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Delivery Manager at Relevant Software

Agile Software Development Lifecycle Phases Explained

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The dominance of the Agile concept in modern business reality is becoming more and more evident. And the next fifteenth State of Agile Report from Digital.ai, published in July 2021, confirmed this.

It has become a tradition for Agile followers in various industries and fields to study data, watch statistics, and compare the dynamics in developing this flexible method of collaboration.

We have inspected this report as we at Relevant also use the Agile methodology to deliver software.

In this article, we will refer to statistics to confirm some points. Now, let’s look at the intrinsic motivations and benefits of moving to an agile development methodology.

company experience with agile
Source: 15th Annual State of Agile Report by Digital.ai

Why Agile?

Any modern organization must react quickly to changing market trends driven by fierce competition and dynamic customer requirements. And it is Agile that is changing the paradigm of how companies operate in the digital world.

Agile is categorized into its subset of project management methodologies: Adaptive Software Development, Extreme Programming, Lean Software Development, Dynamic Systems Development Method, Feature-Based Development, Kanban (depending on usage), Scrum, etc. We have described many of them in our blog. This post aims to answer the question: why is Agile so prevalent in the software development industry?

That is understandable because of the flexible, iterative, and incremental character of Agile. Companies can focus on the essentials without forgetting about the product or services they want to launch. Development teams can consistently adapt their approach as they progress, gaining consistent feedback on their product.

As stated in Agile Report, the pace of Agile adoption in both IT teams and other groups has doubled this year. Almost half of the respondents focused on business value (49%) and customer satisfaction (49%). In addition, a 45% increase in delivery speed is considered an equally important indicator of flexibility.

We found that Scrum ranked as the most used Agile approach in the 2021 report. 66% of people use it. Another 15% chose Scrum derivatives (ScrumBan 9% and Scrum / XP 6%).

What is meant by Agile SDLC?

The Agile SDLC methodology is based on joint decision-making between teams and cyclical, iterative progress of creating working software. The work is done in regularly repeating sprints, which are usually a few weeks.

That contrasts markedly with the time frame of traditional project management, which sometimes stretches indefinitely.

The Agile SDLC model emphasizes process adaptability and customer satisfaction by rapidly delivering a working software product.

Agile methods break the product down into small incremental builds that are provided in iterations. At the end of the iteration, the developers show the customer and other interested parties a work product that contains all the customer’s functionality.

Each iteration usually lasts from one to three weeks and includes:

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  • Planning
  • Analyzing
  • Architectural design
  • Coding
  • Unit testing
  • Acceptance testing
  • Delivery
  • Feedback

You repeat the steps until all items in the product backlog are complete. There is a cyclical rather than a linear process. The sequence is visible on the Agile software development life cycle diagram.

According to the Agile model, each project is handled differently, and existing methods are adapted to fit the project’s requirements best. You focus on more achievable goals that guide your team’s immediate actions.

What are the benefits of Agile for your businesses?

Agile project management is reminiscent of the Pareto principle, known as the 80/20 rule (20% of the effort gives 80% of the result, and the remaining 80% of the action gives only 20% of the effect) vice versa. 

With Agile SDLC, you get 80% of the product delivered in just 20% of the time. It focused your attention on the main parts of the software that bring real value to the clients and the project.

The advantages of the methodology are so transparent. We can describe each point in one sentence. So, with Agile, you will have access to:

  • Agile delivery and functionality demonstration.
  • Minimum resource requirements.
  • A sensible approach to software development.
  • Productive collaboration and cross-training.
  • The ability to use in a constantly changing environment and with fixed or changing needs.
  • Early provision of partially working solutions.
  • Minimum rules and easy-to-use documentation.
  • Possibility of parallel development and delivery within a familiar planned context.
  • Easy handling and great flexibility.

And here are the Agile advantages noted by the users of the methodology:

advantages of agile methodology
Source: 15th Annual State of Agile Report by Digital.ai

Why did our company choose Agile in software development?

We asked Vlad Prokopyk, Project manager at Relevant Software, to answer this question:

“Each organization has its reasons to be more flexible. For example, at Relevant, we want to deliver products of the highest quality, respond faster to market demands, get the job done at a lower cost, and stay ahead of our competitors. At our company, flexibility is everything: product quality, delivery speed, profitability, and team collaboration. But the biggest benefit is that clients have more control over the situation. We are flexible in responding to changes in their needs, and the product always meets their expectations.

I often hear the question – when is the Agile model most appropriate? I would answer it this way – it is always right when you want to be sensitive to market changes and work with any resources available to you at the moment. Agile helps you reduce or eliminate wasteful and meaningless activities.

Agile software development evades strict prohibitions because it puts people, their communication, and effort to create a quality product at the head of everything. Agile allows developers to independently decide what they can do in a set time interval. At the end of the iteration, get a working piece of software installed, tested, and presented to the client. Thus, the developers build an actual product approved by the client, which is crucial to achieving the best result in the shortest possible time”.

The fundamental principles of Agile development

When 17 software developers came up with a new way of developing software almost 20 years ago, they did not know how quickly their ideas would spread outside their industry. These principles of incremental development made the Agile model what it is today.

  1. The top priority is customer satisfaction through the timely and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Changes in agile processes are used to create a competitive advantage for customers.
  3. Changing requirements is possible even at a later stage of development.
  4. Working software is delivered in a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for shorter terms. And this is the primary indicator of progress.
  5. Employers and developers need to be in contact daily throughout the project.
  6. Motivated people create projects in the right environment and with the proper support.
  7. Self-organizing teams make the best requirements, architectures, and designs.
  8. The most effective method of communicating information to and within the development team is face-to-face communication.
  9. The team should regularly review their performance metrics and tune and adjust their performance accordingly.
  10. Agile processes contribute to sustainable development. Investors, developers, and users must move at a constant pace.
  11. A relentless focus on technical excellence and impeccable design enhance maneuverability.
  12. Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work in progress – is essential.

Key agile software development lifecycle phases

The agile lifecycle is a structured series of stages that a product goes through. It consists of six phases:

Requirements

Stakeholders conduct an overall project assessment to determine the time and resources required for the development process. At the same stage, the owner assesses the risks and prioritizes the various functions depending on their business value.

Design

The software owner meets with the software development team and introduces them to the requirements outlined in the first step. The group then discusses the sequence for introducing functions and identifies the essential tools – the programming language, syntax libraries, and basic frameworks. At the same stage, software development teams can prototype the expected user interface.

Development and coding

After agreeing on the plan with the customer, the team develops the product itself. The product is delivered in stages, in separate sprints, each designed to improve the current version of the product. The initial release is likely to undergo many changes to provide improved functionality and new features.

Each cycle includes testing, and the final product must also undergo final testing. For this phase, you can use Scrum and the Kanban methodology, the development process based on individual tasks.

Integration and testing

At this point, the product becomes available to consumers, so the team must conduct a series of tests to ensure that the software is fully functional. If potential bugs or flaws are found, the developers will fix them immediately. At this stage, they also collected consumer feedback.

Implementation and deployment

The software is now fully deployed and available to customers. This action puts him in the maintenance phase. During this phase, the software development team provides ongoing support to keep the system running smoothly and fix any new bugs. Over time, further iterations are possible to update an existing product or add other functionality.

Review

That is the last stage of the Agile development cycle. After completing all the previous stages of development, the development team presents to the owner the result achieved in meeting the requirements. After that, the Agile software development phases start over – either with a new iteration or moving to the next stage and scaling Agile.

Key Agile Software Development Lifecycle Phases

Agile techniques and tools

All software development methodologies are classified as adaptive and predictive. The Agile SDLC is part of the adaptive subcategory, while the V-shape, Waterfall, Iterative, and Spiral models are part of the predictive approach. They are all designed with various development requirements and expectations in mind, which vary from company to company.

V-shape SDLC

Since the process is based on a waterfall model, it “flows like water,” meaning the development team goes through the various stages of the SDLC step by step. Each stage ends with testing, and the group moves on to the next only after completing the previous stage.

This model is also called validation verification because the test helps to check if all requirements are met. And the team can move on to another phase of software development.

With the V-shaped SDLC model, you cannot go back a step to fix or add something. If your product is new, has many features that need to be implemented, or is unsure of the final functionality, this model is unlikely to suit you.

Iterative SDLS

You can use an iterative approach in projects without an extensive list of requirements. You only need functional requirements, which you can extend later in the development process.

The model covers all stages of SDLC, from requirements to design, coding, testing, and turning back to requirements. The process is repeated and allows you to create a new version of the product for each cycle.

Repetitive iterations are both an advantage and a disadvantage of this model. You should use this process wisely. Otherwise, it can quickly drain resources because of unnecessary changes. An iterative approach will not work for startups and companies with limited financial resources.

Spiral SDLC

The entire development process is broken down into small steps followed by teams. The final project performance is highly dependent on the risk assessment process, which requires a detailed inspection of each iteration. Therefore, to evaluate a project from time to time, unique talents are needed. Spiral models are preferred for large, expensive, and complex projects.

Waterfall SDLC

The waterfall model is considered the oldest among the SDLC models and underlies several other approaches to software development, such as the V-shaped and spiral models. The Waterfall model uses a linear path where you need to complete one phase before moving on to the next. Each stage depends on the previous one, and there is no turning back.

Inflexibility is the major drawback of the waterfall. Projects based on the waterfall model are easy to manage, but rework is no longer possible once completed. That makes it difficult to solve any problem that arises.

Can Agile be combined with other methodologies?

At first glance, the confrontation between software development life cycle models and methodologies is natural because they offer different ways to achieve the goal.

For example, let’s compare the software development lifecycle of waterfall vs. agile development.

A waterfall is a forecasting technique. Step A precedes step B, and so on. Product performance is guaranteed, and there is no way to revise any step. Any delay during the project will delay delivery.

Agile is more dynamic. As developers divide the project into smaller parts, they can create sections of working code at the end of each sprint. This time-boxing method ensures that the customer receives functional software throughout the entire project.

Sometimes, the choice between traditional vs Agile SDLC is worth ditching and mixing methods. Agile and waterfall can coexist well in the same space. Both provide visible benefits and are suitable for a variety of projects. 

For example, many tech companies can launch their infrastructure projects (installing servers or creating other physical environments) with waterfall and build their software applications using Agile.

Likewise, many application development teams use Agile methodologies, and managers make high-level plans using the more traditional Waterfall methods.

The bottom line is that today’s world still needs the rigidity of the Waterfall model and the flexibility of the Agile approach. It is only necessary to remember that communication is critical when mixing the two in the same environment.

How do agile methodologies excel in the remote work era?

Undoubtedly, the most notable development of the past year has been the shift to much more remote work and the subsequent increase in distributed teams. 

According to the report, most developers and IT professionals plan to work remotely for the foreseeable future, and only 3% would like to return to the office. 25% of respondents say they will remain utterly remote in the world after COVID-19, and 56% favor a hybrid approach – with regular, but not daily, office visits.

The State of Agile Report showed that two tools, Digital.ai Agility (70%) and Atlassian Jira (81%), are used and recommended the most. In scaling frameworks, the Scaled Agile Framework remains the most popular. 37% of those surveyed define it as the basis that they follow most closely. 

SAFe significantly outperforms the closest scaling method – ScrumBan (9%). We at Relevant consider SAFe as the most suitable solution for large enterprises to manage the long lifecycle of multiple products on a scale. Regarding other agile methods and practices used in software product development services, the usage statistics are:

  • Daily stand-ups – 87%
  • Retrospectives – 83%
  • Iteration / Sprint Planning – 83%
  • Kanban boards – 77%
  • Quest Boards – 67%
  • Flexible planning tables – 66%
Which Agile Planning and Delivery Tools Do You Currently Use?
Source: 15th Annual State of Agile Report by Digital.ai

Pros of a remote Agile team

Dedicated Agile teams are preferred for various reasons, including the flexibility to work around the clock on projects and the attraction of solid talent from less competitive markets. Let’s dwell on the advantages of a remote Agile team:

  • Flexible working hours around the clock: since team members live in different time zones, companies can support projects around the clock. Give your team complete leeway to balance their work hours and get the job done at a steady pace.
  • Iterative project development: a flexible approach gives a dedicated software development team the ability to implement a logical structure that facilitates iterative development and team collaboration, emphasizing quality and efficiency.
  • Practical work: Instead of spending months working on a product or update, remote Agile teams can complete a development cycle in days or even hours.
  • Access to diverse talents: remote collaboration makes it possible to attract highly qualified developers worldwide.
  • Fewer work interruptions: unlike traditional office spaces, where outages can always occur, people working independently in remote locations have fewer distractions and more time to think and focus on their work.
  • Improved documentation: as remote teams document more workflows to share status, goals, and results, documentation becomes more robust.
  • Cost savings: Organizations don’t have to pay for office space, utilities, and other essentials to accommodate employees in typical office environments.

Challenges and opportunities of Agile SDLC application when working with distributed teams

As noted in the State of Agile Report, “Almost 97% of software companies are already using agile software development.” But because feature-driven development depends on continuous collaboration, it cannot be accessible with a remote team. 

After all, as team members move away from each other, they are less likely to share personal experiences, and communication loses its richness. Below, we provide ways to overcome these communication difficulties:

  • Define communication channels. Agile prioritizes fast and effective team communication to create products that meet customer needs and expectations.
    Using Agile methodologies, teams replace traditional and formal communication processes with simple forms. That permits clients and development teams to work in an open communication environment. Back-channel communication, in which teams can have background conversations during meetings, is part of this approach to collaboration. Frequent communication leads to increased productivity of the development team and, therefore, a better end product. However, remember that people disconnect if meetings happen too often or rarely.
  • Implement standards and adhere to them. Remote agile teams must practice trust, open communication, and discipline to guide their self-organization. Planning, setting, and achieving common goals must follow the rules adopted by the team.
  • Create your own culture of accountability. That can be tricky when everyone is working remotely. In-house Agile teams use daily meetings to track faults, but remote teams do not have an option. The dedicated development team can use tools like Crystal. Unlike more fixed frameworks, such as Scrum, Crystal allows distributed teams to work more autonomously and plan their actions depending on the project’s priority and software development team structure.
  • Use all available remote work tools. Since each team member works remotely, all communication takes place on the Internet. Therefore, they need to be equipped with all the tools that remote teams need.
  • Remember that you are a team. Teamwork is critical for remote agile programming projects and includes planning and collaborative problem-solving. Planning happens during the web meetings that define each sprint. Groups share their progress and discuss daily scrum and post scrum meetings, for example, using scrum boards.
  • Focus on continuous quality improvement. The methodology ensures that processes and practices are maximized throughout the entire project lifecycle. Modifications should achieve specific goals, such as shortening lead times, improving communication, and solving problems.
6 Tips for Running Agile Teams Remotely

Agile roadmap

By choosing the Agile SDLC model, you must follow a rational plan to ensure a smooth transition to design and development for your company.

Define goals

It would help if you had a clear idea of what you want. Keep in mind. However, you can adjust structure, governance, and performance throughout the transformation.

Get management support 

Agile transformation requires a visible change in all areas of the business and support from senior management.

Develop a transformation roadmap

Determine what needs to be done, how long it will take, and how the company will benefit. A clear roadmap will help you merge and organize all of your plans and schedule in one picture.

Make a plan for three months

This plan should list everything that will happen in the company over the next three months, considering further planning, assessment, and progressive change.

Adapt and learn

Sometimes the last vision can change to accommodate all the transformations. But mature Agile teams achieve their project goals 21% more often than inexperienced teams.

Link actions to results

To achieve the best results in business, you must constantly experiment, test hypotheses, and get results based on the knowledge gained. Of course, you cannot predict all actions in advance, but you can learn to sequence the results to be achieved and ensure that all actions meet the desired goals.

Provide transparency for everyone involved

Make sure that your team understands what’s going on and is prepared to stick to the rules. Ensure accountability, clarity, and measurable progress for all.

Tips for Implementing Agile in Your Company

Output

The agile software development life cycle aims to build and deliver flawlessly working software on a tight schedule. Agile workflow helps teams cope with unexpected scenarios while proactively pursuing business values and enhancing productivity by working together and understanding specific needs and roles.

Want to know more? Read other articles related to agile, development, and outsourcing In our blog. Well, if you’re looking to hire a software development team that has embraced Agile and provided its clients with outstanding results, Relevant is here to help you!

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Written by
Delivery Manager at Relevant Software
I ensure delivery excellence and high-quality of software development services our company provides. We carefully pick each employee and stick to high standards of product development to ensure the highest quality of code.

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