Agile software project management is fast becoming one of the most popular alternatives to traditional project management techniques such as sequential development.
Coined by Dr Winston Royce as early as 1970, agile project management first appeared in a paper called ‘Managing the Development of Large Software Systems.’ He explained that the tasks in a project shouldn’t be completed in ‘sequential phases’ or individually like a product on an assembly line. Dr Royce advised against developers to collect all the requirements of the project before starting, creating the architecture, writing the code and so on. Instead, he suggested that the project should be continually developed to meet the needs of the current industry.
How does agile software project management work?
Rather than tackling tasks one by one in consecutive order, agile software project management involves conducted regular ‘sprints.’ This is where tasks are completed incrementally and employees have several chances to perfect their particular task for the software - as opposed to the waterfall methodology where employees only get one chance to get it right before sending the product / software on to the next team.
The team will usually stop at regular intervals to reassess which direction the project needs to go in. If they do need to approach it in a different direction then they can - as with agile project management there’s always time!
General success rate of agile software
In short, agile software projects tend to be more customer-focused and enhances collaboration between teams like no other project management methodology. A recent survey by HP revealed that 51% of IT professionals strongly leaned towards the agile movement, with a further 24% mixing agile with another technique. There are several big advantages of going agile, which indicates it can be a very successful methodology to adopt. There are several anecdotal advantages of successfully executing agile for software projects - some of which are more prevalent than other. This can be summarised in five key elements:
Enhances collaboration by bringing together departments and teams that wouldn’t normally work together.
Improves software quality throughout the company
Increases customer satisfaction
Improves time efficiency
Reduces development costs
Main successful characteristics of agile
There are a number of successful characteristics that come with agile development. This includes:
Highly focused for fixed lengths of time: The ‘sprints’ are usually fixed length so everyone can see how each hour on the project counts. The team will naturally refine the software in time for the next ‘sprint.’ When the team perfects the process they will continuously improve the software - drawing from best practices.
Tested software that works: This is, of course, the main measure of agile’s success. Architecture, design and usability are constantly evaluated, so there’s always evidence that the software is working. It’s easier for clients and managers to see that the software is going the way they want it to - which is especially useful for software development agencies and their clients as the project is highly measurable.
Helps clients discover what they actually need: Agile involves continuous planning based on solid data and isn’t bound by the original features required by the client. This means, as development improves throughout the process, the client may find that their needs have changed entirely.
Reduced risk of failure: Thanks to continuous testing, agile means the risk of failure through defects is greatly reduced. Every aspect of the software is fixed before moving on to the next step, so if there are problems later on in the project there won’t be a need to delve deep into the software to fix it.
In conclusion, agile development methodology can be a much better way to build an effective product to meet the client’s needs. Agile means professionals can optimise the software on a continuous basis - including replanning releases and ensuring the software is always relevant for an ever-changing market or industry.