Agile is an interactive, iterative, and incremental project management methodology at its core. The process is based on helping companies, and teams work effectively in an ever-changing environment while delivering business value as quickly as possible.
Agile project management methodologies (Scrum, XP, Kanban, and others) follow an agile manifesto to achieve continuous improvement, agility, team contribution, and high-quality results. Here, we will take a look at the benefits of Agile for custom application development.
Agile versus traditional development
Before we get into what Agile is, let's first look at the differences and benefits of Agile project management compared to traditional management and development.
When we say 'traditional management, we mean a waterfall model or, more simply, a waterfall method. Unlike Agile - mainly because it's not as flexible and iterative - the waterfall is a step-by-step process in which progress can be seen at different stages. It is a sequential model that typically begins with design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. The image below demonstrates the difference in value between the two methodologies. Among the distinct advantages of Agile is that it provides visibility, adaptability, and buy at the beginning of the process and significantly reduces risk as the project progresses.
Unlike traditional methods, the agile approach is more customer-centric. For example, throughout the Agile lifecycle, user participation is encouraged, providing visibility and transparency by showing the actual progress of projects.
The Agile method involves short iterative planning, making it easy to adapt the strategy as requirements change. This ongoing planning and feedback throughout the process are invaluable for project management. And when combined with a collaborative software development model in the near-field, Agile can be much more cost-effective.
Again, the idea is to create value for the business early by making it easier to mitigate development risks.
The six benefits of Agile project management are:
- Versatile control over your product
The idea of Agile development is that you can control everything at any stage of the implementation or development cycle. This means that during the product validation phase of any of these cycles, Agile allows you to monitor quality, make necessary adjustments, and produce a finished product with minimal errors. In terms of quality, you can also get the following benefits:
- Development of requirements so that product features are accurate and up-to-date.
- Continuous integration into the development process allows solving problems as they arise.
Using automated testing tools.
Conducting sprint retrospectives allows the scrum team to improve processes and work continually.
Software is developed in rapid gradual cycles. This results in minor incremental releases, each based on previous functionality. Each release is then thoroughly tested to ensure that the quality of the software is maintained.
- Getting a higher level of customer satisfaction
The Agile methodology allows the product owner to be constantly involved in the development process, including adjustments, bug fixes, and further cycles. Thus, the product development process and its results are visible to both the customer and the development team. In this way, you will achieve:
- Demonstrated progress and results to customers in every sprint review.
- Fast and timely delivery of products into the market.
- Early access to the product throughout its lifecycle.
- Focusing on the most vital metrics
Companies that use traditional methods often produce lower-quality products than agile systems. Moreover, they tend to spend more, both in terms of resources and time. With Agile, you can set project timelines and budgets, given the skills and capabilities of your development team. Your development team will provide labor estimates according to project requirements. Later on, using these relative estimates rather than hours or days, you can align approximate labor costs with the knowledge and capabilities of your development team.
- Minimizing the risks
One of the key benefits of Agile is flexibility; it allows you to reduce the likelihood of a project failing to zero virtually. Your project has a tangible result since the first sprint, and later it can be developed and built upon.
You can also customize your sprints to ensure a short window of time between the initial investment in the project and any potential failure or, similarly, the point at which you prove that the product/approach works.
- Getting a faster ROI
Long delivery cycles are often a challenge for businesses, especially in high-growth markets. Since Agile development is iterative, the features are delivered gradually, and the benefits are realized early while the product is still in development.
What's more, with Agile, you'll be able to release the product faster and assess customer reactions and make changes accordingly - staying one step ahead of the competition. And, as we mentioned earlier, the Agile approach allows you to focus on business value. By enabling the customer to prioritize features, the team understands what is most important to the customer's business and can deliver features in the most valuable and relevant order.
Challenges of using Agile
Of course, Agile is not a perfect system. Although, there are risks and challenges to consider:
- Additional training and skills may be required.
- Agile itself involves a lot of training and professional use to be successful.
- Most companies don't realize this, so they try to get things done quickly without extra effort.
- Unfortunately, projects often end up failing as a result.
- Organizational Transformation.
- Scalability. Implementing an Agile approach in large projects is often a complex and time-consuming undertaking.
The Agile approach may also require some organizational transformation to be successful. Business stakeholders must collaborate with the development team in a spirit of trust and partnership. This may mean breaking down specific administrative barriers that make it difficult or impossible.
Integration with project or program management.
Agile is not always appropriate for all projects, particularly when they require a certain level of predictability. Yet, there are many ways to create a mixture of Agile and more traditional planned methods and to determine the right Agile/Scrum proportion for a particular case.
Agile requires minimal planning to start a project, unlike the waterfall model. Any changes can be applied and features added or removed based on available feedback. As a result, the customer receives a finished product that exactly meets their requirements and needs.
Despite all the advantages of Agile, this approach will not solve all your project management problems.
Being a versatile tool, it can help you improve the quality of your services and products.
Agile can be helpful also in creating a customized management approach, blending a traditional style with a new, agile one. This will give you a more agile project management system to adjust your methods depending on the situation.
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