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Although Agile programming as a methodology has been around for 16 years, it is far from a cookie-cutter approach to innovative software development. Agile is an iterative, incremental, team-centered approach that improves the speed and efficiency of each software project undertaken.
However, given that Agile should be tailored to the unique needs of each organization, how well will it work for you?
Across all modes of implementation, there are seven key benefits of Agile programming you should be aware of as you’re making a decision for your own team.
A broken collaboration ecosystem between team members can have devastating effects on a project -- diminished productivity, eroded work ethic, and a final product that falls short of stated goals are a few examples.
Agile programming eliminates these common setbacks by allowing teams to plan ahead and stay flexible throughout the development cycle. Developers, customers, and product managers work together so questions about requirements can be addressed immediately along with any knowledge transfer needed in order to execute the project.
2. Organizational Efficiency
The core of Agile is much more than just strategy and operations. Its principles of adapting fluidly to ever-evolving projects expand beyond the boundaries of the technology itself and seep into company culture.
Agile fosters deeper collaboration, continuous innovation, and even increased profits.
In an interview with Tech Target, PayPal's Tech VP Kirsten Wolberg shared how the company initially struggled to integrate Agile and waterfall methodologies; teams working in waterfall could not keep up.
"Given how quickly we wanted to move and given how responsive we needed to be, the waterfall methodology was breaking down. Our teams that were working in Agile were relying on other teams that were working in waterfall, and the handoffs just weren't happening," Wolberg said.
But after moving fully to Agile, PayPal saw an astounding 340 percent boost in revenue.
Of course, Agile is an umbrella term that covers several development processes with unique capabilities. It is critical teams recognize their specific needs and choose the elements that can best meet those needs.
3. It’s Not One-Size-Fits-All
The intention behind Agile programming is flexibility. After all, the very nature of development projects is they are in constant flux, changing, and improving over time, with many moving parts.
Designed to accommodate this reality, Agile is tailored to each team's individual needs and evolves alongside them over time. As companies continue to jump on board with Agile, it becomes more dimensional.
Agile is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of development in many companies -- and with that comes a new mindset.
4. A Pro-Change Mindset
Agile is always pushing the boundaries of its definition. Once it is implemented across a team -- or set of teams -- an Agile mindset becomes embedded into daily workplace culture, making it difficult to slip back into old patterns of inefficiency and poor communication.
You need to be certain your company is prepared for this pivot in mindset -- not only a shift toward better product development. You should also be ready to adopt flexibility and collaboration into your organization’s core values.
While this is one of the most valuable aspects of Agile, it is important to understand a resistance to or lack of understanding of this change can prevent effective implementation of Agile.
5. Flexibility at Its Core
At the heart of Agile's value is its unmatched flexibility -- a key asset for any development team -- as it will empower your team to recognize the unknown elements of a project and plan accordingly. Even if things don't go as planned, you are still free to change midway through the project without an excessive amount of risk.
So, what exactly is flexibility when working in Agile?
When answering this question, several factors may be considered. For one, time flexibility is an asset. If a product needs to be completed within a certain time frame or budget, teams can carefully plan ahead to ensure the deadline is met. In addition, the scope of a project may change to include more or fewer features.
Teams may release their minimum viable product (MVP) and quickly discover what additions and fixes must be made through user feedback. This can prevent teams from wasting time that would have otherwise been spent on features your users may not actually require.
6. Cost Effective
Most organizations make decisions regarding their approach with their own bottom line in mind. What makes Agile so cost-effective is its ability to minimize waste and reduce time spent reworking specific issues. Analysis, designing, coding, and testing can all take place within a two-week sprint.
This is a radical shift down from waterfall timelines -- which could often extend several months or even years. Quick development timelines ensure the market for your product still exists, and you will not have missed a window of opportunity.
Finally, there is the last question on every skeptic's mind: “Is Agile reliable?”
The answer is yes. With quicker turnaround times for projects, teams also have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes faster. As teams practice Agile methodology, they grow together and integrate feedback as a cohesive unit.
As the software market grows more competitive and fast-paced, you simply don't have the option to leave time and money on the table. Agile programming may not be the path of least resistance, but it is the path forward to efficiency.
Holding on to older, slower methodologies may not be noticeably detrimental now, but you will inevitably fall behind teams that are using Agile to increase productivity.
For a Fortune 100 media firm, predicting viewership was crucial to revenue -- so they turned to Stride to rapidly prototype a solution using Agile programming. Read the full success story.
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Posted February 12, 2016