8 Benefits of Agile Software Development That’ll Enhance Your Next Project

If you’re wondering what to use for your next product development, check out this list of 8 Agile software development benefits to make your decision.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran

05/30/2022

Agile software development continues to rise in popularity year after year. Every new software development company seems to be using it—but why? Agile can transform your business and improve your delivery time and product quality. 

From stakeholder engagement to crafting quality products with the end-user in mind, the list of Agile software development benefits is extensive. But Agile isn’t perfect, and ignoring those challenges could make your next project go south. 

In this article, we’ll share a list of Agile software development benefits, challenges, and solutions, for you to decide whether or not Agile is the right solution for your development project.

Table of contents 

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What is Agile software development?

Agile software development is a way to do project planning, develop code, and review work in predefined and iterative increments. But Agile is much more than a work methodology, it’s a mindset. 

This methodology follows the Agile software development lifecycle that represents a cyclic way of working. This lifecycle illustrates a series of steps a project goes through from start to finish. It consists of six phases: concept, inception, iteration, release, maintenance, and retirement. Once it’s finished, the cycle starts again in the following sprint.

Agile software development is focused on meeting goals. That’s why it has its own set of metrics that allow Agile teams to keep track of work and issues. Agile software development metrics usually answer one of these four questions: How much? How fast? How good? How Happy?

Agile metrics should answer at least one of four questions relating to: budget, performance, quality, and productivity.

How does Agile software development work?

Agile works by dividing large projects into smaller, digestible chunks of work, so that everyone can focus on delivering high-quality work in a short period. Here are four Agile software development frameworks to help approach each project: 

  • Scrum. Divides work in 1-4 week “sprints.” This allows teams to focus on those sprint goals and remain flexible and effective. 

  • Kanban. Makes work visual by adding the right tags to the tasks: backlog/to-do, in progress, in review, completed. 

  • Lean. Invites users to find ways to optimize workflows, find learning opportunities, and reduce waste (whether that’s wasted time, money, or resources). 

  • Scalable Agile Framework (SAFe). Makes Agile scalable for enterprise-level companies. It’s built on three pillars: Team, Program, and Portfolio.

Whichever framework you choose to follow, once you start to incorporate Agile in your professional projects, you’ll find it useful in most areas of your life. At NaNLABS, we specialize in helping our clients with Scrum, Kanban, Lean or SAFe frameworks, depending on their preference and compatibility. 

What are the main Agile software development benefits?

Agile software development has many advantages to ensure your team is working in small work increments, towards goals, and iterating and reviewing that work. Some of the most common benefits are:

1. Transparency and stakeholder engagement

Agile software development invites clients to be involved and on top of the development project. This level of transparency creates a healthy collaborative environment between clients and the software provider that results in stakeholder engagement. 

2. Faster problem-solving

Agile’s iterative approach allows teams to spot issues throughout the development process and come up with timely solutions. So, if you’re working with an augmented software development team like NaNLABS, and you need to launch new features fast, using Agile methodologies allows you to develop new features in sprints of 1-4 weeks. 

3. Improved team effectiveness

Agile project management invites everyone to keep track of certain metrics like cycle time, team velocity, and sprint burndowns. Those metrics allow project managers to estimate project length, budget, and team effectiveness accurately.

4. Increased business value

Agile opens up a continuous line of communication between the client and the developer team. This ensures that everyone understands what value means within the scope of the project and how to work towards increasing it.

5. User-focused

Agile makes sure that solutions are useful for end-users. Developers should have a thorough understanding of who the user is and what their needs are. After each delivery, they may run a beta test to gather feedback from real users. Then, they iterate on it to ensure customer satisfaction.

6. Improved quality

If you adopt an Agile mindset, the quality of the final product will be higher than with traditional methodologies. Embracing change, focusing on continuous improvement, prioritizing, and having the end-user in mind create effective solutions.

7. Iterative feedback and improvements

Following an Agile approach, clients' and users’ feedback is welcome and taken into consideration. Therefore, improvements will be made timely and will improve the quality of the final product.

8. Improved team morale

By keeping transparent communication and having constant team meetings to ensure everyone is involved, team members and clients know that their opinions are valued. Therefore, they’re more engaged and happy to work on projects where their ideas are heard. 

What are the main Agile software development challenges?

Having a true Agile soul means accepting that this methodology isn’t perfect and it’s not for every business. In fact, even key Agile benefits can be drawbacks if not handled properly. Some of the most common challenges when it comes to working with Agile methodologies are:

1. Steep learning curve

Implementing Agile from scratch can cause team members to have an increase in their workload. Since Agile is much more than a work methodology, it needs to be injected into the company culture for it to work and the learning curve can be steep and tedious. 

A good solution is to work with a company like NaNLABS that offers an augmented team to work as an extension of your business. NaNLABS will bring the Agile method and development capabilities, and adapt to your culture and processes to ensure a smooth relationship. 

2. Tracking work and resources can become exhausting

The key to having a good estimation and execution of stories is to have them well defined. And for that to happen, project managers need team members to keep proper and consistent track of their work. But doing so can be exhausting and team members tend to forget at the beginning. 

A good way of streamlining this process is by using an Agile software development tool like ClickUp that allows you to track tasks and the time spent working on them in the same place. That way users can see their pending tasks and track time which will help you make accurate estimations without too much trouble.

3. Meeting overload

Agile’s iterative culture is what makes the methodology so great, but also it can cause team members to end up with packed calendars.

There are many routines and milestones defined in the Agile methodology, and some teams make the mistake of implementing them all. Without a clear goal or guidance, all the extra meetings end up being unproductive and can be a source of frustration for busy teams. 

Avoid meeting overload by having transparent communication with your team where everyone is empowered and feels comfortable to point out when a meeting is no longer useful. Also using async communication, like Slack messages or Loom videos, is a good way of reducing certain unnecessary meetings. 

4. Lack of definition

Unlike other traditional project methodologies like the Waterfall model, Agile’s definition stage is not as complete. With Agile, there’s a definition phase in each sprint that’s focused on the value that’s going to be delivered by the end of that sprint. Some users believe that it’s not enough and it causes the team to rework project steps later. 

In this case, you can use an Agile hybrid approach, where you use parts of the definition process from Waterfall, but execute them using Agile frameworks. 

5. No clear ending

Agile software development can be exhausting, especially when managers don’t know how to communicate priorities or set boundaries with the client. Agile developers might feel that they are working endlessly on the same tasks that keep getting changed, or that they work from sprint to sprint without having a clear understanding of the final goal. 

Working with extended and experienced teams like NaNLABS can reduce the likelihood of this because our project managers will ensure clear deliverables per each sprint and will delimit the scope of the project.

Agile software development benefits can also be drawbacks. For example, welcoming feedback and constant improvements can also lead to the team feeling like there’s no end in sight.

How to use Agile software development successfully

Agile is the best choice for almost every software development project with some exceptions. Those exceptional cases are:

  • When you have a fixed price. While Agile can have great estimations, accepting changes at any stage may delay the project and generate more related costs.

  • When you have previously defined scope. Having a well-defined project that won’t be needing any changes doesn’t match with the Agile method. 

  • If you have an unresponsive or busy client that can’t give much input. Agile isn’t the right choice if you expect minimal participation from clients. It’ll cause huge bottlenecks and the team won’t have the needed user insights.

Agile is the way to go if you need fast, high quality and flexible answers. Some examples are: 

  • Outsourcing an Agile team to lift the weight off your development team's shoulders. They can do ongoing work to improve the back-end or front-end of your software solution. 

  • Developing an MVP as fast as possible. With minimum viable products, you want to build and deliver a useful product as fast as possible while keeping yourself open to user feedback and new learnings. 

  • Developing new features, streamlining products, or upgrading infrastructure. Any other kind of development work that doesn’t have a fixed timeline is a great fit for Agile.

That said, it’s rare to find places that use pure Agile. Most companies have adopted a hybrid version of this methodology that includes Waterfall, Six Sigma, and Agile.

You should find a combination of methodologies that works for you. For example, if you want to work in small chunks with a visual representation of the project, but you also need a very clear definition stage, then you might merge the Waterfall definition stage with Kanban boards and sprints.

Is Agile Software Development right for your business?

Agile could be right for you if you’re willing to put in the hours or partner up with an external company to implement it.  

Agile software development benefits are extensive and will inevitably make your end product high quality. Also, Agile will help you implement a workplace culture that values feedback and changes. 

Keep in mind that implementing Agile from scratch when your team isn’t familiar with the methodology can be exhausting. In those cases, hiring a software development team like NaNLABS to work as an extension of your business can help you achieve faster developer solutions and support your own team to adopt Agile methods for the first time. 

NaNLABS also makes an effort to merge seamlessly with your company culture, using your preferred communication methods and productivity tools to collaborate smoothly. 

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you

Frequently asked questions about Agile software development

What are the 4 pillars of Agile?

Agile software development has four main pillars or values included in the Agile manifesto, these are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

  • Responding to change over following a plan.

What’s the difference between Agile methodology vs Waterfall?

The difference between Agile and Waterfall is a common question when it comes to choosing software development methodologies. Some of the key differences are:

  • Agile is iterative and invites testers to participate at different stages. Waterfall follows a linear approach and testing happens at the end.

  • The Agile definition stage happens at the beginning of each sprint while Waterfall’s definition is extensive and blocks all the other stages after that.

  • Agile admits and fosters changes at any stage. Waterfall discourages changes after the definition stage. 

Why is Agile better for software development?

Agile is the best methodology for software development projects that need fast results, and don’t have a fixed scope or budget. Agile works because it has different testing opportunities and developers build with the end-user in mind.

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