What is agile development and how can it benefit your SMB? Agile processes started in the software development world, but the philosophy now extends beyond that to helping enterprises take a more flexible approach to organizing teams and delivering products and services. Agile processes help businesses:
- Respond quickly to changes in the market
- Develop and release products and services quickly
- Focus on the parts of the product or service that really matter to users.
This applies not only within IT and technology departments, but also across an organization.
Features to Note
Two noteworthy features of agile processes, compared with other typical IT development methods such as the waterfall method, are:
- That the planning phase for products is much shorter
- That there is relatively little documentation
In other words, the focus is on cutting down on the bureaucracy to produce and distribute a functional product rather than on getting every detail perfect. These priorities come from the Agile Manifesto, a document created by developers seeking to change the normal software development cycle. According to the document, agile processes are about:
- “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
- “Working software over comprehensive documentation”
- “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”
- “Responding to change over following a plan”
Agile vs. Waterfall Processes
In a waterfall development process, teams could spend several months recording and analyzing requirements, designing a system, and responding to customer changes before implementation. Any change at the implementation stage could start the process again.
So how is agile development different? Agile processes take a different approach, using a cycle of planning, testing, integration, and development. There are many agile development frameworks, including Scrum, Lean Development, and Extreme Programming, but they all work this way.
Agile processes also take a different approach to teamwork. Project managers don’t control teams. Instead, they keep communication flowing smoothly between development teams and clients. With agile, teams run themselves and are able to make more decisions than with a waterfall development process. That means setting internal deadlines to meet the major project milestones.
The Benefits of Communication
With an agile process, it is important to communicate regularly with the client for whom the team is developing the product. Early meetings set priorities and milestones. Regular testing and feedback enable quick development of a workable product. This process lets project teams respond quickly to change and is more likely to keep customers happy.
For SMBs, an agile approach results in clear benefits. Since clients get products that meet their needs on a rapid cycle, it improves customer relations. And quick release of workable products also has a positive effect on the company’s business agility, competitive position, and revenue. Simply put, agile development is smarter business.
Image: Juan lacruz