efficient software by taking customer feedback sequentially and adapting the product to customer needs.
All of these are values that we expect an agile organization to have. But these are not absolute, and organizations can have their value for agility.
In addition to the values of an agile organization, there are 12 agile principles that organizations can follow to achieve agile values:
Principles of Agile Statement
We follow these principles:
- The highest priority is customer satisfaction. Timely and continuous delivery of software is valuable.
- Catering to changing needs, even those which emerge late in development. Agile processes harness and control change to compete for the customer.
- Delivery of functional software is often done every few weeks to several months. We prefer shorter courses.
- Business stakeholders and developers need to work together every day throughout the project.
- Build projects on motivated people. Give them the environment they need and support their needs. Trust them to get things done.
- Face-to-face communication with team members is more effective than other conveying information methods.
- Performance software is the main criterion for progress.
- Continuous development is one of the principles of agility. For this reason, all parties to the contract must be willing to cooperate indefinitely.
- The team must continuously pay attention to good design. Tips for technical excellence are essential.
- The principle of simplicity is essential.
- The teams of each organization are able to do the best design and determine the most accurate requirements.
- At regular intervals, the team ponders how to be more effective and adjusts its behavior to that thinking.
Combining these values and principles in an organization makes that organization more agile. Of course, note that the organization does not work agile but becomes agile.
How to become agile?
To be agile, top-level managers of the organization, as well as human resource management, must adhere to agile values and principles. In other words, the whole organization must do agile, not just the software development department or unit. For this reason, moving the organization towards agility is not a change but a Transformation. That means the organization must transform itself in the way of agility.
How does agile work?
In agile, we first divide the project into small sections based on user performance called User Stories. Then we prioritize tasks and complete each of them in 2-week time cycles called iteration cycles.
In simple language, agile does what you and I do when we have a lot of work and little time. Now let’s go through the steps:
Make a list
After talking to a client or employer, you should create a list of features they want the software to have. We call the items in this list ‘User Stories.’ These become a To-Do List that you must use for the project.
In this step, you have to use agile estimation techniques and then prioritize all these User Stories. You need to guess how long each of these will take.
Prioritize the tasks
Like most To-Do lists, there always seems to be more work to be done than you can do in a limited time. So you should ask your client or employer to set priorities for you so that you can do the most important things first and the less important ones last.
Start creating the software in the agile method.
Then you start creating value for the customer by doing the items you wrote in the list from top to bottom one by one. You can do the cycle of building, repeating, and getting feedback from the customer or employer many times.
Update your program as you progress in the agile method
If you are moving at the right speed in the agile method, everything is fine. But if you are behind schedule, you either have to cut corners or ask the employer for more time and money.