Why Agile Development Is Not for Everyone

By: Dan

There are several approaches to software development used today. The traditional Waterfall structure follows a rigid approach – a stark contrast to the modern movement of Agile Development. Let’s explore both systems:

• The Waterfall method of software development follows a set of phases. Requirements for the entire project are gathered in phase one, while the subsequent stages include design, development, and testing. Time and time again, this process has yielded unsatisfactory end results for clients. While the outcome is theoretically predictable, the lack of client involvement throughout the project is what ultimately causes the software product to fall short of expectations. A client’s vision, expressed only in the beginning stage, gets lost in development.

Agile development has gained mainstream traction due to its people-focused approach and promise for a speedy finish. Instead of following the standard phases, a team of Agile developers will work on different features of the software in stages called sprints. The biggest difference between these two methodologies is the requirements gathering. In Agile development, requirements and feature changes are discussed right at the start of the sprint. At the end of each sprint, the team works closely with the client to ensure that expectations have been met and to gather the next set of requirements. This transparency and open communication allows the developers to produce a system that matches the client’s expectations at the end. With an experienced Agile team, this approach will produce fast results.

While Agile development in its purest form has distinct advantages, it may not be right for every company. This method requires the client to have flexibility regarding scope, timing, and budget of their project. When investing in any software development project, it is difficult to predict these aspects – but Agile lacks a form of documentation with a guaranteed plan and price.

At alligatortek, we adopted a modified Agile approach that offers our clients the confidence of receiving the solution they need under a fixed time, budget, and scope. The process begins with a high-level requirements gathering phase (similar to the Waterfall method) where our team gathers business information on the client and their pain points in order to begin development. However, not all details are laid out in this stage. Once we have approval that we understand the general idea and expectations, we document an outlined plan and give our clients a fixed cost bid calculated using details gathered in the initial phases. The actual process of development is split up into sprints. This way, there are checkpoints throughout the project for the client to review the software and request minor adjustments. In-depth requirements for the next sprint are also discussed. At the end, the client has another opportunity to review the project in its entirety and make adjustments.

For each of our projects, each aspect is outlined and agreed upon prior to coding, and the client is able to test the features and provide input at regular points in time. Clients are assured that the most critical features of their software will be done when they need it and for the price they were expecting. This level of comfort and certainty presented through a blended approach is exactly why our process works for the clients we serve.

Unless a team is fully experienced in Agile, it would be a risk for a company to commit to following that approach right away. A good way for businesses to get accustomed to this new form of software development is by using a blended methodology that takes aspects of the more traditional developments and combines it with the benefits of Agile. At the same time, a firm may choose to stick with a blended approach – it allows clients to have an agreed-upon budget and the flexibility to make adjustments to the software throughout the project.

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