What is Agile Software Development?

Agility is the ability to respond to change, create alternative solutions, and survive in uncertain, ever-changing, and turbulent environments.

Agility is a valuable tool in the world of software development – which is why agile software development was coined as a term describing a process whereby a developer lives by a set of values that allow them to figure out the right things to do in each context. But what exactly is agile software development? How does it work? What frameworks make up agile software development? 

What is Agile Software Development & SCRUM vs KANBAN 

Agile software development is a process, or specifically, a set of practices intended to improve software development procedures. While we often mistake it as a set of frameworks – or even just one framework such as SCRUM or KANBAN – it is much more than that. Agile software development includes a set of frameworks that are based on the principles of agile development. The collection of practices and principles that make up agile software development is designed to guide you in approaching development to figure out the best way to move forward in any scenario. 

To think of this idea in another way – agile is a mindset informed by the original principles and values of the Agile Manifesto. This mindset fuels an iterative and iterative approach. For example, if you face uncertainty, you may try something, gather feedback, and adjust accordingly – that is the agile mindset. In essence, agile software development is a software development methodology centred around the idea of repetition and iterative development, where solutions often evolve through collaboration between self-organized cross-functional teams. This iterative development process requires a disciplined project management philosophy that fosters frequent inspection and adaption geared to delivering high-quality software that can change with the circumstances of the moment. 

There is a wide array of advantages to an iterative agile software development process:

  • Reduces non-productive work by focusing on feedback to improve each iteration
  • Creates more high-value products for your end-users
  • Ensures your development goals and milestones align with your user's needs to maximize spending and time

Two of the more common frameworks discussed in the realm of agile software development are SCRUM and KANBAN. Let's look at those together now.

SCRUM & KANBAN. What is SCRUM vs KANBAN? 

SCRUM, in simple terms, is a framework or a subset of agile software development. A framework for your understanding is a set of practices and procedures that are followed for the process to be consistent with the desired or set framework. SCRUM processes are used to manage complex software development projects and utilize iterative and incremental methods to develop the final product. SCRUM operates as a framework to help teams work together in an organized fashion. 

A team utilizing a SCRUM process will learn through experience, self-organizing while solving development problems, and reflecting upon their wins and losses to ensure continuous improvement. The process recognizes that your team does not know everything at the start of a project and will learn and naturally adapt to changing conditions and user requirements through re-prioritization.

The process in a SCRUM is incremental as teams commit to shipping the product through set time intervals, known as sprints. The goal is then to create feedback and learning loops to gather and prioritize user feedback quickly. The teams then meet for regular 'scrums' or ceremonies to organize the backlog (prioritize development steps) and plan sprints. 

The actual sprint that follows is where the team will work together to finish a specified development project. This iterative process is led by the product owner, who creates an estimated wish list of what is to be done. The remaining two roles are the scrum master who maintains team focus and the scrum team who runs the sprints to ensure product and sprint completion.  

SCRUM is a desirable process used in the agile software development process. It is simple to understand and allows you to organize complex tasks into manageable user sprints, which keep you and your organization on the path to product completion. A second methodology for managing difficult work is known as KANBAN. When considering KANBAN vs SCRUM, it's easy to see that the two methodologies differ on the surface. Still, their principles are essentially the same as they are both designed to help develop better project flow and products. 

KANBAN is a visual lean method for managing and improving your work system. It is centred on the idea of maximizing work efficiency and visualizing your work as it is in production. Simply put, the process is completed in real-time by leveraging visual KANBAN boards, which allow all team members to know and understand the state of every piece of work in a project in real-time. In comparison to SCRUM, KANBAN methodologies are more fluid and continuous, unlike the sprint methodologies. Because KANBAN is a more flexible process, it is ideal for a project with multiple incoming requests and an ever-changing scope because it lets you roll with the punches. 

How does KANBAN relate to the agile software development process, you might ask? It focuses on a continuous pattern of work whereby your team remains agile and adaptable to changing priorities. The visual process represents work items on cards organized on a board which means the flow from one stage of a project to the next. The process in KANBAN vs SCRUM is flexible in scheduling, allowing employees to focus on the quality of work being produced rather than fixed deadlines. Regardless of which is suitable for you, both SCRUM & KANBAN frameworks can contribute to an agile software development philosophy and help to improve product quality and efficiency. 

7 Stages of Agile Development

To understand the agile development process, you can think of it simply as the traditional waterfall process adapted with an iterative development step. The waterfall process adapted for agile development consists of 7 stages: 

  1. Requirements
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Test
  5. Deploy
  6. Review
  7. Launch

Each step is repeated with changes made from the continuous feedback loop. 

These steps are simple to understand and represent the entire lifecycle of software development adapted to be agile by allowing for feedback as it is garnered from users to ensure the product meets user needs and remains cost-effective. 

Whether your team needs to implement new changes to your software development, have a limited time to plan, or your project has a wide array of unknowns, agile software development may be right for you. Utilizing frameworks like KANBAN or SCRUM will allow your team to remain agile and adapt to projects that vary. Doing so will allow you to adjust requirements and priorities along the way to ensure you take advantage of development opportunities and deliver a better product to all project stakeholders. 


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