Agile Methodologies are a type of project management used for software development, focusing on breaking down the development process into smaller builds and using iterations/sprints, which are short development cycles. 

Agile Manifesto considers the following:

  • early customer involvement
  • iterative development
  • self-organizing teams
  • adaptation to change

Within the larger umbrella of Agile Methodologies, development teams can choose several approaches such as:

Agile Scrum Methodologies

Lean Software Development

Kanban

Feature-driven development

Extreme Programming… among others

Let’s explore the benefits of using Agile methodologies. 

  1. Timely delivery

Agile teams use the Scrum approach. Sprints (of usually 1-4 weeks) allow for scheduled software development. Agile iterative approach means short periods that deliver the right thing at the right time, where each team builds software incrementally. Design and testing are done simultaneously with the aim of decreased Time-To-Delivery. Teams deliver prioritised requirements first while streamlining overall delivery workflows to quicken the entire product development cycle. This methodology works better than the traditional waterfall system. It directly relies on working software instead of lengthy documentation.

  1. Predictable costs

Agile methodologies are designed to save costs. Cost estimating strategies are based on story points, a system that allows developers to predict the budget accurately. Only that needed is developed, including sprints, MVPs, and unit testing, so resources and time are not wasted. Project managers and middlemen are not required to be part of the team, thus saving additional expenses. Future sprints are based on previous learnings, leading to better planning; therefore, more cost-savings. 

  1. Transparency

Everything is clearly defined at the outset, so all teams are readily aligned. From inception to deployment, developers and project owners can monitor everything and give regular feedback to the application before and after each sprint to ensure all objectives are met. All stakeholders are updated through daily reports and tools to keep everyone on the same page. The transparent workflows allow for a controlled and monitored product development cycle. Project constraints and bottlenecks are addressed at early stages to allow for smoother deliveries.

  1. Productivity

A team’s performance can be measured by various tools and metrics like Lead Time, Cycle Time, Actual vs. Committed Stories, Planned-to-Done Ratios, Failed Deployment, Velocity, Sprint Burndown, etc. Every team member is focused on one task at a time, making them incredibly productive. Research done on 8000 projects has concluded that Agile teams are 25% more productive than their industry peers with 75% fewer defects (source: deltamatrix.com). Developers, designers, coders get to choose what they want to do instead of following the manager’s orders or hierarchical structures. Information and goals are not wrapped in silos, so software teams are more in tune with the final goals and their accountability in the process. This keeps them driven and focused.

  1. Improved quality

Quality is always assured by using Agile methodologies. Because testing is done at every sprint, the code is debugged, errors are corrected, and efficiency is always maintained. Because of multiple iterations, the team knows what works in every possible scenario. This gives them the time to perfect the product by the time it’s ready to be launched. QA is part of the Scrum team. However, every team member is held accountable for producing quality code. Teams should be wholly dedicated to Agile methodologies to ensure the highest quality. If sprints are shorter, the teams can be more productive and responsive. Fast information flow and communication give rise to optimum performance and quality. 

  1. Customer satisfaction/engagement

The first principle of Agile is customer satisfaction. Its manifesto says, “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” No matter how great the code is, if the customer is not satisfied, and features/functions don’t serve their purpose, the project is not considered as successful. Each sprint should deliver value. 

Agile prioritises people over processes, including internal stakeholders and customers who will use the final product/service. Customer feedback is embedded in the process to improve quality continuously. 

  1. Risk reduction

Risk management is done in practice throughout the product development cycle. Action plans are created once the risks are identified by the Scrum team. But the action plans are implemented and monitored continuously due to the default mode of iterations and corrections as well as overall project level. Risks are identified at broader levels at the start of the project. Top prioritised risks are analysed with checklists and mapped before the execution. 

  1. Team collaboration

Through Agile tools and practices, siloes are unlocked so that teams can work together without red tape and unnecessary obstructions. Daily communication problem-solving is part of Agile teams which are used to develop cross-functional skills and open channels for ideas. Agile teams are led by Scrum Master and Product Owner. Objectives are clearly defined for each individual and collaborative efforts are solidified by Stand-ups, Product Owner Check-ins, Visual Boards and multiple real-time tools.

  1. Adapting to changes quickly

Changes essential to business value are incorporated quickly and collectively, even at later stages of development. Agile teams understand that it’s a given that requirements will continuously evolve throughout the product development cycle. Flexibility is a great feature of agile methodologies since it is part of every sprint. As soon as deviations are noticed, a quick response is initiated, and adjustments are made. 

  1. Business ROI

Business value is always prioritised, along with the first principle of customer satisfaction. Development teams always have the product backlog to deliver the most functional, intermediate product in-time. Each iteration requires user feedback, so each sprint delivers value to the final result. Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the ROI by prioritising and re-prioritising the Product Backlog. Agile methodologies deliver faster and better ROI than traditional methods. 

Agile has been widely successful globally, but it comes with its own challenges like maintenance of collaboration, lack of documentation for new team members to catch up, lack of dedicated cross-functional teams, etc. Companies looking to move from waterfall methods/traditional approaches must consider the Agile approach after carefully weighing Agile’s pros and cons in the context of their organization’s particular needs, product/service, and customer needs.