Agile Development – What is it?
A group of professionals started creating special software by making note of developers of other software, their teams and the processes they incorporated, to make their task easier. As a result of these observations, they were able to produce the Agile Manifesto, stating that it was possible to incorporate improved means of creating software through this and assisting others in several ways, such as:
- Offering response to change instead of merely following plans
- Producing a working software instead of a comprehensive document
- Focusing on interactions and individuals, not merely process and tools
- Collaborating with customers instead of negotiation by contract
Though the items mentioned on the right side possess value, the left side items are more valuable. Given below are twelve techniques of Agile Development that have been identified, introducing an entirely new field of the process of Software Development.
Updates need to be delivered frequently, such as every two weeks or months with a shorter duration, as this makes the customers more at ease and develops confidence in the product and the seller, leading to improved relationships. It also enables better feedback from the client, so that we can react quickly and effectively by making modifications to features and modules or the architecture, otherwise one just finds that months of work has merely gone to waste. Consider the following scenario:
Suppose the job is to produce a module for using a content manager for displaying ordinary text. However, there is a change and a demand is made for sending a form as an email to a specific address that has been configured. The requirements also include a form that can be customized for adding special fields and also for validators to be defined. The simple text form has now to be abandoned in order to incorporate the new requirements. Wouldn’t you like to be informed about the change soon? Frequent delivery would allow you to know about these changes at an earlier stage, making it simpler for both the parties.
2. Providing Customer Satisfaction
We seek to offer regular and complete satisfaction to clients with user friendly and worthy software by adding a feature per iteration. For instance, while creating a blog engine, the following processes are applied:
- Creating the display page of the blog for the customer.
- Create features for membership and user management for the customer
- Create management and capabilities for commenting, etc.
The above process is a simple one allowing the client to view the software progress and offer his feedback at every point and feature, so that it can be tweaked accordingly, offering the perfect scenario.
3. Adaptability to Change
With the help of Agile Processes, you can make changes to enhance the creation even at a late stage of development. Your client might possibly want you to complete the project soon according to the design he has conceived. You need to listen to their design ideas and be ready for making any changes according to their requirement, making you the best choice for the client. Agile Processes focuses on making changes and improving communication and quickens the development process according to client requirements. The reason for this is that small bits of software are being developed, which makes it easier to implement changes quickly.
4. Creating Projects with the Right Motivation
With Agile Processes, you can provide the right environment to clients and give them support and trust for completing the perfect job. You can offer the client an interesting atmosphere with the required tools for creating the proper software. Businesses usually lose their employees by not being concerned enough about them. They don’t believe that their developers are capable of writing and testing software as well as deploying it on a server with the use of an FTP client and later edit the live production. Such habits need to be got rid of, as companies need to retain their workers and, at the same time, it is useful for creating improved software in a short time. Development time can be greatly reduced by making use of automated tests and deployment along with writing codes that are reusable. Projects are generally slowed down as one needs to know the usage of tools, such as Jenkins, Behat, Gerrit and so on, but these tools can be reused for other projects in the future.
5. Frequently Working on Projects Together
For those companies who have been developing software in the conventional waterfall style, this might be slightly tough, as you and your client are not quite on the same wavelength. Yet, you could try to have effective communication with your client. This is easily done by informing the developer about the person for whom the feature is being designed, the responsibility, the purpose and so on. All this can only be possible when we work more closely with the client. BDD or Behavior Driven Development could also be very useful in this context.
6. Making Use of Direct Communication
A face to face communication is the most effective means of communicating with your clients as well as the working team. It can be quite irritating to find thousands of emails in the inbox, as the rules of the company make it imperative to have every conversation in the form of an email. Such working practices can be very unproductive, as face to face communication is the most effective means for smooth and easy transfer of information. We can converse with our teammates through verbal as well as nonverbal methods and this usually proves faster than sending emails. Face to face communication also increases trust in each other.
7. Sustainable Development through Constant Pace
With the help of Agile Processes, you can maintain a constant pace leading to development that you can sustain indefinitely. The main features of Agile Processes include adapting to changes and quick response to feedbacks. These are known positive factors, but the greatest advantage is the feature that allows determination of the time consumed by a feature or a project. The development team is capable of predicting the capacity after it has created a few deliveries. The work that can be completed in a single iteration can be calculated, as this capacity number is a stable number. Hence, when mentioning deadlines and estimates, you don’t need to make any vague statements while making offers to your customer. People might consider that it is not always possible to predict scheduling times accurately; however, with Agile Processes there will be no delays or mistakes.
8. Maintaining Simplicity
Focus on simplicity. However, don’t take this to mean that it implies laziness; it simply means that you don’t need to complicate things to improve it. You can lessen the workload by doing just what the client requires without adding any other enhancements or functions that are not asked for. This is exactly what the customer wants as well.
9. Keep an Eye on the Industry
You can be more agile by continually paying attention to changes and progress being made in the industry and evolving accordingly. You need to keep the learning process continuous, as the industry is moving at a fast speed, with improvements being made in hardware and software. You need to be up to date; otherwise you will soon get left behind in the track. The solution to the problem lies in refactoring, which allows us to incorporate new strategies and techniques to improve the software.
10. Using Working Software to Measure Progress
You can work on the basis of your processes, knowing that software developers cannot be compared with other employees, hence, they needed to be treated accordingly. The important thing is that the job is to be done. No developer is interested in creating an inferior software and by allowing them to work based on their preferences, it is less likely that they create bad software. The client is only concerned with the work being done correctly and is not bothered about the way in which it was done.
11. Reflecting/Adjusting for Greater Effectiveness
The development team needs to reflect periodically in order to have greater effectiveness and make adjustments to behavior in accordance. This is only possible after a few cycles of development, but the team can then work harmoniously even with the addition of a few new members. The Agile development team works in friendly surroundings and is able to offer the software solution speedily due to the harmonious working atmosphere.
12. Teams that are Self Organized
Self organized teams can produce the best designs and architecture. We might all have gone through a situation when we created a huge application by spending a lot of precious time in front of the computer and wrote out several codes on the basis of tutorials and books that we had read. Finally, we looked at the end product and felt that we could surely have done better in some parts. Test Driven Development or TDD is an important aspect, which is concerned with incorporating the refactoring process. This helps to create useful and well written software. With a self organized team, each member has a certain role to play, not one that is assigned to him, but rather one that is automatically created when you work together, bringing out the real effectiveness of team work.
Methodologies of Agile Development – Some Samples
Agile principles have given rise to certain principles and methodologies and we introduce some of the effective Agile approaches here. However, it must be borne in mind that there isn’t any specific approach that is ‘best’; you need to choose the approach that suits the specific task, configuring it to the requirements.
- Lean Software Development
The main principles of Lean Software are the DAFAP and the DALAP. DAFAP stands for Deliver as Fast as Possible and DALAP stands for Decide as Late as Possible.
This approach was created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. In order to manage software development processes more efficiently, this framework that exists in various forms can be used. There is no necessity of adhering closely to the rules, as the main objective is to work effectively to bring out results.
- XP – Extreme Programming
This approach was designed by Kent Back and developers can follow this approach when they create software. It is also considered as an extension of SCRUM and was created as the latter was more business oriented. XP offers a development oriented approach.
Apart from the above, there are several other methodologies in the Agile Processes. You can use the Agile process that suits your purpose or requirements.
A Last Word
If you are wondering whether Agile strategies actually work and are really effective, I will frankly say that they may not, at least not always.
Agile processes may not work if you chose the wrong methodology for the work, as in this case it will not provide the correct results and can even make things worse. The business members along with the development team and other users need to have conviction while using it and everyone involved must have a clear understanding of the rules regarding Agile Techniques.