Opinion: How the 'Agile Manifesto' can evolve modern software development

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Software development is like taking a great expedition into unknown territory. As with any big endeavor, planning is paramount to success. You must organize for the unexpected, anticipate changing conditions that could throw you off course, and be prepared to adjust accordingly and continue along your journey.

Over the decades, software development became lengthy, inefficient, and inflexible. Teams grew and spread across multiple offices and time zones, efficiencies were lost, and multidisciplinary collaboration was stifled. A process revolution was desperately needed, and luckily, one was delivered nearly 15 years ago that still remains relevant to this day.

Getting Agile With Development

In 2001, a group of software pundits got together to define a methodology based on best practices they found in their own respective careers. They called the resulting 12 principles the “Agile Manifesto” — a list of processes that place high value on face-to-face collaboration, fast and frequent releases, using working software as a measure of progress, and a willingness to accept and embrace change.

There is a lot to be gained from following the Agile Manifesto when developing digital products. PayPal, for example, says it has experienced a productivity rise of 29 percent since embracing an agile approach, and Hotels.com says it successfully cut down its development life cycle from 26 weeks to just two weeks.

If that’s not enough evidence for you, here’s a rundown of six advantages you can gain by adopting the Agile Manifesto:

  • Speed to market: Legacy development methodologies can require anywhere from six months to one year to get a software product to market. Agile, on the other hand, is oriented toward fast, frequent releases. Products are developed iteratively, with new and improved versions released as often as every few weeks.
  • Value maximization: The longer you withhold a technology product from the market, the longer you deprive your customer base of your product’s value. In turn, you also deprive your organization of data and insights from user behavior. With the fast and frequent releases of an agile approach, you both deliver and gain value as you iterate, thus increasing your competitive advantage.
  • The ability to change course: Change is inevitable and vital in software development. While traditional methodologies are often structured around lengthy planning periods and fixed statements of intent, the Agile Manifesto accommodates and encourages change, giving your brand the flexibility to pivot as new variables develop in the marketplace.
  • Eliminating the black box: The agile method celebrates the development process, not just the finished product. Unlike traditional methodologies where long development periods keep clients in the dark — often referred to as the “black box” — agile methodologies measure progress with working software and not artificial milestones.
  • A better team structure: Traditional software development tends to favor large teams across multiple locations, which makes personal communication difficult. Face-to-face collaboration between developers is vital for working creatively and efficiently as a team. That’s why the agile manifesto prioritizes small, collocated teams.
  • Reflection and refinement: The Agile Manifesto encourages frequent reflection and analysis of previous sprints to inform stronger performance in future sprints. This continual refinement delivers sustainable value that strengthens the velocity of the team over time. 

We live in a rapidly evolving world where change is the only constant. It comes at us from every direction, making it essential for brands to be flexible in the midst of developing software. Think about all the technological and business-related progress that occurs in the world during a typical development release cycle. Traditional methodologies that require long-term fixed plans with no flexibility directly contradict today’s reality. 

The Agile Manifesto acknowledges, embraces, and harnesses change into a competitive advantage for brands — making it the best guide for navigating the uncharted, uncertain, and unpredictable wilderness of software development.

Do you adopt the 'Agile Manifesto' for your software development? Let us know in the comments.

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