IT Team Management Tips

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Software Development

Find out how agile software development can benefit your business and how it might potentially hinder its development.

Agile is not just a framework or a set of directions; it is a mindset and a culture under which software development teams achieve success and deliver it to the clients. The agile approach has already shown its efficiency in countless instances, and here at Intersog, we’ve used this approach to create superb software solutions for hundreds of clients across industries and continents. Simply put, Agile is a set of principles and values related to product development that allows for iterative processes and incremental achievements that lead to the development of the market-ready product. 

How Does It Work?

Instead of following a rigid waterfall plan, you can implement an Agile approach that allows for greater flexibility and gives you enough space for maneuvering within your volatile market. Let’s say you work in the domain of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Internet of Things (IoT), two of the fastest developing and growing industries; you will surely need to adopt an agile approach to make up for the fast changes in your market. With the innovations emerging on a regular basis, you will surely need to adapt your development process to account for these changes. Otherwise, the project you’ve started will produce an outdated product by the time the development is over. 

Agility is the key to surviving in the modern market, especially in dynamic and highly competitive niches. With the development cycle being broken down into bite-size pieces called sprints, you can make changes to your project goals and the development process on the go. In case your goals shift throughout the development process, you can just make incremental changes to the development process and make iterations that would steer your team on the right course and produce the results you need.

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Despite all the advantages of agile software development, it is neither universal nor perfect and there are conditions under which this approach might fail to deliver the results you need. Talking about the advantages and disadvantages of agile software development methodology, you must know that there are circumstances under which this model is not recommended. Today, we are going to take a close look at all the pros and cons of agile software development to see whether it fits your project.

Advantages of Agile Methodology

Starting off with the benefits offered by the Agile model, we’ve been enjoying its benefits for many years now and as our experience at Intersog proves, it does work best for the project involving innovative technologies within dynamic markets. Over 15 years in the industry, we’ve delivered hundreds of projects using this model, and we can say confidently that it does allow for greater flexibility, fosters effective communication and helps improve the final product to help our clients achieve their intended objectives without redundant headaches. So, here are the advantages of Agile methodology as we see them.

Rapid and Tangible Results

One of the main benefits of agile software development methodologies is that they provide fast and visible results. Thanks to the Sprint-based Agile project development life cycle, you get deliverable by the end of each sprint, which usually takes around 2 weeks to complete. By the end of each sprint, you get reports on the project’s progress and deliverables that correspond to the current stage of development. As a client, you will know exactly what is going on with your project every step of the way, and you can be as involved in the process as you want. Each sprint ends up with a clear and tangible result, so you know what is going on and where you are moving to.

Human Interaction is a Priority

Fine-tuned processes and equipment are essential for the development of top-notch software but no tool is as important as healthy and efficient cooperation between all the people involved in the development process. The cooperation between the client and vendor as well as within a custom development team is critical for the proper delivery of the project. Here at Intersog, we make sure to establish healthy and trusty relationships with all of our clients, which allows us to not just deliver superb software solutions but to establish a strong and reliable partnership that benefits everyone. 

If you work with a remote team of developers, regular calls are the main tool for maintaining healthy and comprehensive cooperation. You can schedule weekly or even daily calls with your development team to make sure everything is going smoothly and stay informed on the progress. Of course, you have the option to distance yourself from the project almost entirely and only talk to your vendor when it is absolutely necessary or you can be a hands-on manager who contributes to the development and stays in touch with the team at all times – the choice is yours.

Greater Flexibility

Flexibility is the name of the game here, especially when compared to the rather rigid waterfall methodology. Changes can be introduced at almost every step of the way, and though it does not mean you can change the entire project’s scope and objectives in a heartbeat, you can surely implement some major changes over time and adapt your project to the newly emerging needs. Thanks to the sprint-based structure of the agile model, you can make incremental changes over several weeks to meet the new demands. Why is that important? Well, let’s say you are developing a video game and show it to the quality assurance specialists at the early stage of development; the testers then say your game lacks some essential features that would make it more marketable and exciting. With the agile approach, you can make all the necessary changes and add the new features painlessly over a short period of time without jeopardizing the integrity of the development process.

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Addressing Uncertainties

The Agile methodology shines the brightest when you are not sure what your end-product is going to be like after the development is done. The fact of the matter is that it is quite rare that most projects are volatile and that in most cases you don’t know exactly what your project is going to be like when it’s finished. Agile methodology accepts that and allows you to figure out the final destination as you go. Of course, you have to have a general idea of what your final product is going to be like, but it does not have to be laser-focused. With a team of professional developers at your side, you can move from one development milestone to another and make all the essential decisions as you go. With this approach, you can accept the unknown and take advantage of this uncertainty to improve your final product and make it even better than your initial vision. You can prioritize experimentation and discovery to find out which features would benefit your product in the long run. 

So, what are the benefits of agile software development? First and foremost, it is flexibility and tangibility. You know exactly what is going on with your project at each step and you can adapt the development process to meet the new requirements and improve your product before the release date. It also reduces your anxieties by embracing the unknown and fosters effective cooperation with the team. Overall, the core benefit of Agile methodology is in its name – your project can be more agile in addressing the newly emerging needs and meeting the new market trends.

Disadvantages of Agile Development

Short-term projects with a clearly defined scope of tasks, which require accomplishing in direct order, would not benefit from the agile development model. Such projects would be much better off following the waterfall model, so you must not pick the agile methodology just because it is trendy and you’ve heard good things about it. Though it is rather effective under certain circumstances, you should know everything about agile software development pros and cons to make an informed choice and achieve the results you need. So, here are some of the disadvantages and flaws of this model.

Lack of Understanding

The biggest problem with agile is that many people do not really understand what it is about, which leads people to make wrong assumptions and make mistakes along the way. Many executives want to become agile but do not invest time in an effort to actually learn what it means; some might even think that agility means doing whatever they want as long as they land at least somewhere near the target. What you must understand is that agility actually requires even more precision and control. More so, this approach does not fit all organizations and projects. That is why you must take the time to understand whether it fits your business or not. When it comes to software development projects, though, it is best to consult with your vendor and see which approach they deem feasible for your needs.

Flexibility Leads to Inconsistency

Lack of understanding might often lead to poor performance and blame-shifting. Such freedom and flexibility might lead some developers to think that they do not have to work as hard to meet their deadlines and postpone the completion of certain tasks to the next sprints. More so, the developers might even end up blaming the very concept of agility for their poor performance. 

To prevent such issues, you need a professional team of developers you can trust. Discipline and professionalism are pivotal for any agile project as no product can reach success without proper planning, relevant tools and equipment, and most importantly, a team of experts behind it. You need to base your project on the strong fundamentals and a proper understanding of the agile methodology if you want to ensure its successful delivery. An experienced software development partner can give you that extra confidence and make sure the developers do not slack around and perform at the top of their capacity. 

Lack of Predictability

This is an inherent issue of the Agile methodology, and you should either accept it or see it cripple your development process. Accepting the uncertainty is the key here, but many companies fail to do so and stumble upon this problem not knowing what to make of their project. If we are talking about a long-term project, the one that would take anywhere from 6 to 12 months or more to finish, this kind of uncertainty might cause much anxiety, especially if you and your business rely on the successful completion of the project. This lack of precise vision and proper planning is one of the primary reasons why some agile projects fail to accomplish their goals. That is exactly why you must embrace the uncertainty rather than push it and cause chaos in your development cycle. If you expect to make precise predictions 6 months into the future, the bad news for you is that you won’t be able to successfully use the Agile model.

Hiring More Developers

To be truly agile, a team must be able to handle a wide variety of tasks and deliver results without involving developers from the outside. In theory, an agile team must be able to deliver any solution, and though having such a team might sound attractive, it is nearly impossible to put together such a team without bloating it up with hundreds of developers who can cover all of your needs. Of course, some full-stack developers can cover a broad number of tasks and deliver spectacular results but even such versatile developers cannot cover everything. 

When it comes to agile projects that can evolve and change on the go, the people who finish it might not be the people who started it. Your team might change, shrink or expand depending on your needs, and you cannot count on the same people to do all the job. Of course, you can deal with that problem by working with a vendor who has a vast talent pool and can get you all the developers you need. Intersog offers you access to a talent pool of 250+ dedicated developers and gets you the exact people you need to get your project from start to finish. So, you will probably need quite a vast team of experts in case your project’s specs are going to change, and in case you do not find the right vendor, this might put a huge strain on your budget and cause some major delays in the development cycle. With Intersog, you can recompose your team whenever you need to accommodate the new requirements.

Emphasis on Cooperation

The agile approach requires constant communication and coordination, which is not ideal if you want to stay away from the development process. The development team will send you reports on each milestone regularly, and you will have to go through those reports and discuss the current state of things with the developers every now and then. This approach fits the hands-on managers best, and if you are not like that, you might experience certain difficulties running your project. If you do not have the time to stick to your team and stay in touch with it, the agile approach might not be your best bet.

Choose Your Development Methodology Wisely

Before you make a choice and change your approach to development completely or adopt new practices, you should know exactly what you are signing up for. You must know exactly what each model offers and consider whether it fits your culture and your business. More so, you need to find a development partner who can work within the frameworks of your chosen model and produce the results you want to see. 

The agile model is fairly considered to be rather effective for different types of projects but it has its limitations and you cannot just plug it in and hope for everything to just work miraculously. You should also consult with your development partner – if you work with reliable and experienced people, they will be able to give you some valuable advice on which model to go with for your project. At Intersog, we have 15 years of experience behind our backs and a team of true experts who can get your project going in such a way as to ensure the successful delivery of its objectives. To be truly successful with your agile project, you need to accept the uncertainty, reevaluate your views on cooperation and management, stay close to your team, and focus on achieving results every step of the way. That way you can get yourself a product that corresponds to all of your needs, is relevant and innovative, and gives you the return on investment you expect. 

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Intersog has been recognized as a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has been providing tech consulting, staffing and software development services for Fortune-500 companies, tech startups, and SaaS enterprises for more than fourteen years.