What Is Agile Software Development? (Detailed Guide)

What Is Agile Software Development? (Detailed Guide).

Want to understand Agile software development and the tools you need to implement it?

Agile software development is one of the most efficient ways to streamline work processes and address customer needs. 

It breaks down your development process into smaller chunks called sprints that you work on in 1-2 week intervals. This allows you to incorporate customer feedback incrementally to build a better product. 

But what is it, and how do you implement it?

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Agile software development to help you implement it effectively. 

We’ll even highlight the best Agile software for 2021 to help you get started in the easiest possible way! 

This Article Contains:

(click on the links to jump to a section)

Let’s get started!

What Is Agile Methodology In Software Development?

Agile software development is a modern project management method that breaks a large project into smaller chunks to receive customer feedback at each stage. This helps customers experience the product at different stages and share their impressions and inputs. The result is a final product that customers truly love!

This method is aimed at:

  • Streamlining work processes
  • Addressing customer feedback frequently
  • Encouraging test-driven development
  • Boosting team collaboration
  • Helping you order pizzas faster!

Okay, maybe not the last one…

However, remember that the most successful innovations are developed with close customer collaboration.

And that’s what Agile is all about!

Want to learn more about the Agile methodology? Check out our comprehensive guide. 

What are the differences between an Agile and waterfall approach?

Unlike other development methods like the Waterfall model, Agile adopts a sprint-based approach to project management.

Instead of working on your entire project at a stretch, the Agile model breaks your software project into smaller development cycles (sprints) that are distributed to different project teams

Once each development cycle is finished, it’s presented to the customers (testers) for feedback. You then incorporate the input from your testers before moving onto the next cycle.

For a more detailed breakdown of how the Agile software development methodology differs from the Waterfall methodology, click here.

Why is Agile so popular?

There is a simple reason why Agile is so popular:

it makes life a lot easier for your software development team and your customers!

How?

By breaking down your software project into smaller cycles, you’re increasing the flexibility of your project. Your development team no longer has to incorporate changes to your entire project: they’re just making them for one development cycle.

This way, when something goes wrong, you’re not re-doing everything like that Sonic movie which had to be completely re-animated!

sonic

Additionally, by involving your customers in your software development process, you’re able to create a final product that accurately reflects their needs and wants.

What Is The Agile Manifesto?

In 2001, 17 software developers, including Kent Beck, Jeff Sutherland, Martin Fowler, Ken Schwaber, and Alistair Cockburn, came together to create a brief document that defined what Agile should be.

In order to understand the Agile software development lifecycle better, it’s important to go over the Agile Manifesto.

It’s a quick summation of the principles that guide the Agile model.

What Are The 12 Principles Of Agile?

These 12 Agile principles, according to the Agile Alliance:

  • Continuous delivery 
  • Harness change 
  • Frequent delivery
  • Businesses and developers work together
  • Motivated individuals
  • Face-to-face conversation
  • Working software
  • Sustainable development 
  • Technical excellence 
  • Simplicity 
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Regular adjustments

Let’s take a closer look at every Agile principle:

A. Principles Of Agile Customer Satisfaction

  1. Customer satisfaction must always be your top priority. The only way to achieve this is through continuous improvement via test-driven development.
  2. Always embrace changing requirements, even if they’re towards the end of the development process. These iterative (recurring) changes help you always address a customer’s needs.
  3. Deliver working software and services often. Frequently delivering software products to customers is the only way to get continuous feedback.

B. Principles Of Agile Quality

  1. Your primary measure of success is developing working software that accurately satisfies a customer’s wants.
  2. Aim for sustainable test-driven development. Your team must be able to maintain the quality of your incremental and iterative processes throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC).
  3. Continuous dedication to technical excellence and simple design helps you adapt to customer feedback and satisfy their needs.

C. Principles Of Agile Teamwork

  1. Agile developers and the project stakeholder must actively collaborate to clearly understand and implement customer feedback.
  2. Always build working software around motivated people and give them the Agile environment they need to get the work done.
  3. Face-to-face conversation, in person, is the most efficient way to collaborate over Agile DevOps.
  4. The best project work comes from self-organizing teams. When Agile teams manage themselves, they can progress quickly.

D. Principles Of Agile Management

  1. Simplicity is an essential element of Agile project management. Simplicity can be viewed as cutting down any unnecessary steps and procedures from your Agile development process
  2. Remember to constantly evaluate your team’s progress at regular intervals. This will help you fine-tune every future sprint and process.

What Are The Different Agile Methodologies?

While Agile software development is a common development process by itself, it’s also the base of many other software development methodologies.

Think of it this way: Agile started it all and everyone loved it so much that they wanted to try their own versions of it!

Luckily, these versions aren’t as *ahem* amateur as this:

amateur batman

Here’s a closer look at some popular methods based on the Agile idea:

Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies

A Scrum team is a cross-functional team that usually consists of 5-7 experienced and self-sufficient software developers. Led by a Scrum master, they don’t require much supervision due to their small team size, and are able to work on complex technology projects by themselves.

Bonus: Learn about how a Scrum master manages a Scrum team!

Like any other Agile approach, the Scrum methodology breaks down a product’s life cycle into smaller sprints to incorporate end user feedback at levels of the development process.

The Scrum team also hosts special meetings called Scrum ceremonies, which include the daily standup, sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.

Here’s our guide on Scrum meetings.

As the Scrum team is usually very experienced, this software development methodology is best suited to a highly complex software project whose life cycle constantly evolves and changes. 

In fact, we’re pretty sure Scrum could’ve handled all the twists and changes that Game of Thrones’ final season had! 

If only they took customer feedback on that season while making it…ugh.

Curious about Scrum project management? Click here to learn more.

What is Kanban software development?

Kanban software development is a great visual-first Agile approach.

Most project teams use Kanban software development to visualize their project progress and quickly take stock of their deliverables. In the Kanban method, all your tasks are laid out on a Kanban board where you can move them around and quickly make adjustments.

This software development methodology is based on three Agile principles:

  • Always visualize your workflow to easily keep stock of developments
  • Limit the amount of work in progress (WIP) tasks you have to streamline your activities
  • Create an iterative approach focused on testing and developing high-priority tasks first before moving on to your less essential ones

Want to know how Kanban can impact your business workflow? This article has all the answers.

What is Lean software development?

Lean software development is another popular Agile-based development methodology.

Lean software development is characterized by minimizing any wasteful, unnecessary activities in your development workflow. 

Here’s the funny thing: when you hear the word “lean,” you probably think of something associated with dieting, right?

And that’s what Lean development is about!

The goal of Lean development is to simplify and shorten your development cycle while giving your customers the best Lean software system possible.

It’s like a crash-diet for your project – stripping off all the excess. Only this time, it’s a crash-diet that works!

Want to know how Lean works? This article explains all the 7 principles of Lean and this article provides a guide on Lean project management.

What is the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)?

DSDM is an Agile framework focused on delivering strategically aligned business benefits for the best possible return on investment.

The development methodology does this by breaking down your project into four types of functional requirements in decreasing order of priority:

  • Must have (M)
  • Should have (S)
  • Could have (C) 
  • Won’t have (W)

By directing your resources to the items with the highest priority first, you’re able to get the best business value out of your development process.

In addition to the prioritization process, there are eight key Agile principles guiding this development methodology:

  • Focus on the core business need
  • Deliver on time
  • Collaborate often
  • Never compromise on software quality
  • Build incrementally after setting solid foundations
  • Engage in iterative development and  testing
  • Communicate clearly
  • Demonstrate control over all your processes

What is Extreme Programming (XP)?

Extreme programming is one of the most popular software development methods. Its name comes from the method of taking regular software development practices to their extreme limits.

group of men saying extreme

And while its name may sound like it’s built for college frat parties, it’s an extremely technical Agile development methodology.

The Extreme programming methodology focuses on:

  • Delivering high-quality software products frequently
  • Incorporating customer feedback during all software testing cycles
  • Continuous collaboration with rapid feedback loops

Want to know what it’s like to experience XP? Click here.

What is Feature Driven Development (FDD)?

The FDD Agile movement was started in 1997 as one of the first Agile-based software development methodologies. 

Like other Agile methods, the ultimate goal of FDD is to create a working product that satisfies a customer’s needs. It does this by tackling each feature separately and getting customer feedback on it. 

This Agile software development methodology consists of six key steps:

  1. Develop an overall model
  2. Build your feature list
  3. Plan your features
  4. Design your features
  5. Deliver your features
  6. Get feedback on your features

Note: There are a large number of other Agile methodologies that serve various purposes including Crystal, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and Scrumban. 

Check out this article to learn more about SAFe and Scrumban.

What Are The Benefits Of Agile Working?

Adopting any Agile development methodology can help you in multiple ways. 

Here are a few benefits of Agile development:

  • Better customer satisfaction 
  • More adaptability
  • Better budget and time management
  • Better teamwork
  • Increased motivation

Now, let’s look at how they’re important for your business:

1. Better customer satisfaction

The best part about Agile DevOps is that it actively involves the customers in the software development process. This way, instead of assuming what they want, you actually involve them as software design and development testers!

This continuous integration of customer feedback is going to make software testing more efficient and help you deliver a final product that they’re happy with. 

Coming back to that Sonic example we mentioned earlier.

If the producers had adopted Agile, they would have included customer feedback in the development process and avoided all the trouble of re-animating the entire thing!

But still, kudos to the producers for actually listening to the fans. Unlike a certain fantasy drama that isn’t going to redo their last season any time soon…

game of thrones soon gif

2. More adaptability

As the Agile process breaks down your project into sprints, it’s a very adaptive software development method.

Whenever you need to incorporate customer feedback, you don’t have to redo or edit your entire project; you just have to redo the software testing for one sprint. This incremental application development approach makes it far easier to adapt to sudden changes quickly!

3. Better budget and time management

As Agile modeling is so adaptable, it helps every software developer to make quick decisions on trade-offs between time and budget constraints. This way, you’ll experience faster turnaround times with better cost benefits when developing a software architecture!

4. Better teamwork

An Agile development methodology prioritizes active team collaboration, meaning it’s going to facilitate better teamwork. Everyone has an important part to play in Agile programming and has to work together when developing software.

5. Increased motivation

As Agile DevOps focus on smaller, short-term cycles, an Agile team can complete tasks quickly to feel a sense of achievement. This can motivate them to continue working hard while developing software in the future!

When Should You Not Use Agile?

While the Agile software development methodology is great for your business and customers, you can’t use it for every project

You probably won’t benefit from the Agile approach in these situations:

  • When your software development project isn’t that urgent
  • When you lack a talented software development team
  • When there’s no pathway for continuous customer collaboration

The Best Agile Software For Your Product Development Activities

While the Agile method can help you streamline your software development process, it’s not enough by itself.

kevin home alone gif

You need the right tool to carry out the methodology!

With the right Agile project management tool, you’ll be able to:

  • Manage sprints
  • Track project progress
  • Collaborate with your team
  • Actively involve clients and stakeholders in your process

Luckily, ClickUp is the perfect project management tool to manage the Agile process!

What’s ClickUp?

ClickUp devices on Alexa, laptop, and iPad

ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated Agile project management tools. Used by Google, Webflow, and Airbnb, it’ll help you monitor your Agile development process and manage your tasks and sprints effectively.

Here’s a closer look at how ClickUp can help you implement Agile practices:

1. Manage different Agile project requirements with multiple views

The Agile mindset is all about adapting to changes, right?

That’s why your Agile environment needs to reflect this too!

Luckily, that’s exactly what ClickUp offers you.

Instead of using an Agile project management tool that forces you to adapt to it, ClickUp gives you multiple views to adapt to your team!

It’d be like the Game of Thrones producers giving you the option of choosing who got to sit on the throne! No more debates or disagreements – everyone would get what they wanted.

Here’s a closer look at these views and how they create an Agile environment primed to handle Agile practices:

1) Required Task Views

ClickUp has two required task views to adapt to different project management approaches:

Board view

If you’re a fan of the Kanban process, this is the view for you. 

ClickUp’s Kanban board interface helps you move tasks around, view project statuses, and quickly keep up with your Agile development process. Just take a quick glance at your Kanban board to determine what stages your projects are in and move them around instantly!

We’re sure you won’t get “board” of this view.

Sorry.

board view on ClickUp

List view

This is a good view for people who manage their work with GTD-style to-do lists. Here, your tasks are listed down in a simple checklist that can be checked off as you progress. 

You can also use the list view to quickly keep track of your Sprint lists for varying tasks and user stories. As they’re all listed down one after the other, you can tackle each one in order.

list view on ClickUp

Box view

The Box View is the ideal view for any Agile project manager or Scrum master. 

Why?

It gives managers a high-level overview of all the tasks their project team is currently working on. As the sprint’s tasks are sorted by assignee, a project manager can quickly determine what everyone’s working on and make any workload adjustments.

Box View 2.0 in ClickUp

Calendar view

ClickUp’s Calendar View helps the Scrum master during sprint planning cycles. Use it to view all your upcoming tasks to develop an efficient and accurate sprint planning process.

You can even use it to identify when you’ll be able to add things from your product backlog and schedule Netflix marathons!

calendar view cropped in ClickUp

For added sprint planning adaptability, a manager can view their calendar as:

  • Days: To view project tasks scheduled on a given date
  • 4-Days: To view scheduled tasks over a rolling four day period
  • Week: To look at your weekly sprint schedule
  • Monthly: To look at your software development project roadmap for the next month

Me Mode

ClickUp’s “Me” Mode only highlights comments, subtasks, and task lists assigned to you. This will minimize distractions – helping you focus better on your assignments.

me mode clickup

2. Track your sprints effectively with Sprint Lists

ClickUp can add checklists to multiple projects, tasks, and subtasks. This helps you create sprint lists that break down your project deliverables for a stretch. You can then easily check items off these lists as your team progresses. 

You can even add Scrum points to each list to estimate how long it’ll take to knock out the rest of your product backlog.

Wait, what are Scrum points? 

This article explains that and other Scrum artifacts.

clickup story points and sprints

However, that isn’t all.

As these lists are so easy to understand, an Agile coach can use them to teach an Agile team to adopt a disciplined Agile framework easily. 

Don’t you wish you had handy tools like these when you were in college?

Learn how to set up an Agile framework in ClickUp!

3. Get high-level visual overviews of your projects with Agile Dashboards

ClickUp’s Dashboards are perfect for high-level visual overviews for Agile project management. Add your Sprint Lists and tasks to these Dashboards to quickly see how things are progressing. 

It’ll be your own mission-control center, where you can observe everything that goes on. Kind of like the Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings…just without the creepiness!

What are some Agile metrics you can use for reporting?

With Agile project management software, product owners have access to key metrics to gauge the success of their Agile project. These metrics include velocity, burndowns, burnups, and cumulative flows.

Here’s how ClickUp can help you track these Agile metrics:

Velocity

ClickUp’s Velocity Chart helps you quickly determine the completion rate of your tasks. Your tasks are broken down into weekly or bi-weekly intervals and their average velocity is displayed.

Additionally, ClickUp automatically groups your Sprint List data to make it easier to add to each chart.

velocity charts scrum

Burndown Charts

ClickUp’s Burndown Charts help you visualize how well your team is performing against a target line. It shows you how much work is still left to be done. 

Here’s what ClickUp’s burndown chart highlights:

  • Target progress: The ideal task completion pace needed to meet your deadlines
  • Projected progress: Your current trending rate based on tasks currently completed
  • Active: The actual number of tasks you’ve currently completed

burndown charts scrum

Burnup Charts

Burnup Charts highlight what has been completed against your remaining scope. 

This helps you take stock of what you’ve accomplished so far to motivate your Agile team to reach your deadlines.

burnup line chat

Cumulative Flow Charts

ClickUp’s Cumulative Flow Chart helps you visualize and track project progress over time. As tasks are colored based on their status, you can easily track your sprint backlog and product backlog completion.

cumulative flow chart

Want to take a crash course on Agile metrics? Check out our articles on Cumulative Flow, Burndown, Burnup, and Velocity charts.

4. Facilitate project communication with comment sections

Each ClickUp task comes with its own dedicated comment section to help your team exchange documents, ideas, and memes!

For added collaboration, you can even tag people for instant updates to keep the project moving.

comments clickup

ClickUp can also integrate with tons of communication tools like Slack and Skype to ensure that efficient communication is always available!

5. Keep your Agile project moving along with assigned comments

Worried that your team is taking too long to take action on your comments?

Slow communication and feedback are some of the easiest ways for software engineering to go off-track.

Luckily, ClickUp has a simple solution to speed things up, Formula 1 style.

This project management software lets you instantly convert a comment into a task and assign it to your team members. The assigned team member will be notified of this, and it’ll even pop-up in their notifications to help them get started.

Once they’re done with it, they can mark the comment as resolved to eliminate any unnecessary follow-ups.

Create subtasks in one click

6. Manage varying Agile project stages with Custom Statuses

All Agile software development projects aren’t the same.

That’s why your Agile project management tool can’t treat them the same, either!

Unlike traditional project management tools that give you a standard set of project statuses, ClickUp lets you customize them on a project-by-project basis!

This way, you’re not stuck with a set of statuses that don’t accurately reflect your project stages.

You can get as creative and detailed as you want – “Beta Testing”, “Pair Programming”, “Brainstorming over a couple of beers” – it’s all up to you!

board view

However, those aren’t all of ClickUp’s features.

ClickUp also gives you tons of other features to manage your Agile process, such as:

Conclusion

Using Agile software development methods is one of the easiest ways to boost project efficiency and address customer needs better. 

And just how “being agile” is all about moving quickly, “adopting Agile” is all about quickly adapting to project changes while still delivering on your objectives.

And since you can’t manage Agile projects without the right Agile tool, why not sign up for ClickUp today? 

It’ll streamline things to make you as agile as Usain Bolt while giving you all the features you need to implement Agile and be as successful as him too!

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