Agile development is an approach to software development that relies on iterative changes and continual collaboration between the client and coding team. Instead of delivering a finished product all at once, Agile development relies on putting together a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP goes through several revisions and edits to arrive at the final product.
How is Agile Development Different From Other Development Models
Prior to Agile, the Waterfall Model of development was popular among software companies. It is still practiced by certain organizations, or for specific projects. The Waterfall Model relies on listing down all the requirements of a project at the outset. Once the document of requirements is ready, it goes to the coding and design team for a finished product.
In the Agile methodology, on the other hand, the entire scope of the project need not be defined at the outset. A quick, working prototype is developed, and continual changes are made to the prototype to get the final product.
Benefits of Agile Development
Since the model relies on an iterative approach to software development, it allows a lot more flexibility compared to other development models, such as the Waterfall method. Some other key benefits of Agile development are:
Unlike other development models, there is constant interaction between the development team and the client. Thus, it is more likely to develop a product that meets the market's expectations.
Focus on users
Agile defines the requirements of any project in terms of the needs of the end-user. The focus is on adding value to the end-user with every feature, instead of developing new tools.
Agile development typically involves small teams when compared to the waterfall model, which translates to lesser development costs at the outset.
Prioritization of features
Unlike other popular development models, such as the Waterfall model, Agile prioritizes features. Issues are addressed based on their importance, which reduces the risk of project being complete failures.
One of the approaches of the Agile development is to break down a project into smaller, manageable tasks. It is easier to perform test runs on parts of a project rather than the whole project at once, which means lesser bugs.
Difference Between Agile Development and Agile Methodology
Agile development refers to the iterative process of developing a product in the software development world. Agile methodology, on the other hand, refers to the general principles of Agile, which can be applied to any business function. In fact, Agile methodology can be applied to just a subset of the software development cycle. For instance, a company that uses a traditional model of software development might rely on Agile testing.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework of Agile development. Agile development, in itself, is a philosophy. Within this philosophy are various frameworks, Scrum being one of the most popular of the lot. It is, typically, used for complex software projects where the requirements might change quickly. Scrum relies on sprints, which are time-bound events with a specific set of deliverables. Typically, sprints last between 2 and 4 weeks.
While Scrum can differ between organizations in its workflow, there are three essential elements that any Scrum framework stands on. These are:
- Product backlog: This is a "To Do" list that comprises features, bug fixes, and enhancements.
- Sprint backlog: This is the list of items chosen from the product backlog, before each sprint.
- Increment: Milestones for each sprint are called increments
These are the pillars of any Scrum framework. However, the framework itself is not rigid. For instance, a sprint backlog can evolve during the duration of a sprint itself, owing to changed market conditions, or client's requirements. Three key functions manage the pillars of Scrum. They are:
- Product owner: They have a keen understanding of the market, the business, and the client's requirements. They are responsible for managing the product backlog.
- Scrum master: They are experts of the Scrum process. They are responsible for optimizing the workflow, and helping the Scrum team maximize efficiency.
- Development team: This is the "doer" part of the Scrum framework. Scrum development teams are, typically, small in size, self-organizing, and have people with complementary skills.
Other Popular Frameworks Under Agile Development
In addition to Scrum, which is one of the most popular agile frameworks, some other common frameworks under this development methodology are:
It relies on visualization of workflow and is useful for identifying bottlenecks in a process. The Kanban framework is largely used in manufacturing.
Extreme programming (XP)
This framework relies on quick feedback loops and user stories to deliver high-quality software. It gets its name from the fact that it takes certain principles of traditional software engineering, such as code review, to an extreme.
Feature driven development (FDD)
By adopting a feature-centric approach, this framework is useful for maintaining control over the iterative nature of Agile in complex projects. It relies on the principle of 'just-enough-design-initially'(JEDI) to deliver working products to clients, quickly.
Some other commonly-used agile frameworks are lean, crystal, and dynamic systems development method (DSDM).