The Agile Software Development Life Cycle

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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The Agile Software Development Life Cycle

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Gain in-depth knowledge of the Agile software development life cycle, including its stages, Agile values, and how Agile methodologies increase efficiency in your software development processes.
Published on
December 14, 2023
Updated on
December 26, 2023

To create competitive products and services, teams work to adapt quickly to changing customer needs, market demands, and new technologies. It may be helpful to adopt Agile, an iterative, flexible software development methodology that prioritizes rapid prototyping, teamwork, and continuous improvement.

This article explores the phases of Agile methodology, its pros and cons, and the Agile development cycle. It also discusses how Revelo can help you hire top Agile development experts.

What Is the Agile Development Life Cycle?

Agile is an umbrella term for a set of practices and frameworks based on the principles and values expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Companies that follow the Agile process use the Agile development lifecycle to create products.

Agile has four central values:

  1.  Collaboration and teamwork are more important than working independently
  2.  Working high-quality software is more important than comprehensive documentation
  3.  Customer collaboration and feedback are more important than contract negotiation
  4.  Responding to change is more important than following a plan

The Agile development lifecycle structure may change depending on your chosen project management methodology. 

For instance, if you are in a Scrum team, you’ll work in Sprints, or short periods where a set amount of work will be completed on a project. Your team will also have clearly defined roles to deliver working software, such as product owner and Scrum master. Product owners are responsible for maximizing the product value resulting from the team's work, while Scrum masters lead the Scrum team by facilitating collaboration and communication to prevent sprint backlog. 

In contrast, members of Kanban teams don't usually have clearly defined roles. In fact, Kanban teams originally did not assign any roles. However, two roles have emerged in recent years: the Service Delivery Manager and the Service Request Manager. The Service Delivery Manager ensures a smooth workflow and leads meetings, while the Service Request Manager understands and interprets clients' expectations and needs.

6 Stages of the Agile Software Development Life Cycle

There are 6 stages of the Agile software development life cycle (SDLC): concept, inception, iteration, release, maintenance, and retirement. Note that the Agile SDLC may vary depending on a team’s project resources as well as which development method an Agile team chooses. Below are the 6 stages of the Agile Life Cycle which are most commonly found across methodologies. 

1. Concept

During the concept stage, the product owner determines the project's scope. They will discuss requirements with clients, prepare documentation about the project, and estimate the cost and time of potential projects. The product owner will prioritize the most important projects if there are multiple projects. 

2. Inception

After outlining the concept, the product owner will start building the software development team. Once the team is assembled, it will prototype the project's interface and architecture. The product owner will also use stakeholder feedback to flesh out requirements and determine product functionality. 

3. Iteration

Iteration or development usually lasts the longest and requires the most effort. During this stage, the development team will collaborate with user interface (UX) designers to convert customer feedback and product requirements into code until working software is delivered. The main goal of this phase is to create the necessary product functionality by the end of the first phase. In the following phases, the team will integrate user feedback, make modifications, and add new features accordingly.

4. Release

Before releasing the product, the quality assurance (QA) team will run several QA tests to identify and fix bugs. These may include:

  • Unit testing: Evaluates each back-end and front-end component's functionality and performance
  • Integration testing: Integrates software modules to test them as a group
  • Acceptance testing: Determines whether the project has met a contract or specification

After removing all bugs, the team will prepare the product for launch. Team members may offer training to help end users become acquainted with software. 

5. Maintenance

Now that the software is fully deployed and available to end users, the development team will move on to the maintenance phase. The team will release new product iterations to replace older versions with bug fixes, upgrades, and new features. They may provide additional training to ensure users understand how to use the product.

6. Retirement

When software becomes outdated or incompatible with a company, it will enter the retirement phase. The software development team will notify users before the software's retirement. If a new replacement software is available, the team will ensure a smooth transition to the new system. Afterward, the development team will terminate support for the retired software.

Agile Methodology Pros and Cons

The main benefits of Agile include increased visibility, decreased risk, increased customer satisfaction, and increased product quality. Disadvantages of Agile include lack of a clear ending, scope creep, high demands on time, and lack of suitability for long-term projects.

Agile methodology also includes several project management methodologies: Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, and Lean. Below are the pros and cons of each of these Agile methodologies:

Scrum

Scrum is commonly used in the software development process. Unlike traditional software development, it requires teams to break work down into goals that must be completed within iterations called Sprints. Each Sprint lasts two weeks to a month. Scrum teams hold several regular meetings, including planning the next sprint, daily standups, and sprint retrospectives.

Scrum offers various advantages:

  • Helps teams complete deliverables efficiently
  • Ensures effective use of money and time
  • Provides clear visibility via Scrum meetings
  • Is best for fast-moving software projects
  • Ensures that each team member's effort is visible through daily standups

However, Scrum has several drawbacks:

  • It may lead to scope creep due to the lack of a definite end date.
  • Daily meetings may be frustrating and time-consuming.
  • Scrum is only successful when used by seasoned team members.
  • There is a high chance of failure if individuals aren't cooperative or committed.

Kanban

Kanban is a scheduling framework for implementing Agile software development. Teams represent work items as cards on a Kanban board and columns as work stages. That way, team members can see the state of every task at any time. 

Kanban’s advantages include:

  • Limits work-in-progress
  • Visualizes work
  • Maximizes flow and efficiency
  • Increased flexibility due to a lack of defined roles

The drawbacks of Kanban Agile include the following:

  • Large Kanban boards can be confusing for big projects and teams.
  • Kanban boards usually lack strict deadlines, which can lead to delayed milestones.
  • The process isn't effective if team members don't update the board.
  • There is a lack of explicit iteration — when a card or task reaches the end of the board, the task is complete, and there is no way to classify it as an attempt that requires refinement.

Scrumban

As its name implies, Scrumban is a combination of Scrum and Kanban. It was created to merge the predictability and structure of Scrum with Kanban's flexibility. 

Teams implement Scrumban by:

  1. Creating a Scrumban board: Like a Kanban board, a Scrumban board uses columns to represent work stages and cards to represent stages. 
  2. Setting work-in-progress limits: Next, the team limits how much work they can take at any point. In Scrumban, the limit is the number of all cards on the board at any time.
  3. Ordering the team's priorities on the board: After setting the work-in-progress limits, the team prioritizes the projects on the board. They will also decide who is responsible for which tasks.
  4. Estimating how long each task will take: Unlike Kanban, Scrumban visualizes work as continuous, so a task doesn't end when it reaches the end of the board. As such, Scrum teams must estimate how long each task will take.
  5. Setting daily meetings: Like Scrum teams, Scrumban teams must establish daily meetings to discuss plans and challenges.

Scrumban offers several advantages:

  • Enforces transparency
  • Spots and reduces bottlenecks
  • Increases visibility for stakeholders
  • Creates a continuous workflow

However, Scrumban also has its disadvantages:

  • May create confusion about responsibilities and roles
  • May cause implementation challenges, especially if team members aren't familiar with Scrum or Kanban

Lean

Lean applies Toyota's Lean manufacturing principles to project management. Its goal is to boost customer value by eliminating waste and preventing entropy from every project development phase. 

Lean identifies three types of waste:

  • Muda consists of activities that consume resources without providing additional value.
  • Muri is the overuse of employees or equipment.
  • Mura is operational "unevenness" that decreases productivity and efficiency in the long run.

Adopting Lean gives companies the following advantages:

  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Shorter lead times
  • Lower overall costs
  • Lower storage and inventory costs
  • Higher efficiency and productivity

Companies should also be aware of Lean's disadvantages:

  • Inventory issues — for example, due to the focus on waste elimination, you may lack spare products ready to go
  • Potential resistance among employees to Lean adoption
  • Over-structuring, which can create more waste

Agile Development Workflow

Unlike traditional project management frameworks that lead to one final product, Agile development workflows are iterative, consisting of two-to-four-week-long phases. These phases are repeated until the team reaches an optimal goal—namely, to deliver high-quality software that works.

Here's what happens in each Agile iteration:

  1. Plan requirements: The team creates a plan for how they will create the product and finish tasks before the end of the iteration. 
  2. Develop product: The team starts working on the product.
  3. Test product: The team tests the product for bugs and usability issues.
  4. Deliver iteration: The team delivers the iteration to the end-user(s) and stakeholder(s).
  5. Incorporate user feedback: The team receives and incorporates feedback into the next iteration.

Hire Agile Development Experts With Revelo

If you're interested in using Agile, you must hire developers who are familiar with the Agile approach to software development. Otherwise, they won't be able to implement Agile project management methodologies. They may also have a difficult time collaborating with Agile developers on a software development project.

Revelo can help you hire dedicated Agile developers for your development projects. As an international tech talent marketplace, we match businesses with Latin American developers in U.S. time zones who have been rigorously vetted for soft skills, technical skills, and English proficiency. We can also assist with onboarding, including payroll, taxes, benefits administration, local compliance, employee retention, and engagement.

Interested in learning more? Contact Revelo to start hiring Agile developers.

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