The Advantages Of Using Agile Development

advantages using agile development

Many decisions accompany software development. One of the most important decisions for developers may well be the first one they make: deciding what development methodology to use will dictate the way the development team works for the duration of the project. 

Several development methods are available.  Developers can go with spiral, scrum, or lean but most often, the choice comes down to agile versus waterfall. Should you go with the waterfall method where the project breaks down into regimented stages and each stage builds on the previous one? Or, should you go with agile where you take the project in timed stages known as sprints? 

Both methodologies will get the job done but each focuses on different aspects of the project and forces developers to approach the project in very different ways. Each method has benefits and drawbacks but, in many developers’ minds, agile offers more and more important advantages than waterfall. Here are a few of the advantages to using agile development. 

Client Involvement 

The foundation of agile development is based on creating fast feedback loops where software is delivered to the client at the end of every sprint so they can give feedback on the project. This keeps the client very involved in the project which generally ensures the end result will be something that leaves the client will satisfied with the return on investment. 

When using the waterfall method, the client doesn’t get to engage with the project until it is complete. This doesn’t inherently mean the product will be something that disappoints the client but it does increase the chances of that happening. 

Transparency 

In its guide to custom web application development, Liventus notes that better transparency is one of several advantages of an agile approach. Agile development values teamwork within the development group and, as mentioned above, client feedback throughout the process. This makes it key that everyone involved is transparent with their work and the functions they are developing. 

The waterfall approach is much more regimented. Every step is pre-determined and developers who are deeply involved in one stage may not be part of another.  This process removes transparency. The same is true on the client side. Parameters are given at the beginning of the project and the software is delivered at the end without the client seeing how the sausage is made. 

Risk Mitigation 

Software development can be an expensive, high-stakes process. If the end product doesn’t work as planned or the client isn’t happy, it can be a very expensive waste of time. To mitigate the risk that a client will be unhappy or the software won’t work, agile development works in short, few-week-long bursts and keeps the clients involved throughout. This makes it less likely the final product will be an abject failure. 

With the waterfall process, that risk goes up. Not involving the customer or testing different iterations throughout the process can lead to risky situations wherein the product isn’t what the client wanted. If waterfall-based developers have to go back to the drawing board, it will cost everyone much time and money. 

Agility 

It’s right there in the name. You can also call it adaptability or flexibility, but it all speaks to the same benefit. The agile methodology isn’t comprised of a stringent series of steps. It prioritizes what is important in short time windows, gets feedback from the client, and resets priorities for the next sprint. This allows developers to constantly pivot to meet the most important challenges. 

The process is the most important part of waterfall development. Making sure each step is done properly and that the next step builds on the last is the key here. With this style of development, there isn’t much room for changing course or reprioritizing. It is full steam ahead in one direction until the project is done. 

Speed 

In some specific types of cases waterfall is faster than agile development. These occurrences tend to be rare, though. The waterfall methodology offers a longer, set process that has to be fully completed for the project to be finished. Within the larger process, are seven distinct stages and you can’t start the next stage until the previous one is completed. This can take a very long time. 

With the agile approach, each sprint of the development process is generally within a two-week window. If the development is done at the end of the first sprint, great. If not, developers can add another sprint to finish certain deliverables or to make adjustments. After each new sprint, there exists a chance the project will be finished, making for a shorter development life cycle. 

User-Friendly Final Product 

The overall focus in agile development is the user. The process is agile, flexible and adaptable.  However, no matter how the job is done, all is done in the service of delivering a user-friendly, high-quality product. Continuous feedback from the client helps as well. The client may be the end-users themselves or, in cases that they are not, they should know the end-users well. For these reasons, products developed with the agile method simply turn out better for the user more often than not. 

Using the waterfall approach doesn’t necessarily mean that the final product won’t be good or even user-friendly but it does have a better chance of being subpar. In addition to not getting client or user feedback during the process, the waterfall method tends to get bogged down in the coding phase. This leads to a possible rush through the final stages to finish the project. This is where issues may arise that make the product less user-friendly. 

Agile Advantages Conclusion 

There are many advantages to agile development. This is why it is the most popular form of software development. In some cases, there are advantages to waterfall development. If you have a client that doesn’t want to be involved in the development process or if it's important to document every phase of a project, waterfall might be the way to go. In most cases, though, the benefits offered by an agile approach just make far more sense.

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services