Agile software development is seen as something of an upstart methodology by veterans of ICT projects. It is set in contrast to the traditional waterfall methodology whereby projects are planned by way of a sequence that starts with a definition and is then followed by a plan setting out development, testing and eventual deployment of software.
Agile eschews this rigorous mapped-out approach in favour of creating a piece of software through an iterative process based on feedback from users. This interaction starts early on and each stage of development is revisited throughout the project.
Will the maverick become the master?
Proponents of agile methodologies preach its approach as valuing “individuals and interactions over processes”, “end-user collaboration over contract negotiation” and being able to “respond to change over following a plan”. It is little wonder then that many businesses and organisations still see agile software methodology as a maverick approach to software development.
However, far from being the rare and daring option it once was, agile methodology is actually beginning to establish itself as a standard approach for software development in many industries. The documentation and the testing may look and feel very different to the more traditional waterfall approach, but for many of those organisations that have dared to be different, the end results have been worth the leap of faith.
The success of flexibility
Whereas the waterfall method cannot easily be diverted from its one-route trajectory, agile does what it says on the tin. It is adaptable and quick on its feet, able to change direction at a moment’s notice. As the world of business and the business of consuming has become more and more dynamic, the traditional development approach may struggle to keep up with ever-changing end-user demands.
By putting the end-user first, agile methodology sweeps away unnecessary project bureaucracy and gets straight to the heart of what really matters: how the software will work in practice for those who will actually be using it. Unlike the more traditional waterfall approach, agile methodology gives IT projects the flexibility to respond to end-user interaction at all stages of software development, by involving them in the process right from the beginning.
The comfort of certainty
There are good reasons why organisations have not all jumped on the agile bandwagon with unconstrained enthusiasm. For large or complex projects particularly, the temptation to have a more rigid software development plan is a security blanket that many large organisations are unwilling to lose grip of. This is entirely understandable - having budget and project certainty comes into it but so too does the risk of deploying untested software. Despite these reservations, many organisations are now seeing the benefit and financial savings that agile-style end-user involvement can bring. They are therefore willing to consider both approaches for different types of projects.
Rapid response to change
Dynamic businesses need to be able to adapt quickly if they are to continually evolve and businesses increasingly expect their technology departments to respond to rapid expect IT projects to be able to respond rapidly to change. That change is being driven by regulatory requirements, changing consumer behaviour and competition, and IT innovation. Agile software development is gradually being accepted as part of the solution for adapting to rapid change.
Therefore the demand for agile analysts, developers and project managers has never been higher. Highly skilled agile-specialists are becoming sought after in all business areas from analysts to project managers but, as ever, finding the right fit for your business is key to project success.
If you are looking to introduce the agile methodology in your IT department, contact us and we can help you to find an experienced agile specialist to work alongside your existing team.