Agile software development at a glance
JUNE 24, 2019 | SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT, AGILE | Reading time: 6 mins
1. What is Agile software development?
Agile software development is a work mindset that focuses on three basic things:
- Firstly, it emphasizes on lean culture that encourages continuous software improvement.
- Secondly, it employs lightweight methodologies that elaborate self-organizing and cross-functional teams.
- Finally, because customer needs are at the center of Agile, it shifts software engineers from traditional project-based mindset to product-based one.
Therefore, Agile allows new generations of software developers to get flexible and adaptive to changes in planning and engineering, and during product improvement. In addition, it enables frequent product deliveries at minimum costs, time, and waste to increase product quality and customer’s satisfaction.
2. Agile methodologies and frameworks
When we speak of Agile, we speak of a way of working that entails a range of today’s widely-adopted lightweight frameworks and methods. Not surprisingly, they includes more than 40 Agile methods (see below). The most popular are Scrum, XP, Crystal, among others, whose inventions dated from the early 1940s to the 1990s, before the term “Agile” was coined (please read on to see why).
Reproduced from Barry Overeem (n.d.)
2.1 Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP)
According to the father of Scrum Jeff Sutherland, January of the year 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the first Scrum team in operation. In fact, Scrum was introduced by Jeff and his fellow Ken Schwaber to the OOPSLA Conference audience in 1995. One year later, Extreme Programming (famously known as XP) was also invented and “mushroomed in use and interest” soon after, according to one of the agile founders Jim Highsmith (2001).
If you’re interested in Scrum, read A Beginner’s Guide to Agile Scrum for Software Development Teams.
A Fit for XP training course provided by Axon Active
In the case of Kanban, it originated from the Toyota Production System (TPS) method. It was also known by the name just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, and later lean manufacturing. In fact, the method was invented in the late 1940s – early 1950s by Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno as an answer for his urge to stay ahead of the fierce competition at that time. Later, software industry adopted this waste-eliminating, time-saving method in the software production cycles and observed equivalent successes. During this period, PDCA was also adopted by Toyota and other like-minded companies. Short for plan – do – check – act, or plan – do – check – adjust, it enables corporations to build workforces that had critical-thinking, highly-innovative, problem-solving skills. These skills have been vital for companies to adapt to changeable contexts and secure the market leaders’ status quo.
3. History of Agile software development
As the world had become more and more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), the traditional approaches from the taylorism time (industrial age) – like waterfall, which focused on machine processes and standardized processes were quickly falling off. Indeed, they failed at dealing with today’s increasingly-complex problems, unpredictable requirements, and challenging impediments that inevitably occur. Meanwhile, some of the best lightweight frameworks and methods which were invented based on the empirical process – like Scrum, had demonstrated to be progressively capable of tackling these issues in a much effective manner.
3.2 The birth of “Agile”
Burning with curiosity, 17 respectable software engineers had brought this observation to the table in a sit-down in Utah (USA) in 2001. In search for what makes these lightweight methodologies and frameworks amazingly effective compared to the traditional ways of working, they found some of the best values that are shared between Scrum, XP, DSDM, Crystal, among others, to be “Agile”. This was when the term “Agile” was coined and the Manifesto for Agile Software development was drafted and introduced to the world, allowing the software industry to take the revolutionary shape as we see it today.
3.3 The focus of Agile Manifesto
According to agilemanifesto.org, the Manifesto reflects “better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it” by putting more focus on individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. Meanwhile, it minimizes the use of “processes and tools”, “comprehensive documentation”, “contract negotiation” and “following a plan”, in order to maximize the Agile effects.
4. Applications of Agile in and outside software industry
4.1 According to VersionOne Collabnet
Though invented by software developers to address key problems in the software industry, the agile philosophy provably works in many areas. In reality, Agile methods and practices have been applied successfully in a wide variety of industries, such as:
- Media and Entertainment
- Industrial manufacturing
- Consumer products
Reproduced from: VersionOne CollabNet 2018
4.2 From Axon Active’s experience
Within a decade of offering agile software development services to clients around the world, Axon Active also works with and observes a number of other industries where Agile software development is in great demand, including:
- Information storage
- Human resources management
- Business process management
- Real estate
4.3 Other applications
Agile is even reaching out beyond the business world. The Secrets of Happy Families author, Bruce Feiler, put his New York-based audience in awe introducing how he’s used basic Agile practices in managing household matters and raising his children. Watch his “Agile programming — for your family” TED talk in 2013 for more information.
5. What makes Agile worthwhile
5.1 Twelve Agile principles
The successful applications of Agile in both formal and informal contexts can be attributed to the 12 underpinning “backbone” principles created by the founders of Agile software development. These 12 principles focus on:
- Clients’ satisfaction
- Flexible adaption to changeable requirements
- Short time to market
- Daily communication between clients and development teams
- Developers who feel trusted and supported
- Face-to-face conversation among development team members
- Working software as the primary measure
- Sustainable development
- Continuous attention to technical and design details
- Self-organizing teams
- Reflection and adjustment of the team
5.2 Reasons for using Agile
Because of above principles, Agile practitioners the world over have recognized several top convincing reasons for using Agile as announced in the latest 12th annual State of Agile Report 2018, including:
- Accelerate software delivery – 75%
- Manage changing priorities – 64%
- Increase productivity – 55%
- Better Business/IT alignment – 49%
- Increased software quality – 46%
Reproduced from: VersionOne CollabNet’s 2018 12th Annual State of Agile Report
5.3 Benefits of Agile working methodologies at Axon Active
5.3.1 Major benefits
As a successful software outsourcing company in Vietnam for clients based in the US and Europe, Axon Active has observed numerous benefits generated by Agile software development, such as:
- Increased team satisfaction
- Enhanced team productivity
- Better product quality
- Rapid response to changes
- Complete transparency for both clients and outsourcing teams
- Financial benefits such as increased sales, reduced support costs, limited/no negative publicity, and increased customer satisfaction.
5.3.2 Other benefits
Along with these benefits, Axon Active’s embodiment of agile frameworks and practices through its software developing processes has enabled it to maximize other important effects of software outsourcing services for clients on the other side of the globe. Some of these effects are:
- higher flexibility
- easy scalability
- software outsourcing team’s absolute concentration
- client’s full control over the team
- shorter time-to-market
6. Agile-DevOps synergy
Due to the fact that Agile effectiveness is inversely proportional to the scale of projects and organizational contexts, many Agile practitioners are adopting DevOps. DevOps is another software development mindset that takes Agile a step further. To do that, it joins software development team and IT operation team into cross-functional squads. These squads are tasked to handle full life-cycle of projects instead of different discrete phases traditionally. As a result, it enables automated testing, deployment and monitoring and applying the same process for all deployment.
For that reason, Agile-DevOps combination at Axon Active makes it possible to save time and cost and increase agility, quality and efficiency during software development processes.
A documented trend among world’s tech giants
In the 2018 VersionOne State of Agile report, a consistent 71% of the majority of Agile practitioners surveyed are currently applying DevOps or planning to use DevOps in the next 12 months. It is because DevOps allows them to deliver outputs faster and more efficiently in such scenarios.
What’s more, in 2018, successful adoption of DevOps-Agile movements was observed in big corporations such as Amazon, Netflix, Target, Walmart, Facebook, Adobe, or Sony Pictures Entertainment. Following this trend, Axon Active is also using DevOps in software development services. Learn more about our agile working methodologies and practices.
Reproduced from: VersionOne CollabNet’s 2018 12th Annual State of Agile Report
7. Agile trends for 2019-2020
We believe by bringing about obvious benefits for both software outsourcing teams and clients, Agile software development will become an even more common practice for a growing number of IT professionals. DevOps adoption will also be a notable trend among Agile practitioners in 2019-2020 due to the soaring demand of applying Agile software development methodologies into projects and organizations of larger scales in years to come.
We are the offshore partner you’re looking for
Looking for a well-versed, reliable offshore agile software outsourcing partner? Axon Active has years of experience in developing agile software and applications for web and mobile platforms. We are the only organization in Vietnam that provides official Scrum Alliance’s Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner certifications. Besides that, the exclusive Scrum and Agile coaching has enabled distinguished clients such as Soreco (Switzerland), CRIF (Switzerland), Metabiota (USA), H&L (Australia), among others, to successfully adopt agile and observe major agile transformation over the years.
Mr. Lee Atkins, Chief Innovation Officer of H&L Australia, one of the partners we’ve been working with for many years, said: “[Axon Active’s] understanding and practice of Agile were at a very high level. We really appreciate the way in which they embrace this new way of working, particularly in software development.”
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