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One of the recent and most significant developments in the world of IT is Agile software development. But what is Agile all about, and why do you need it? This article explains it all.

The Oxford dictionary defines Agile as the ability to move quickly and easily. In other words, agility is the quality of understanding, acting and accomplishing things quickly and efficiently. However, the term has become exceedingly popular in the world of IT.

What does Agile have to do with information technology? Is it a technology, a product, a solution? In this article, we will take a close look at what Agile is and how it is beneficial for modern day enterprises.

How did it all start?

Software development is a complex process and IT companies know it pretty well. It involves a list of deliverables including specific software programs, conception, designing, implementation, testing and documentation. If it wasn’t any complex already, it is also subject to constant technology upgrades and changing client/business requirements.

The complexities involved in software development are known to slow down the product lifecycle and fail to deliver the desired business value. Businesses felt the need for a more robust and scalable approach to software development. They sought after a method that could speed up the whole process, while ensuring quality and delivering business value. That’s when Agile was born.

So, what is Agile?

Agile is not a tool or solution. It is a set of best practices and methodologies used to optimize software development. It is a bridge that tries to connect the gaps in the development process and deliver the end product faster. A typical Agile framework is distinguished by some key features.

Phased approach
Instead of following a linear approach and verifying deliverables at the end, Agile establishes a stage-wise product development approach; each stage known as a “Sprint”. At the end of each Sprint, the completed tasks are verified and passed on to the next Sprint.

In contrast to the traditional style, Agile follows a team-based approach, bringing together the planning, development and testing professionals to complete the project successfully.

Client involvement
It also includes active client participation at each stage so any changes or requirements can be addressed immediately.

Agile uses a number of tools to track individual and team progress in real-time and compare progress with defined deadlines.

Why choose Agile over traditional software development?

The concept of Agile software development sounds convincing, but is it something you need? Whether or not software development is your bread and butter, following industry best practices always has its own advantages.

Continuous delivery
Traditional methods of software development are slow and mundane, and are known to delay product deliveries. In a dynamic IT world, little delays could cause costly repercussions. It is a time-poor world and clients always look for continuous delivery. By introducing Agile framework in your software development, you can shorten project lifecycles, release products faster and improve the overall ROI.

Complete transparency
Getting lost in the lengthy, complicated procedure of software development is quite natural. Agile solves this issue by making the whole process transparent. Right from the moment a project begins; Agile breaks it down in multiple phases, establishing clear visibility at each stage. This feature of Agile software development makes it highly transparent, understandable and most preferred by clients.

High software quality
The entire concept of Agile is aimed at delivering high-quality software and applications to the end user. By adopting a team-based approach to software development, Agile ensures better coordination among development and testing teams, allowing them to fix functional bugs immediately. Also, since the progress is tracked at each phase, the quality of software is constantly under check, leaving little scope for errors and glitches.

Enhanced customer satisfaction
Under traditional software development, the client reviews the software/application right at the end of the project. It leads to confusion and chaos if the client is not satisfied with the outcome. Agile puts an end to this problem by involving stakeholders at each stage of the development process, right from planning, designing, development and testing. The client is also aware of progress at each stage and can suggest changes in real-time. It ensures that client requirements are well addressed and the end user is happy.

Like all other niches, the software development industry has grown and improved phenomenally; and Agile has led to this revolution. Over time, numerous Agile methodologies like Extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM and Crystal have evolved. The best method for your business would vary according to your business and project type. However, implementing Agile in your project management or software development creates a win-win situation for both your internal teams as well as your client.