The Agile methodology has become a very common practice in the programming world in recent years. Even if agile project management is sometimes a concern for some customers, it remains well established in the software development industry. When applied according to its requirements, the Agile methodology is truly an ally that will ensure the delivery of software that meets the customer’s needs and expectations.
First, it is important to recognize that a software development project is a complex process that must take several factors into account:
- The interpretation of the project ;
- Understanding the client’s domain;
- The interdependence of each of the components/code lines ;
- Communication between supplier and customer .
Neglecting one of these factors in the context of a software development project can be dramatic and can truly lead to failure. Managing projects with the Agile methodology makes it possible to take these factors into account during the realization of a mandate.
What does the Agile methodology eat in winter?
This concept is mainly used to manage the creation of software, web or traditional. This methodology proposes a structure called “modular” which allows to better adapt the evolution of the project according to the customer’s expectations. In fact, this concept facilitates the workflow process because it is structured by iteration. Unlike traditional project management (waterfall), the Agile methodology allows to reprioritize and modify tasks, while respecting the overall strategy of the mandate.
When we talk about iteration (sprint), it is the division of the development process into several stages. For each of these steps/iterations, the customer and the technology partner establish the functionalities to be developed according to the customer’s priorities. An iteration lasts an average of two weeks, which is evaluated according to the number and level of complexity of the functionalities to be developed. In other words, every two weeks, the client receives a new and improved version of the software with the addition of new functionalities until the end of the project.
This illustration, taken from the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), explains how a technological product evolves by iteration.
Unlike traditional project management, where the customer is involved only at the beginning and end of the project, the Agile methodology positions the customer at the heart of the project. The four values and twelve principles presented in the Agile Manifesto (source) help us understand why the role of the customer becomes the cornerstone of a successful project and helps us master the factors mentioned above.
Individuals and their interactions
The Agile methodology values the spirit of collaboration within the work team. In contrast to the traditional method, where team members work on their own, everyone works together to ensure that the delivered project really corresponds to the expectations of the client, who, let’s not forget, is at the heart of the project.
The Agile methodology brings together the strengths of each of the players involved in the iteration.
Software that works
For each of the iterations delivered, the customer can manipulate and test the developed functionalities. Contrary to the traditional method, where the customer can access the software only at the very end of its development, the Agile methodology ensures the proper interpretation of the project by having the customer’s comments and instructions during each of the planned and delivered iterations.
At the end of each iteration, it is planned to:
- Present final functionalities and deliverables
- Plan the next iteration
- Revision of the budget according to priorities and needs
The Agile methodology makes it possible to deploy the software to the customer during development rather than waiting until the very end, as the traditional method proposes.
Collaboration with clients
The client’s involvement throughout the mandate is the main element that defines the quality of a project. Not only does his presence promote a good understanding of the field in which the software will be used, but his collaboration also ensures optimal communication with the technological partner.
In Agile methodology, we no longer talk about a project but about a “product”.
Adapting to change
Another advantage of developing software by iteration is that the customer has the possibility to manipulate it in his environment during development, since only finished and usable features are delivered. This accessibility allows the client to evaluate, during the project, the efficiency of the software and, at the same time, to redefine, if necessary, the list of functionalities to be developed as well as their development priority.
Contrary to the traditional method, where the software specifications are fixed, the Agile methodology offers the customer the possibility to make the software evolve according to his wishes.
The advantages, in summary, of the Agile methodology:
- Better control of costs and schedules ;
- Partially completed product, which is potentially deliverable in each iteration ;
- Allows the project to progress at the client’s pace ;
- Fewer bugs because quality control is done at every iteration ;
- Better go-live of the product in its environment.
A company that opts for the development of a custom software or application invests significant amounts of money for this project. The person dedicated to the company, who manages this project, cannot afford to let a mandate of such magnitude be a failure for the company. The Agile methodology ensures better control by allowing the customer to have a right of control throughout the mandate.