Agile Methodology: Stages of Agile Software Development Cycle Explained
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Agile Software Development

Agile Methodology: Stages of Agile Software Development Cycle Explained

The fast-paced evolution of technology has made collaboration a key factor in ensuring the success of any software development project. The Agile methodology is one of the most widely used software development frameworks worldwide due to its simplicity and effectiveness. Most businesses implement the Agile methodology process to cater to users’ and clients’ growing needs for digital innovation.

What is Agile methodology and its background?

In 2001, 17 technologists launched the Agile methodology framework to resolve the inadequacies of traditional software development methods. Agile methodology was based on the Agile Manifesto that gives primacy to people, interactions, customer collaboration, and responsiveness to change.

One traditional methodology that Agile countered was the Waterfall model, which has a linear approach to software development. The Waterfall model’s straightforward process presented challenges for organizations and clients, including its delayed testing period, non-adaptive constraints, and less focus on the user and client feedback in the middle of the project cycle.

Agile methodology is commonly used in software development, wherein an organization’s teams and clients tactically collaborate to come up with necessary solutions and requirements for a project.

Tasks in the whole software development project lifecycle are divided into phases called “sprints”. Each sprint has a specific duration and a set of deliverables, which are typically laid out by the clients based on their goals and business values. Since the Agile methodology process is adaptable to changes, incomplete deliverables in a sprint can be reorganized or reprioritized. These incomplete deliverables are also noted and taken into account in future sprints.

Agile’s approach to a software development life cycle is iterative, results-focused, and team-oriented. It is flexible, open to continuous planning and improvements, and aims for the early delivery of an application with complete functionalities. Throughout the process, development and testing activities are performed concurrently. If your business is planning to invest in custom software development, it is worth looking at if the Agile methodology is the right project management process for you.


Roles in Agile methodology

Different kinds of Agile methodology may require specific team roles. But generally speaking, the following are the most common Agile roles:


Scrum Master

The scrum master oversees the whole software development project. He/she ensures that each sprint is on track and also helps resolve any issues that may come up at any stage of the project cycle.


Project Owner

The project owner serves as the voice of customers and other stakeholders. He/she defines the goals of each sprint, as well as manages any team backlogs.


Team Members

Teams are crucial in the Agile methodology process. Each team is composed of members who execute the deliverables in sprints. The teams can have members with various strengths and specialties, or members with the same job functions.


Stakeholders

Stakeholders have an informational role in the project cycle. They are informed about the progress of sprints. Because the Agile methodology values feedback, stakeholders have the opportunity to review and approve outcomes as applications are being developed. They can also participate during the sprint retrospective.


Agile methodology process

The common stages in the Agile methodology process are the following:


Plan the whole project cycle

Before deep-diving into the software development process itself, you should understand the client’s background, and how their goals can be achieved. Planning all the project’s details in the early stage will help determine initial environments, requirements, and the team members to be placed in each sprint.


Create a product roadmap

At this stage, the features of the final application or product are discussed. These features will be divided and assigned to the sprints.


Set a release plan

Teams have to work together to come up with a plan for feature releases. Before the beginning of each sprint, you will have to revisit and reassess the release plan for a specific feature.

Conduct sprint planning

At this stage, stakeholders conduct meetings to set the tasks to be completed by each person during a sprint, how it can be achieved, and determine the exact task load. To better monitor the sprints, daily stand up meetings can also be done.

Conduct a sprint review and retrospective

Two meetings should be conducted at the end of each sprint. The first is for a sprint review with the stakeholders, wherein they can see the finished product. The second meeting is to discuss the accomplishments and challenges faced during each sprint.

Examples of Agile methodology

There are many kinds of Agile methodologies that present various ways on how to approach the software development cycle. Choosing the right one for your project would depend on your organization’s capabilities and the clients' goals and requirements.


Scrum

Scrum focuses on how to manage and perform tasks in a team-based environment. This method typically works in small teams (with about 7 to 9 members) and has three main roles: the Scrum master, product owners, and Scrum teams. In this method, small 15-minute meetings, or the daily scrum, are held to synchronize activities and establish the most effective plan for the day.


Kanban

This Agile method is based on a Japanese time concept. It centers on communication and transparency so that team members are always updated on the progress of the project. Kanban utilizes a board or table, called Kanban board, which is divided into columns and shows all workflows of the software development project.


Extreme Programming (XP)

Since XP gives primacy to teamwork and customer satisfaction, it lets developers implement changes in any stage of the project cycle based on the client’s request. In short development cycles, it also conducts frequent releases. This strategy is useful in improving productivity and ensuring that the product would satisfy the client’s needs. XP has the common following stages: planning, analysis, design, execution, wrapping, and closure.


Lean Development

The Lean Development methodology was derived from Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing process, which was eventually applied to software development. This method relies on seven important principles including the elimination of unnecessary things, quality development, knowledge creation, differing commitments, quick delivery, team respect, and optimization of the entire process.


Crystal

The Crystal methodology has many variants to choose from. Each variant differs in the number of team members: Crystal Clear (up to 8 members); Crystal Yellow (10-20 members); Crystal Orange (20-50 members); and Crystal Red (50-1000 members). The central focus of Crystal is interaction and symbiosis, which values the contributions of all individuals involved in the project. Crystal allows efficient workflows between the different teams.


Benefits of using Agile methodology

The Agile software development methodology is beneficial for both your organization and your clients. Its flexibility, openness, and predictable set-up guarantee quality results. It presents a unique opportunity for clients to be involved in the process, allowing teams and other stakeholders to identify problems and solve them together. Each methodology also determines product features for specific users, thus, ensuring that the final software application is perfectly fit to the client’s values and goals. Finally, Agile methodology strategically divides teams and tasks, improving cooperation and productivity.


Why consider using Agile methodology

Applying the Agile methodology process in managing your software development projects will not only build and maintain good client relations. It will also improve your teams’ workflows, resilience, and creativity - ultimately leading to quality and innovative results.