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What Is Agile Software Development?

In the early years of software development, product management was complicated, tedious, and, most of all, expensive. To make sure that they were getting their money’s worth out of legacy software systems, enterprises employed a software development methodology akin to Henry Ford’s assembly line: the waterfall methodology.

While this model guaranteed stakeholders got a product that would resemble what they scoped out, it was an outmoded approach that exposed the need for a new way of thinking — and a new way of managing software teams. Like a hot air balloon left behind by a rocket, the waterfall methodology was a lumbering, ineffective attempt to bring Machine Age methodologies to Computer Age needs.

These discrepancies only became more pronounced as software development itself changed. As businesses geared up for the new millennium, their teams were smaller, their software was more dynamic, and their markets were evolving faster than they could build digital products. Software developers and business leaders understood that a new approach was needed.

That’s why, in 2001, a group of software experts authored the Agile Manifesto. A product of shared experiences in a rapidly changing tech market, the Manifesto aimed to empower software development teams to create better digital tools. By understanding the core tenets and motivations of this methodology, today’s developers and tech stakeholders can take a more strategic, efficient approach to managing teams and delivering critical software.

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Understanding Agile Software Development

The Agile methodology takes an iterative, adaptable approach to what had otherwise been a rigid process. Where the waterfall methodology favored intensive planning, strict hierarchy, and little, if any, deviation from the project’s initial scope, Agile teams embrace communication, speed, and change at every stage of a product’s lifecycle.

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it,” the Manifesto begins. “Through this work we have come to value: individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, [and] responding to change over following a plan."

Agile is more than just a theoretical framework, however. It’s brought measurable value to software teams and streamlined the product development process — even beyond tech. For example, the 14th Annual State of Agile Report shows that 70% of Agile teams have reported improved management of changing priorities, 65% cite better project visibility and business/IT alignment, and 60% have seen faster time to market.

What Agile Software Development Entails

Enjoying these benefits means embracing key aspects of the Agile methodology. Agile teams meet daily to discuss what they’ve accomplished, what they plan to do, and what roadblocks they may be facing. Rather than monolithic product launches, Agile teams strive to deliver software iterations quickly, keeping clients updated along the way. By doing so, developers receive constant feedback and can smoothly integrate changes on the fly.

At VentureDevs, we make Agile methodologies work for your business. Whether you need to update legacy systems, scale an existing product, or create a new one from scratch, our software experts will leverage cutting-edge development practices to deliver products or augment teams that streamline digital tools, add value to your business, and position you strategically in your market.

In the next installment of our Agile series, we’ll break down the most popular Agile methodologies that are available to your team — and practiced by our experts.