Let’s take a moment to see why projects fail. Most projects fail because they are based on unrealistic expectations where the stakeholders may not have identified their requirements correctly. In addition, the software team may not understand what needs to be built or is unable to deliver it, or funding is withheld too long, causing the project to miss its deadline.
These are all problems that an Agile methodology can address.
What Is Agile Methodology?
An Agile software development process brings the customer to the table, not only in terms of feedback but also in decision making. The product owner, who reflects the voice of the customer, is empowered to make decisions about requirements and priorities with guidance from stakeholders. This results in a shared understanding of the requirements right from the beginning, which is especially valuable when considering new technologies.
The team’s focus on prioritizing requirements results in delivering business value quickly and incrementally with regular “checkpoints” that allow stakeholders to decide whether or not to continue funding. And because Agile processes are iterative, it allows for rapid changes that respond to business needs. This often reduces the need for large, expensive, and risky up-front requirements gathering efforts that cause many projects to miss their deadlines.
In a traditional software development process, it’s common for a group of stakeholders to meet once at the beginning of a project and provide a prioritized wish list of features they would like to see in the final product.
The software team then has several months for analysis, design, development, and testing before delivering their finished work on stakeholders’ agreed dates. However, even when using an Agile methodology, it’s still essential for project teams to have a plan or roadmap. Hence, everyone is clear on what the project is trying to accomplish.
Agile Methodology Benefits
1) Enhanced Communication
Agile processes foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork among all stakeholders, from senior management to testers. This leads to better product quality because everyone is working towards the same goals. Teams utilizing Agile methodologies typically create self-organized cross-functional teams where all team members work together daily. So each member is aware of the tasks completed by other team members and can offer help when needed.
2) Agile Provides A Better Return On Investment (ROI)
Most product releases using an Agile methodology result in a working product or “potentially shippable product increment” at the end of every iteration. This allows stakeholders to determine right away whether or not to continue funding, which often results in lower overhead costs and faster payback periods.
3) Improved Software Quality
Teams using Agile methodologies typically have better code quality because they continuously test their work as they go, reducing the need for expensive bug fixes down the road. Product quality is also improved because customers are more involved in reviewing and providing feedback about what they would like to see next.
4) Increased Performance Of Individuals & Teams
Agile methodologies work well with short timelines projects since the entire team is focused on completing tasks every iteration. This sense of urgency often results in more efficient use of the team’s time, which is especially beneficial for resource-constrained organizations.
Using an Agile methodology requires strong leadership skills to identify where process improvements need to be made and the authority to make those changes happen. Leaders who can successfully facilitate this type of change are rewarded with higher employee engagement, creativity, and improved teamwork.
Agile methodologies can be an excellent fit for many projects, including resource-constrained ones, resulting in product releases or a short timeline. This is especially true if the final product will require frequent updates and evolving requirements. While agile works well with projects with shorter timelines, it’s also possible to apply iterative methodologies to longer projects by breaking them down into smaller deliverables.
The success of an Agile project often depends on a strong commitment from leadership and a willingness to make initial process changes that may disrupt the current way of doing business. However, once these processes are implemented successfully, Agile methodologies can provide many benefits, including faster time-to-market, increased employee engagement and organizational agility.