The Agile Methodology: A Global Approach to Software Development
Agile adoption in the software development sector grew from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021, according to the 15th annual State of Agile Report. The exponential rise in the adoption of Agile methodologies is hardly surprising — since it was first introduced in 2001, the approach has been embraced by a wide variety of tech companies, large and small, as well as some organizations in a wide array of other sectors.
Why has the Agile framework become so important? What benefits does it offer software development teams? Let’s take a look.
What are Agile methodologies?
Agile software development is an iterative approach. The main idea behind the philosophy, as it is often called, is that it is a customer/client-centric process that focuses on delivering high-quality products and projects quickly.
Collaboration is a central tenet of Agile development. Cross-functional teams work together to produce results in incremental periods, called sprints in several Agile methodologies like Scrum. This enables clients and team members to offer feedback on segments, allowing them to address problems immediately before they escalate.
While it is most commonly associated with software development, Agile project management can be applied to other sectors that depend on predictability and high-quality outcomes, as well as the flexibility necessary for responding to rapidly changing environments and continuous improvement.
Typically, the Agile development methodology includes six phases:
These phases may vary from industry to industry and project to project, but the general philosophy remains the same.
A brief history
In the 1990s, the main approach to software development was the Waterfall method. But many developers found this methodology too rigid and time-consuming. Professionals in the industry sought an alternative, one that would focus on flexible, rapid delivery and incorporate meaningful feedback into the process.
In 2001, 17 software industry professionals met to float new ideas regarding approaches to faster, more flexible development. From this initial Agile Alliance meeting, the Agile Manifesto, the basis of the approach, was born.
The Agile Manifesto
Signed by the 17 software development professionals of the original Agile Alliance, the Agile Manifesto includes 12 principles that formulate the foundation of the approach, still in effect today. The first principle states:
“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
This demonstrates that the very heart of the Agile framework is to meet the needs of the end-user.
6 benefits of Agile development
Why are so many businesses leaning on the Agile development methodology? Here are just some of the benefits.
1. Future-proof approach
Agile is about embracing and accepting change. This is in contrast to older approaches, namely Waterfall, which is rigid and leaves little room for a changing landscape. Because the software development process is broken up into short cycles, incorporating feedback into the process at every stage, team members can quickly and easily respond to problems or requests without these changes interrupting the process too significantly.
In fact, according to the State of Agile Report, 64% of respondents say that the approach “enhance[s] ability to manage changing priorities,” naming it their top reason for using Agile.
2. Collaborative process
Agile depends on collaboration. Team members work closely with one another and with their clients, underscoring the importance of teamwork in producing high-quality software. This allows individual team members to feel valued and recognize the impact of their individual contributions to the entirety of the project cycle, as well as appreciate their colleagues and work better with them.
This is a customer-centric approach, which puts the client and the end-user at the heart of the project. The benefits of this are obvious to the customer — they feel valued and will be more satisfied with the product.
But it is also beneficial to the development team. Because they are more equipped to meet the needs of the consumer, they will be better able to build and solidify their reputation as a quality business that prioritizes the needs of their customers.
Of course, Agile methodologies depend on quality — this, along with satisfying the needs of consumers, is central to the entire process. And these two benefits go hand in hand. It stands to reason that when software development teams have quality in mind at all times, they are also looking to please their users.
5. Accelerated delivery
The State of Agile Report also finds that nearly two-thirds of respondents cite accelerated delivery as another major reason why they are adopting the Agile approach in software development.
After all, software development is a constantly evolving field that introduces changes and depends on evolution. Teams are constantly facing new demands and must keep up, bringing their products to market as quickly as possible. Agile makes this possible — not only does it make the process more efficient, but it also ensures that the products teams deliver so speedily are truly ready for release.
One of the main reasons why Agile replaced Waterfall as the most commonly followed software development process and methodology is the flexibility it brings. Software development teams must be able to respond to changing demands, landscapes, and requirements, and without a flexible approach, they don’t have the room to adapt quickly and efficiently.
Agile offers ways for teams to change course whenever they need to, no matter what unpredictable circumstances come their way.
As Agile methods have grown in popularity, additional approaches, which have their basis in Agile, have gained traction as well, as have hybrid methods. Examples include:
• Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
• Crystal Clear
• Extreme Programming (XP)
• Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
• Feature Driven Development (FDD)
• Rapid Application Development (RAD)
According to the State of Agile Report, Scrum remains the most popular Agile approach — 66% of respondents cited it as the Agile methodology they use the most. Another 15% follow Scrum derivations, including ScrumBan or Scrum/XP.
Scrum is a lightweight, process-oriented approach that relies on sprints. The method is divided into the categories of Roles, Artifacts, and Time Boxes. It is generally used for handling large, complex projects and offers a number of advantages, including allowing teams to better manage changes and maintain oversight.
Is Agile the approach for you?
Increasingly, teams across industries are turning to Agile. At Nearsure, we embrace Agile methods, recognizing that these approaches are ideal for feedback-driven development and continuous improvement. Our remote-first philosophy means that teams can collaborate with one another and clients across regions to deliver high-quality, exceptional results.