What are the reasons behind Agile popularity?

Agile was first launched in 2001. Agile is a different methodology of software development that comprises various approaches under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of team collaboration, continual planning, and continual learning. Implementing Agile enables teams to deliver the product faster with enhanced quality and predictability, and flexibility to respond to change.

Agile methodology’s popularity can be attributed to every organization jumping on the Agile transformation bandwagon to develop software or a version of it. Today your work is at least influenced by the Agile methodology if you learned software development decades ago using the waterfall software development methodology. Before jumping to the final product, Agile focuses on keeping the process lean and creating minimum viable products (MVPs) that go through several iterations. In this, agile technology everyone is working together towards a single goal defined.

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What is Agile Development?

Before understanding why Agile is so popular, we should understand what is Agile and how it is different from the Waterfall methodology. 

Agile was first launched with four major principles to produce better results:

  • Software working over comprehensive documentation
  • Individual interactions over processes and tools
  • Continuous collaboration with the customers over changes in requirement
  • Responding to change over following a plan, whenever required

Before Agile, the Waterfall methodology was the gold standard for software development. Developing any software product, required a ton of documentation before coding even began. Business analysts prepared the requirements documentation, technical department then prepared their technical requirement documentation from it. Then coding and testing come to the floor. This whole process takes months or even years in this waterfall method.

Now, if the customer requires any change, the process will take a long time because the product is developed through a designed process that includes technical structure, lower-level artifacts, and dependent artifacts afterward.

Agile Software Development is a faster way to develop any software. It is a people and result-focused methodology. It’s flexible and easy to improve the quality using tools like Scrum and Extreme Programming. Unlike the waterfall process of “plan, design, build, test, deliver”, the Agile methodology works on the principle of fast and incremental way.

As an example, Netherlands’ National Art Museum built public affinity using Agile methodology. The Rijksmuseum was completed in 1885 and it is the oldest museum in Netherland. With the help of Agile methodology, the Dutch government along with private donors restored the glory of the oldest museum and opened it to the public in 2013.

Agile methodology overcomes the risk of spending a lot of time if there are any changes required. It allows teams to work directly with clients, instead of working with other teams. This provides a clear outcome with a focused goal and in an incremental way.

Organizations found Agile more useful than the waterfall method from various perspectives. Apart from the IT industry, Agile is also popular in the manufacturing, FMCG, and automobile industries.

Here are Some Crucial Benefits of Agile Methodology:

Agile is Faster and Smaller

Other software development methods focus on the pre-designed process of knowing the requirements of customers, planning the development, designing the software, building the product, testing, and end result delivery. This takes a couple of months or years even. But Agile focuses on deploying the first progress in a couple of weeks or the entire piece of software in a couple of months.

The Agile Methodology Focuses on Customer and Result

With Agile best practices incorporated across the enterprise, they will deliver quality products to the clients on time to make them happy. Happy customers are the main reason for the popularity of Agile. In the Agile process, customers are involved in the whole process so that they can get updates on their products and make sure that they are meeting their requirements.

Multiple Agile Methodologies can be Used

Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming (XP), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Lean Software Development (LSD), and Crystal are the methods of Agile software development. The most popular Agile practices used are Scrum and eXtreme Programming (XP).

Agile Enhances Productivity

Agile is aimed to enhance productivity and therefore, it creates a specific culture to be focused on productivity. The transparent nature of Agile has made it easy for the teams to have a clear understanding of its iteration’s goal.

A Critical Method in Agile: INVEST

Another crucial factor in Agile’s productivity is INVEST. It’s an acronym for a checklist. Let’s elaborate on this.

Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small stories, and Testable

Agile is Trustworthy

Agile teams are self-organizing and they create their own path rather than following a manifesto of rules. They are clear about their goals and work on them.

Relevant Statistics

“The State of Agile report” in April 2018 was the longest-running report on agile. The report had discovered:

  • 46% chose the agile method because of the enhanced software quality.
  • 49% stated that an improved business was their main reason.
  • 55% listed “increased productivity” as their primary reason.
  • 64% said that the enhanced ability to manage changing priorities is what made them choose agile.
  • 75% of companies said that accelerated software delivery is their priority for adopting agile.
  • The most surprising fact is that 17% of companies chose the agile method to improve the management of distributed teams.

Where to Use Agile?

Agile methodology is mainly used for software development. Organizations found it very beneficial for their ROI and productivity. Agile is easily adaptable and can incorporate frequent changes. As we saw above, Agile offers various advantages to organizations such as lower defect rates, increased customer satisfaction, and faster development times. These advantages help organizations to serve better results to the customers.

Further, if we talk about the global economy, they are relevant. In the present economy globalization and free marketing, philosophy is affecting the perceptions of the customers in raising expectations to deliver products and/or services cheaper, faster, and better.

Some more examples where Agile was used are:

  • The innovation of Lonely Planet accelerates by adopting Agile and lean practices.
  • NPR or the National Public Radio uses Agile methodologies to create programming at a ? cost advantage.
  • Mission Bell Winery sees multi-fold improvement in productivity with the Agile and Scrum method.

These are just a few examples of Agile in other industries. Whereas, almost any business can adopt and implement the core principles of Agile for their organizations.

How Agile is Different?

We have already discussed some benefits of the Agile methodology. Here we will take a look at the quick difference between the Agile and waterfall method.

Agile Vs. Waterfall

Agile Method Waterfall Method
Agile follows an incremental approach. The Waterfall is a sequential design process.
Agile is known for its flexibility. Therefore, changes can be made after their initial planning is completed also. Waterfall doesn’t allow any changes once the development process starts.
Testing is performed in agile concurrently with the development. Testing should be done only in the testing phase.
Prefers a focused work culture with a high degree of coordination and synchronization. Waterfall does not focus on team coordination and synchronization.
In the Agile methodology, requirements are expected to change and evolve. Waterfall works with definite requirements and changes not at all expected.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have discussed the Agile methodology and its benefits over other methods with the reasons why Agile is popular. Statistics have proved that Agile is more beneficial for organizations.

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Billie Keita is known for her exemplary skills in implementing project management methodologies and best practices for business critical projects. She possesses 10+ years of experience in handling complex software development projects across Europe and African region. She also conducts many webinars and podcasts where she talks about her own experiences in implementing Agile techniques. She is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)®, and has published many articles across various websites.

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