How Agile Project Management Enhances Software Development

Software development teams have specific requirements, especially as they usually face a combination of complex challenges. With globalised competition, the ever-shifting technology landscape, and need for highly skilled people, software development teams might need to leverage powerful methodologies to ensure they’re getting the most out of their talent.

It comes as no surprise that agile working methodologies has its roots in software development, and this is agile can improve the workflow of software development projects today.

The intricate needs of software development

Managing increasing competition and the constant state of flux in software are some of the needs of software development teams. In this trying environment, software development teams are facing a combination of specific requirements. For example, globalisation driving high competition could mean when your business comes up with an innovative idea, the chances are another software development team has too.

At the same time, rapid technological advances are driving changes in software requirements and design. It’s vital for software development teams to require various iterations of testing throughout the project cycle to meet the product goals.

And whether in-house or outsourced, it can be hard to find the right people for software development needs. The more complex the system, the harder it can be, so software development needs to work hard to find the right expertise. Software development is also faced with third-party integration and interface requirements, which increases the complexity for development teams.

Additionally, development teams are also having to deal with multiple complex user-level requirements. Stringent industry-specific, security, and compliance standards might need to be integrated into the software, which further increases complexity for development. Software development needs to wrestle with the restrictions of programming languages and development frameworks while ensuring the end product is sufficiently user friendly for its purpose.

The agile working solutions for software development

Agile methodology could offer an effective working solution for the intricate needs of software development. This is because agile emphasises assessment – through testing and incremental improvements – throughout the development lifecycle.

Agile includes specific methodologies like DSDM Atern and Scrum. These and other agile methodologies share the same values.

The Agile methodology requires software development teams to work in a “time-box” of one-month or less create a “Done” useable, potentially releasable Product Increment. The agile methodology requires software development teams to reassess the product, reiterate, and develop incremental improvements.

The iterations happen quickly, allowing continuous testing and rapid shipping of the product. As a development team, you have an opportunity to reassess the product at multiple stages to ensure it’s still meeting objectives and to change direction if necessary.

Agile gives you a structured way to approach software development projects. Along with rapid iterations, you could have a chance to reassess project priorities, track workflows, create development opportunities that lower errors, and work successfully to strict budgets and timelines.

In a challenging environment – thanks in part to globalised competition and technology advancements as outlined above – this could allow software development teams to get ahead of the competition more quickly. The result could be greater adaptability, improved communications and trusted teams. You could also end up with more efficient project planning and management.

5 ways agile management improves software development

1. Individual pieces or parts

Agile, in contrast to the waterfall methodologies traditionally used, focuses on delivering individual pieces of parts of the product where relevant. Instead of having to complete the entire application, development teams have a chance to work on incremental improvements of individual pieces or parts.

Though this could require a major cultural shift, it could make the team much more flexible and dynamic. Without the need to have a “big bang” launch, you’re working on smaller, more manageable increments with a lot more flexibility to change and adapt. You can change requirements, plans, and results as necessary for a better outcome.

2. Acceptable application response time

Another key working solution of agile could be the fact the development team works to acceptable application response times instead of industry standards. Using faulty industry standards could lead to frustrating applications rather than drive higher customer satisfaction.

3. People and communication

Another centrepiece of agile as a working solution for development teams is its prioritisation of people and communication over processes and tools. This could enhance teamwork and lead to better product outcomes.

The kanban framework, for example, is a agile working solution that facilitates real-time communication and full transparency on teams. All work items are shared visually on the kanban board so team members know what’s happening with each team member in real time.

The Scrum framework is another example of an agile working solution that facilitates real-time communication and full transparency on teams. Scrum prescribes four formal events for inspection and adaptation:

  1. Sprint Planning (what can be done and how?)
  2. Daily Scrum (what have we done today? what will be done  tomorrow?)
  3. Sprint review (what has been “done” in this sprint?)
  4. Sprint Retrospective (how did we go? How can we improve?)

4. Extreme programming

Extreme programming is a practical working principle that focuses on regular testing, a core feature of agile.

5. Lean development

Lean programming is another agile principle that strips software development down to its basics. Teams focus on features, testing, and behaviours to achieve the specified goals.

Adopt agile for your software projects

The tools of agile project management could empower development teams for only surmounting the complex challenges of the software-development environment but also achieving great product quality and customer satisfaction.

ALC Training is a leading national provider of Agile Training courses. Sign up to our AgilePM® Foundation / Practitioner Course and you can master the Methodology of Agile Project Management. Or sign up to our Professional Scrum Master Course and become an expert in Agile Product Delivery.