Agile project management is a distinct methodology in software development rooted in taking an incremental approach to software design instead of a sequential approach. This means that instead of the workflow beginning at the start and concluding at the end, specific tasks are assigned to and completed by individuals or team members without any pre-determined starting point or ending point.
As an example, it is akin to how movies are typically made. The various scenes that comprise the whole film are shot without any specific attention to the order in which they will appear in the final cut. Rather, more consideration is given to which one is the most convenient to shoot at the moment.
The agile school of thought was introduced into the software development space by the launch of the Manifesto for Software Development along with its 12 guiding principles back in 2001. Since its publication, many different methodologies have been built around the principles of this manifesto. These include Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Scrumban, and most recently DevOps.
Fail-fast is the major driving principle behind many agile software development practices such as test-driven development and continuous integration. Applying the fail-fast principle makes bugs and failures appear sooner, and this enables developers to reduce their costs and stabilize software faster.
So, is agile the best approach to software development available for companies to take today? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons for you to consider.
The Pros of Agile Project Management:
1. It Allows for Faster Completion
With no constraints of a specified structure, the project can be completed much faster as each developer has the freedom to focus on exactly what they do best instead of what must come next.
2. It Offers Much More Adaptability
Unlike a linear process where all the progress has to be rolled back if a problem is detected at the start, agile development enables changes to made only to the particular parts of the project that need them.
3. Tighter Feedback Loops
This is closely related to the above. End users are able to give feedback on each module as it is completed and tested, so that the final product is a more tailored solution suited to their specific needs.
4. It Encourages Team Collaboration
Due to the fact that different parts of the software have to come from different individuals or teams, agile development pushes the whole group to communicate transparently for maximum success.
5. It Is Much Easier to Manage Costs
Agile development is also easier for clients to finance because they can pay in installments as each module of the project is completed instead of having to fork out a hefty lump sum payment at once.
The Cons of Agile Project Management:
1. It Requires Great Management at The Top
The lack of a clear start and finish points means that a talented leader is needed to stitch together all the separate modules from the individual employees/teams into a cohesive and coherent software. If there is not a strong manager to complete this function, the product will fail.
2. It Requires Willpower from Developers
Having no pre-determined course of action offers the sweet freedom to create one’s own path, but this can be counterproductive for developers who may not have the willpower to work without deadlines.
3. It Requires Collaboration from The Client
Agile project management will not work if a client isn’t invested in the project. It requires an extensive time commitment from the end user, and they may not be prepared for this time expenditure.
4. It Is Vulnerable to Sudden Staffing Losses
Unlike sequential development where a new hire can easily take over, losing a developer mid-way can devastate an agile project because their unique skills become indispensable to their individual module.
5. It Is Hard to Schedule the Results of Agile
Some clients may need the project to be completed within a specific window and yet agile methodology always prioritizes quality over speed. It’s often difficult to predict when a project will be completed.
Have you chosen the right software development methodology?
Agile project management clearly comes with both pros and cons that require careful deliberation about your organization’s unique principles, beliefs and industry before making any crucial decisions. Most importantly, you need a seasoned Agile professional to be a part of any Agile project.
Let the professionals at ASB Resources guide your company in formulating and deploying the best software development methodology aligned with the realities of the product you are making. Schedule a call with one of our experts today!