Agile Software Development – Pros and Cons

14 May
2020
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Even if you only have a passing familiarity with software development, you’re probably aware of waterfall. Waterfall is a software development process that has several steps: analyse the requirements, design the solution, and implement the solution. This sounds simple enough on paper, but the waterfall process does not come without its fair share of problems. First and foremost, the process is overused. Documentation on design and requirements pile up after months of analysis, leading to a mountain of documents before even arriving at the implementation phase of the project. Additionally, many projects fail because they never meet the needs of the end-users. Or, the implemented features are never used. 

These are just a few of the reasons why the waterfall process can be less than ideal when it comes to producing software. That’s why, instead, developers have opted to pursue agile software development, which is extreme programming done within short cycles of time. 

In 2001, developers created a set of guiding principles known as the agile manifesto. The principles of agile software development revolve around adaptation. In agile development a process, plan, or tool is abandoned if it does not work. Let’s walk through the pros and cons of agile methodology. 

Pros and Cons of Agile Software Development

Because agile opts for a short cycle of development, it is better suited to adapt as the development requirements change. In scrum, for example, teams have two week sprints to implement features. At the end of the cycle, stakeholders give feedback on the newly implemented features. If a requirement is changed, the software can be updated quickly.

But there are additional pros and cons to agile software development. Constant communication, for instance, is one of the perks. By communicating, you’re able to better understand your customers’ problems and create software that solves those problems. Often, projects will fail simply because the connection between the tech people and the business people leaves something to be desired. Agile software development methods like scrum allow for regular meetings with the product owner. These meetings make sure the software is heading in the right direction. This agile principle can be summed up as “customer collaboration over contract negotiation.”

When we talk about the pros and cons of agile development, we have to talk about overuse. Overuse is a definite detriment when it comes to using scrum. Too often, people will blindly follow scrum without questioning if it’s working for them. Imagine a project conceived of in scrum with two week iterations. Once the project is released, it shifts to a more support-oriented approach. As such, the sprint scope is always being changed because there are bug fixes that take priority over everything else. Because of this, the team never achieves the goals that are outlined during meetings. If this is the case, it’s clear that scrum – and maybe agile software development in general – aren’t working. With overuse, you need to recognize that agile software development may not be right for you.

The pros and cons of agile methodology continue, of course. Transparency is a big benefit. With agile methodologies, customers are encouraged to be more engaged in software’s development. They’ll be informed about the problems early and what has to be accomplished to create certain features. When a level of transparency is missing it can frustrate customers. Often, estimations given are only a guess by the developers because they are too unsure. 

Let’s say a technical risk occurs. Say, for instance, that a library gets deprecated and needs replacement. Customers need to be informed about this. Otherwise, they will grow frustrated and their expectations will not be met. However, if there are short cycles and communication, everyone – from the technical side to the business side – will be able to get on the same page and pursue the development of software. 

Technical debt should be noted when it comes to the pros and cons of agile. Technical debt and technical tasks can be quite serious cons to using agile software development in some cases. This is because agile always leads to technical debt. Developers just don’t have the entire context from around the system to create the proper code design and the architecture.

Ultimately, there are many pros and cons of agile methodology. It can be very useful in some cases, but also very detrimental in others. If you would like to learn more about an agile development cycle and the pros and cons of agile, consider contacting KitelyTech today. KitelyTech has years of tech experience, and is well-versed in working with entrepreneurs to make their tech solutions possible.

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