Agile Development in Digital Transformation: The Basics

Agile development is a collection of methodologies that promotes collaboration across cross-functional teams.

In digital transformation, learning the principles and frameworks of agile development can lead to continuous innovation and better outcomes.

In this post, we’ll explore the basic concepts of agile methodology, including its core principles, common frameworks, comparison to the traditional waterfall model, and more.

Table of Contents

Core Principles of the Agile Methodology (Agile Manifesto)

The core principles of the agile methodology are detailed in the agile manifesto. It is comprised of four core values and 12 core principles. Let’s take a look at them below:

Core Values

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Core Principles

  1. Achieve customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software;
  2. Embrace change if it’s going to be to the benefit of customers, even late in development;
  3. Frequent delivery of software with a preference for shorter timescales;
  4. Daily collaboration between business people and developers throughout the project;
  5. Motivate and support individuals to grow by building projects around them and entrusting them with their competition;
  6. Recognize that face-to-face communication is the most effective method of conveying information to and within a development team;
  7. Measure progress by the amount of working software completed;
  8. Maintain a constant and sustainable pace of development indefinitely;
  9. Enhance agility through continuous attention to technical excellence and good design;
  10. It is essential to maximize the amount of work not done;
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and procedures emerge from self-organizing teams;
  12. Regularly reflect and adjust behavior for continual improvement.

Agile Model vs Waterfall Model

man describing agile model

Agile is considered the successor of the waterfall model, which is a more linear approach to project development.

With the waterfall methodology, the development of the software flows sequentially, with each stage of the process being dependent on the outcomes of the previous step.

The design process is not broken into smaller separate batches in the waterfall methodology, unlike agile.

The biggest issue with the waterfall model is that the creation process cannot be interrupted. The product can only be tested after the process is completed to detect any errors. Therefore, if issues are found, the process will have to start all over again. This is dissimilar to agile, where errors can be dealt with in the middle of the project.

Each individual batch is small enough to be completed efficiently and quickly, not holding back the rest of the project development. This significantly reduces the time needed for a process to be completed.

Generally, the agile methodology is preferred because it is more adaptable than the waterfall methodology. Moreover, agile’s time-saving qualities and practicality have proven more advantageous to companies.

The Top Frameworks of an Agile Approach

Let’s take a look at some of the top frameworks of the agile methodology.

Scrum Methodology

Scrum Methodology is the most commonly used agile framework. Its name comes from a rugby term used when the game needs to restart after a minor infraction. This is obviously a metaphor for agile’s collaborative element that allows one to go back to the creation phase when encountering new variables.

Kanban

Kanban specializes in workflow management, monitoring and improving performance. Its name is derived from the Japanese word for “card,” which relates to the digitized format of the software tool.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (XP) specializes in the more technical aspects of software development rather than the organizational ones. It produces high-quality software but also aims to make the entire process simpler.

Feature Driven Development Process (FDD)

A Feature Driven Development process (FDD) focuses on design and code inspection in smaller time cycles than any other framework. It manages status reporting on incremental developments, which helps monitor the project and the progress reporting to clients.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

Dynamic Systems Development Model (DMDM) offers added governance over the project delivery framework. Users need to be involved in the process and have the ability to make active decisions.

Benefits of Agile

Agile Software Development Business Internet Techology Concept

One of the best qualities of agile software development is collaboration. The agile methodology breaks down silos by having each individual unit within a business work with each other. This leads to knowledge sharing and greater transparency.

Moreover, when everyone has access to the same information, it increases efficiency and establishes alignment and accountability. A sense of autonomy is also created, as individuals can easily communicate their perspectives to collaborators, increasing motivation as well.

Another significant benefit is adaptability. As mentioned earlier, work is broken down into smaller parts, so several additions and adjustments can be implemented at any point in time, like customer feedback.

The agile model allows flexibility to pivot to new directions when needed, addressing market changes, modified customer needs, and other variables. This adjustability also does not create any backlog, so product delivery is not only on time but also of higher quality.

Lastly, risk reduction is also an advantage of the agile model. This is a consequence of the previous quality, adaptability.

Because the agile process allows for regular testing and adjustments, there is less risk for failure since the product can get optimized no matter what issue might surface along the way. The ability to course-correct is always available, so the risk is significantly reduced.

Downsides of Agile

Of course, agile software development is not perfect. You should be aware of a few downsides if you use this methodology.

There is an element of unpredictability with the agile methodology. Because there is a lack of a formal design, the end product might not always be known to the developers from the beginning.

Therefore, it is not always possible to accurately predict the final cost, the needed time and the resources that will be required. In this case, project sponsors will need to respect business requirements for an approximate budget and a deadline.

Another pitfall is that the agile model can also lead to a loss of focus. The constant recalibration of scope to deal with changes appropriately can create confusion for the developers, which is why the project’s original goals might be lost during the process.

Conclusion

Agile software development is the go-to approach for businesses today. It is a significant improvement to the waterfall model that could not keep us with the rapid changes and rapid application development in the field. While there are many benefits of the agile methodology, there are still some downsides that offer room for improvement.