Modern software development is usually created by two popular approaches. And if a more traditional and widely-spread Waterfall methodology is more familiar to people connected with IT sphere, Agile development methodology is innovative though incredibly productive and popular among IT companies. Let’s answer the most ambiguous questions on the Web: “What is Agile development” and “Why does it gain pace so quickly” by analyzing the main pros and cons of this approach.
Agile as a new philosophy in software development
To answer the question what differs Agile development methodology from other approaches to software development, let’s find out what Agile is. This new set of principles is based on cross-functional teams that are self-organized and work separately to create one productive result. The agile development life cycle of the product is the result of such procedures as:
- Unit testing;
- Acceptance testing.
Each of these functions is performed by a team within iterations, where each small increment is done in parallel. Later all the parts are united and software development agency receives a new product that can easily undergo alterations and improvements.
The basis of this model is Agile development scrum, a framework to manage product development. It is based on the empirical approach and focuses on the principle, where the customer can offer unpredictable changes in the product functionality and the team could adapt it to any requirements. All this was impossible to do through the use of any other approaches because changes could be made only after the delivery of a ready-made software. Agile does not follow any prescriptive methodologies, and that is why it can be called a philosophy with its own Manifesto of values followed by each member of all teams.
Every innovatory approach that appears usually has its benefits and drawbacks, and Agile development is not an exception. Evaluating both pros and cons of this methodology it will be obvious why some people leave a renowned Waterfall approach and opt for Agile and the others are not ready to trust it yet.
Agile development: unsurpassed pros
Many of the pros characterizing Agile development environment are stated in the Agile Manifesto, while the others one can be noticed only in the result of the performed work.
- Early delivery of software that takes from one to four weeks usually. You shouldn’t wait for deadlines to receive a fully functioning product, so it guarantees a faster deployment of the result to end-users and simultaneous improvements in future deployments.
- Possibility to make as many changes as a customer wishes at the stage of development. Such flexibility allows finding a solution that fits best the shareholders or organizations.
- Close cooperation between the customer and the developers on a daily basis.
- Creativity and the best possible solutions that emerge from team members and undergo constant improvement. The product is not limited by one software developer’s viewpoint.
- Regular adjustment and improvement of the team effectiveness.
- Acceptance of uncertainty at the initial stages of the product development. You do not have to “complete” a plan before starting designing and coding and it allows the product to develop with time.
- The absence of costly up-front work required by other models.
- Use of continuous feedback concept prevents agile developers from static plans and allows them to receive information from users and adjust configurations to provide them with an extra value received from the software.
- A fewer number of possible defects in the delivered product in comparison with other approaches. All the defects are detected within iterations and the continuous process of development.
Possible cons characterizing Agile software development
Despite the fact that this new approach has its own agile development tools and values it still has some disadvantages that may lead to problems during the workflow and influence the result.
- Avoidance of the detailed planning can be dubious and lead to the fact that the initial product will have nothing in common with the final one. All this can be detrimental for companies that make predictions with a degree of certainty.
- The flexibility to changes may be overestimated by some business representatives and seem endless, so it might be crucial to the success of the teamwork.
- The preparation process of each Agile development team member must be efficient as only highly-skilled and competent developers can fulfill some requirements in functionality.
- Lack of understanding and absence of desire to realize the fundamental concepts of this methodology result in failures and criticism.
- The inability of some corporate cultures to accept Agile assumptions and absence of predictable roadmap.
- Agile practice is aimed at small young organizations that deal with software as each team usually has from 5 to 9 members, while it is almost impossible to maintain a cohesive approach between several hundreds of developers that are usually hired by big companies.
- Complications may arise in infrastructure projects with hardware as flexibility is impossible with it and any changes require the development of a new product.
- A number of possible configurations of the same product can make it difficult to justify their value and multiple versions may lead to creating garbage configs.
Agile development model does have a variety of clear benefits that seem unrivaled comparing with other approaches, but the fact is that agile does not suit some companies because of hardware limitations, implementation requirements, technical resources or prospective issues. Consequently, it is important to evaluate all the pros and cons before trying to use or order a product created according to one or another approach.