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9 Key Benefits Of Agile Software Development (2021 Guide)

Wondering what the benefits of Agile are?

Ask any software project manager how they manage projects, and you’ll probably hear about Agile or its different flavors like Scrum and Kanban

And while Agile’s popularity makes it seem unnecessarily hyped, it actually helps software development teams sprint through their project and deliver superior products to customers. 👌

In this article, we’ll cover the nine key benefits of Agile development and highlight the best tool to help you manage Agile software development projects.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development involves breaking down large software projects into bite-sized development cycles called sprints. Each sprint lasts for two to four weeks, where teams develop certain features and release a prototype (increment) to the customers. 

The customers review the increment and give feedback, which the team implements before tackling the next product features. 

Sorta like the taste tests you do while cooking a fantastic dish, this regular feedback tells you how to improve the software to meet customer needs.

man testing his cooking

Want to learn more about the Agile methodology?

Start by reading Agile’s guiding document, the Agile Manifesto, to understand the Agile values and Agile principles.

You can also go through our comprehensive Agile cookbooks that break down the Agile Manifesto:

What Are The Benefits Of Agile Software Development?

There must be some reason why 95% of teams use the Agile practice, right? 🤔 

So here are the top nine Agile development benefits:

  1. More adaptability
  2. Continuous improvement
  3. Better teamwork
  4. Increases motivation
  5. Relevant metrics for data-driven decisions
  6. Better project predictability and control
  7. Improves product quality
  8. Higher customer satisfaction
  9. Faster ROI

Here’s a closer look at each key benefit:

1. More adaptability

Seasons change, habits change… project needs change

And that’s where traditional project management approaches such as the Waterfall model fail. 

In Waterfall, you develop software primarily based on initial customer requirements and deliver the product only when it’s 100% complete. 

The problem?

Without in-progress user meetings or software demos, you’ll assume what the customer wants and develop the software accordingly. 

Sure, you know their initial requirements, but that could change down the line. 

And when that happens, you’ll have to start over the entire software development. 

Now that’s going to be super costly! 😱

How does Agile improve adaptability?

While you also collect initial user requirements in an Agile project, it doesn’t end there.

Agile development methodology splits up your software project into several sprints. At the end of each sprint, you get valuable user feedback on the product, which helps you adapt to changing needs with ease.

As you interact with customers at every development stage, you can incorporate any changes needed over the next sprint without redoing the entire project. 

2. Continuous improvement

Agile software development is kinda like cooking.  

The Agile team members are the chefs, creating fantastic software. 👩‍🍳

Your recipes are the product backlog and sprint backlog, which describe what features you’ll develop throughout the project. 

Read more about these Agile artifacts.

And just as you gradually grow from an amateur cook to a fantastic chef, Agile helps software teams improve their efficiency through continuous improvement

What is continuous improvement?

It involves examining workflows and processes to identify opportunities for boosting efficiency. 

How does Agile help you become more efficient?

An Agile team holds a retrospective meeting to reflect and analyze their performance in the past sprint to determine what’s working and what’s not. This way, you can fine-tune your processes and behavior for better efficiency. 

These positive discussions also help members learn from each other and motivate themselves to perform well. 

You can even celebrate successes, appreciating the team for all the hard work they put in! 🍸

Read more about Agile retrospectives. 

3. Better teamwork

Remember those team challenges on MasterChef?  

Those require some super high levels of teamwork. 🙌

fist bumping gif

And while successful teamwork is a goal for several organizations, most teams work in silos when they follow traditional approaches like the Waterfall model. 

This kills collaboration and can even reduce your team’s productivity and morale. Yikes!

How does Agile enhance teamwork?

Agile principles and values support teamwork, ensuring there’s active collaboration between each member. 

For example, the retrospective sessions create room for members to brainstorm ideas and collaborate.

More importantly, the Agile practice helps teams become:

  • Self-organized: team members identify what work they need to tackle, how to prioritize, and go about it all on their own. They don’t wait for the management to make decisions 
  • Cross-functional: an Agile team doesn’t only consist of a developer. It’s a cross functional team that can also include anyone involved in the project, like researchers, business analysts, and designers 

This way, developers and business people work together on the project, enhancing communication and team cohesion. 

Say goodbye to those silos! 👋

But if the team doesn’t have a manager, isn’t that a recipe for disaster? 

No. 

An Agile team also has leading members, like the product owner and Scrum master, who collaborate with others and take decisions.

Kinda like the MasterChef judges, the product owner and Scrum master help guide the team in the right direction. 

Don’t worry. They aren’t like Gordon Ramsay!

They’re a lot more considerate and sensitive to team needs. 😌

Learn how to become an efficient Agile team

4. Increases motivation

Traditional software development models don’t really motivate team members.  

For starters, you’ll be working long hours in rigid organizational settings where collaboration and appreciation can be as rare as the perfect steak. 🥩

Sorta like another episode on Hell’s Kitchen.  

How does Agile increase motivation?

Setting clear and achievable goals is one of the quickest ways to motivate team members.

And an Agile approach like the Scrum framework helps you do that in three key ways:

  • Product owners help define a strategic, overarching product vision that sets long-term goals for the team 
  • The sprint backlog clearly defines each sprint’s goals (remember the recipes we talked about earlier?)
  • Immediate goals, like what each member is going to tackle on a day, are set during daily Scrum meetings

And since Agile teams work in short development cycles, they can finish tasks quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Remember, the Agile approach also helps teams decide what tasks they do and how they work. 

Naturally, when you can direct your work, you tend to be happier and more motivated.  

An Agile environment also encourages and appreciates members through regular feedback sessions like the retrospective. This way, everyone feels acknowledged and recognized for their work. 🤗

motivational penguin gif

5. Relevant metrics for data-driven decisions

In traditional software development, you consider metrics like cost, person-months worked, lines of code written, or even the cups of coffee downed, to quantify success. 

Not really relevant if the customer is unhappy with the final product, right?

Traditional project management also makes it hard to monitor project progress and your team’s efficiency.

Fortunately, that isn’t the case in Agile development. 

How does Agile measure things?

The Agile framework emphasizes outcomes, like better software and improving your team’s performance.

In theory, this involves measuring stuff like:

  • How well you delivered value to the customer
  • If you received quick feedback and how you responded to it
  • How well your Scrum team collaborated
  • If your team learned something in the process

Wait… those are subjective. 

How do you ‘measure’ them?

You can’t. 

Agile metrics are people-centric, and you have to interact with the team to understand what’s cooking.  

However, from a productivity perspective, here are some metrics you can use to analyze your team’s efficiency:

  • Cycle time: how long it took to finish a task from the moment you started work on it
  • Lead time: time taken to complete a task from its creation
  • Velocity: number of story points completed in a sprint. Story points refer to the relative effort needed to complete the tasks 
  • Burndown: how much work is left to tackle 🔥
  • Burnup: how much backlog work your project team completed so far
  • Cumulative flow: helps track and analyze progress at various stages in the workflow

These metrics help teams accurately understand the amount of work they can handle and how far they are from achieving their goals. 

6. Better project predictability and control

Whether it’s the Waterfall or the Agile approach, teams need to estimate budgets, deadlines, risks, and more for project planning and execution. 

However, the difference between both methods lies in how useful and accurate those calculations are. 

Remember, you only rely on initial requirements to plan out the entire project in the Waterfall model. 

That’s like blindly following a recipe without modifying it to suit your customer’s tastes.  

And that usually becomes a disaster. 

How does Agile improve project predictability?

Agile teams develop the software through short sprints, each varying from two to four weeks duration.  

The benefits?

  • You only make short-term estimates, which the team reviews and updates regularly during Agile ceremonies like sprint planning and daily Scrum meetings
  • When you have a fixed sprint length and development allocation for the entire project, you can predict budgets for each sprint accurately
  • The metrics we discussed earlier help predict team performance for every sprint, making it easier to schedule tasks

The Agile framework can also reduce the chances of a kitchen disaster… aka a failed project. 😅

will smith starting a fire on accident gif

How? 

Teams only focus on developing some product features at each stage, which helps them quickly understand if the approach is working or not.

You can beta test the software after each sprint, get customer feedback early in the project, and make the required changes before moving on to other features.  

7. Improves product quality

Most traditional software development projects follow a rigid testing plan, where software testing happens only at the end of the project. 

When you finally test it, bugs and other defects that you could have easily resolved earlier would have piled up. 

Much like a stack of unwashed dishes. *panic* 

That’s why most traditional teams skimp on testing, which affects the software quality. 

How does Agile improve product quality?

As the Agile method breaks down the project into manageable sections, teams can focus on high-quality development and testing with ease. 

Moreover, since you release increments and hold review discussions frequently, finding and fixing software bugs happens continuously, way before they snowball. 

Being a cross functional team also ensures an Agile developer and tester works in tandem, helping you deliver superior quality products to customers on time. 

8. Higher customer satisfaction

Since the customer isn’t involved in the traditional development process, they won’t really know if the product actually meets their standards until the project’s over.

And usually, your assumptions might fall short of what they want. 

So while dark dining works in the culinary world, it’s not fit for software development. 

How does Agile boost customer satisfaction?

Agile values and principles require active customer involvement in all development phases, much like live cooking. 

Rather than assuming what stakeholders want, an Agile team treats them as a software developer or tester. Additionally, the project team demos the software to all stakeholders during sprint review meetings. 

This way, customers get early access to the software, which helps teams deliver software that customers are thrilled with. 🤩

9. Faster ROI

Remember, in traditional approaches, teams release the software only after completing the entire development process. 

So the stakeholders get no return on investment (ROI) until the final delivery. 

Considering how long traditional development cycles can be, this could be a problem for companies in fast-moving markets. 

I mean, software products aren’t like fine wine investments, where ROI increases over time. 🙅 

i would age like fine wine

How does Agile give a faster ROI?

If you’ve been with us so far, you probably know the answer to this question already. 

Using the Agile model means quicker software releases. You get a working software after the first sprint and a potentially ‘ready to market’ product after a few more iterations. 

Additionally, to maximize the value created, teams prioritize features based on customer feedback. 

This way, benefits are realized early on in the development process. 

How To Manage Agile Software Development Projects

Sure, there are several awesome Agile benefits for both businesses and customers. 

However, you need to implement Agile properly if you want to enjoy its benefits. 

How do you do that?

Don’t worry. It isn’t as hard as a MasterChef Mystery Box challenge! 😇

To start your Agile transformation journey today, we recommend using ClickUp, the world’s #1 Agile project management software

Here’s a quick overview of some ClickUp features designed explicitly for Agile teams:

  • Views: choose from List, Kanban, Box, and other workspace views to adapt to project, and team needs with ease
  • Sprints: manage each sprint and your team’s workload with this ClickApp. You can even use Sprint Points to create your own points system for your backlogs
  • Comments: improve teamwork with task-specific discussions and collaboration
  • Goals: set project goals and track progress to motivate your Scrum team
  • Agile Dashboard: track relevant metrics like velocity, burnup, burndown, and cumulative flow to ensure your projects are on the right track
  • Gantt Chart: use ClickUp’s intuitive Gantt charts to predict potential roadblocks
  • Permissions: bring in stakeholders to your project space without compromising privacy
  • Docs: create, edit, share, and collaborate on documents in real-time
  • Syntax Highlighting: create the code syntax for languages like Python, Javascript, HTML, etc. with just a few clicks
  • Git Integration: ClickUp integrates with GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket to help you manage commits, branches, and pull requests from your ClickUp tasks

But this is just the start!

Read more on how Agile software development teams use ClickUp.

It’s Time To Get Agile 

From better adaptability to faster ROI, the Agile mindset helps teams deal with the common pitfalls associated with traditional development. 

So if you have software projects with high levels of uncertainty, the Agile operating model may be the right cuisine for you. 

And when it comes to Agile (or any project method for that matter), ClickUp is the top chef in the game! 

With a wide variety of cutting edge features, ClickUp makes Agile project management a piece of cake

Get ClickUp for free and tackle software development challenges with agility? 🚀

key challenge winner gif

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