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What is Agile? The Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile

With a majority of Fortune 500 Companies shifting towards an Agile approach in their workflow, Agile is becoming popular, not only in software companies but also in other industries. 

Agile is highly preferred in software product development due to an incremental approach, where the entire product development is executed incrementally to ensure customer requirements are met and each deliverable is standardized. 

With a success rate of 64%, as compared to the waterfall approach which has a success rate of 14%, Agile has quite hit the mainstream as a key component in software management. 

However, the Agile approach comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will take an in-depth approach to understanding Agile.

We will first understand what Agile stands for and how it contributes to a steady development of a project. Then we will look into what are the pros and cons of Agile to have a better understanding. 

What is Agile?

Flow

As mentioned by Jim Highsmith, “Agile is principally about mindset, not practices”, an Agile approach aims at providing maximum value to the customer through timely planning, iterations, evaluation, and execution of the project. Agile brings an incremental and iterative software development approach to product development.
Agile teams are smaller and work based on continuous collaboration with team members and stakeholders. The entire product is divided into smaller chunks to deliver the value incrementally.

An Agile project works in alignment with the principles and values mentioned in the “Agile Manifesto for Software Development”. It was created by 17 leaders, the Agile manifesto consists of 4 values and 12 principles. These act as a guide for software developers who follow the Agile way of working. 

Let’s take a look at the four values in the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and Interactions are to be prioritized over processes and tools
  • Working software to be preferred over comprehensive modes of documentation
  • Maximum engagement of client over contract negotiation
  • Responding to changes and scheduled time frames over following a robust plan

The development of an Agile product revolves around these values. It is subjected to multiple iterations and changes, which prolongs the life cycle of the project, but the outcome meets customer expectations and checks all quality standards. 

With each release being tested thoroughly throughout the product development right from requirements to release, the Agile approach works on the agenda that each release would be subjected to continuous improvement, where changes are adapted quickly and responsively. These changes are implemented throughout the lifecycle of the project, as and when required.

Now that we have a brief overview of what Agile stands for and how an Agile project is brought to fruition, let’s look into the several advantages and disadvantages of Agile:

Advantages of Agile

While it’s no surprise that due to the high success rates, every IT company switches to Agile, the Agile approach has also increased the productivity of Agile teams considerably. Let’s look into the advantages of being Agile:

  • Promotes customer satisfaction by delivering software products frequently.
  • Agile product development exhibits faster turnaround times due to quick response and faster adaptation to changes. 
  • Helps validate new ideas in the market quickly through incremental software development
  • Continuous interaction between customers, users, and developers eliminates possible errors and fosters innovation and integrity. 
  • Reduces risk factors to a great extent as the early deliverables are transparent to end-users.
  • Brings in ownership and decentralized culture to the team due to the team driving the product development right from requirements to release to the customer.
  • Dividing the product into smaller chunks helps the Agile team to focus on the quality of the product.

Disadvantages of Agile 

There are no disadvantages to agile product development. Agile helps build complex products incrementally and iteratively. However, it can be challenging for a few organizations, primarily due to their organizational inabilities/inefficiencies.

Here are a few challenges that Agile brings in due to organizational inefficiencies.

  • Agile demands continuous interaction between customers, users, and developers. Hence product development can get sidetracked if the customer is not continuously engaged.
  • Agile demands automation to help develop products in a short period. Without Automation, agile product development is going to be very challenging.
  • Agile software development thinking is very challenging for silo-ed teams like front-end teams, back-end teams, testing teams, etc. It demands the team to be cross-functional and work together every moment during product development.
  • Agile product development is very challenging when the leaders of the organization are waterfall believers. This will create confusion between team members and leaders on how to approach product development.

To conclude, as we understand the benefits of Agile, it is important to know that Agile has a systematic and incremental approach. An Agile model presents itself as a learning curve for any Agile expert working on their product development.

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