Agile is an iterative approach to software development where the development team incrementally builds and delivers software instead of delivering it all at once at the end. Unlike the traditional waterfall model, Agile also involves continuous evaluation of requirements, plans, and results.
A detailed comparison of agile versus waterfall can be found here.
Each agile iteration happens within a period that is typically one to four weeks long. During an iteration, the team chooses essential user stories from the client and builds them as functional software. This process is illustrated below:
It is important to remember that agile is a methodology – it does not lay out specifics for the length of an iteration or the size of the team. Instead, these details are specified by development techniques based on agile like Scrum, Kanban, and XP.
Stakeholders as part of the process: Due to frequent consultations, there is a high degree of collaboration between the development team and the client after every sprint. Such collaboration fosters better understanding between both parties. In Agile, the stakeholders are a significant part of the software development team.
Transparency and incorporating changing requirements: The cordial nature between client and developer allows the client to inspect the work being done to make sure that development is going according to plan. This way, if the working software does not satisfy the client’s needs, changes can be incorporated more easily than they would be if they were incorporated after a full, final release.
Predictability: Since each sprint is of limited duration, costs are easily predicted, which makes financial planning for the entire project much easier.
Improves Quality: The concept of iterative development inculcates a trial-and-error mindset in the development team, where defects are detected early on and removed as quickly as possible. As a result, each iteration produces a higher quality product than the iteration before.
Working software over overly-detailed documentation: The prime measure of success in agile is working software. This removes the rigid processes of lengthy documentation which is often difficult for clients to comprehend. However, this does not mean that documentation is not required in agile; it just means that it is not prioritized over working software.
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