What is Agile Software Development? (A Complete Guide)

Over the last decade, agile software development has drastically progressed from being just a trend to a significant growing part of the industry and why would it not? The agile method is developed out of the background of the leading software developers with real-life projects. Due to that, the challenges and limitations coming with the traditional software development system have completely been disowned.

According to the report by PMI, 70% of software development companies are using Agile methodology in their product development. This strategy has the capacity to build and adapt to transition, in an unpredictable and chaotic business climate to thrive, agile methodologies rely on fast and periodic partial solution deliverables that can be tested and used to assess the next steps by project teams.

Due to that, Agile is one of the popular software development methodologies in most of the leading software development companies. So if you’re also looking forward to using agile methodology for your quality software development projects, keep on reading this article guide. It explains everything from scratch.

Brief History

As we all know, the term agile methodology came into existence in 2001, but people and teams have already started to work together in an agile fashion in the mid-nineties. Because when in the early 90s desktop code computing started to flourish in the software industry, software development had to face a huge crisis at that time.

What was the crisis?

The period between validated market demand and initial implementation in software production was calculated by industry experts to be around three years. Now, the span of three years – you can imagine how huge it is – to change everything from requirements to systems. Because of this, several projects ended up being canceled, and several of those finished did not fulfill any of the company’s real demands, even if the project’s original targets were achieved.

Now what?

This has to be stopped at some point. You can’t lose years and money with no impact. Therefore, too many engineers, practitioners, and professionals thought that the traditional waterfall methodology or also known as the waterfall model is heavy and not working. Then, they started combining old ideas with fresh ideas while working in teams. When the combination finally succeeded, they created a methodology and framework to spread the idea around the world. That’s how agile software development was born – which is a completely different history of the agile alliance.

What is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development refers to a community of iterative application-oriented software development methodologies where requirements and approaches grow by cooperation with self-organizing cross-functional IT teams.

In simple words, the definition of the agile approach suggests that it is an iterative and incremental mechanism to plan, produce, and evaluate high-quality applications at the lowest expense and in the shortest period of opportunity.

That means, build software incrementally instead of all at once, unlike waterfall methodology.

How does it work?

The agile software development methodology suggests that projects’ expectations to be handled differently and that the existing software development methods have to be modified to suit the specifications of projects better. Therefore, the agile initiatives are divided into time boxes with an upgrade to have specific characteristics.

The entire software development process revolves around iterative development. However, before starting with the development, software requirement specification is made to know the purpose of the software. So the working software development is delivered after each iteration. Each iteration is incremental in terms of new features and the final iteration will be holding all the features required by customers. Also, every iteration consists of planning, requirement business analysis, designs, coding, unit tests, software testing, acceptance testing, and deployment.

Remember that continuous integration is key for the continuous quality of the agile software development life cycle (SDLC). However, there’s an important agile manifesto for software declared by some of the authors like Ward Cunningham, Brian Marick, Arie van, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Ronkainen J, Martin Fowler, Ron Jeffries, James Grenning, and Alistair Cockburn which is as follow:

  • Individual and iterations over agile processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation/store document
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation and contributor(s)
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Keep these values and principles in mind as part of the agile manifesto when developing the agile software as whichever Agile methodology the development team members adopt while designing the agile program, the outcome and database can not be entirely accomplished without the commitment of those involved.

Now, the question is how will you implement agile in the development process? So, to answer that, there are various types or you can also call it frameworks that support the agile methodology for the software development team. What are those? Let’s understand in detail.

Different Types of Agile Methodology

Agile Methodology

  1. Scrum Methodology

    Without a doubt, scrum is one of the popular and used frameworks of agile methodology. Scrum process refers to a lightweight agile project management framework that can be used to perform all types of iterative and progressive tasks by the product owner and teams and burndown charts show the velocity of total efforts against the amount of work for each iteration. That implies that scrum generally focuses on the management piece of projects.

    Scrum Practices:

    • The product owner (role) to measure the system functionality prioritizes functions by creating a product backlog on different product lines- that includes features, bug fixes, non-functional requirements, and everything else that needs to be accomplished to create effectiveness for the working software system.
    • Once the product backlog is established, the agile development team leaders and scrum master would distribute a software system in increments – that is – predict and sign up over successive scrum sprints. Typically it lasts up to a month to generate potentially shippable software increments.
    • Then, the scrum team would develop the software sprint.
    • When a sprint backlog is delivered, the product backlog is reviewed by the product owner and reprioritized with each repetition of the development cycle (Sprint retrospective), if necessary.

    Important: The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum Team are the main role leaders of the product backlog and agile development by Scrum.

    Pros and cons:

    • Faster distribution abilities of the product
    • High-quality software work products
    • Better productivity and outcomes according to the agile manifesto
    • A low-cost solution for the product owner
    • Great employee morale and experiences
    • The capability of completing complicated tasks and forces
    • It requires experienced and committed project team members than others
    • Adopting the Scrum system of large teams and in a turbulent environment faces difficulty
    • Often the regular sessions of daily scrum process and product owner frustrate team leaders and the entire picture
  2. Kanban

    The Japanese origin Kanban is connected with the idea of the time which is “just-in-time.” Kanban board is a tool that refers to the workflow management method and is built to help envision the amount of work together, optimize productivity, and have an agile alliance.

    Kanban Practices:

    • Begin with experiment and ceremonies – what you do now and visualize the workflow boards.
    • Reduce the work in progress (WIP) to balance the numbers of workflows.
    • Manage workflow events and awareness from product backlogs information (info).
    • Make sure the agile process tools, policies, and descriptions are followed.
    • Implement customer feedback and suggestions once the software is delivered.
    • Enhance details collaboratively for the agile alliance.

    The best manner to see this framework is in three aspects as shown below.


    In progress


    Pros and Cons:

    • Great flexibility and sense
    • Reduction of wasted time and work
    • Better productivity and understanding
    • High credibility and references
    • Focus on continuous software delivery and best practices
    • Solutions evolve through collaboration and the agile manifesto
    • Less successful in cases of shared resources
    • Product mix or demand changes cause the problem in team agile
    • Problem with production flow and uncertainty
  3. Lean Software Development

    One of the iterative agile techniques is lean software development that generally centers the team members on providing value for user stories by efficient business value source mapping (Roadmap). This product management method offers a conceptual structure that applies standards, beliefs that common e-commerce business best practices and can be extended to an Agile approach to development.

    Lean Practices:

    • Eliminate waste by allowing users to select only the most useful features of a program and prioritize those features
    • Work to deliver fast those features in small batches
    • Make the pull system services by customer request
    • Enhance continuously to be effective
    • Empower the agile teams
    • Optimize the whole agile alliance

    Pros and Cons:

    • Eliminates the superfluous activity
    • Takes less time to deliver working functionalities, even in the agile manifesto
    • Easily scalable
    • Better predictability
    • High adaptability by development teams
    • Solutions evolve through collaboration
    • Dependent on the team’s ability
    • Teams find difficulties to concentrate as tasks are divided into various elements and often indulges in distractions
    • Need effective documentation
  4. Extreme Programming (XP)

    One of the most common Agile methodologies is named Extreme Programming (XP), described by Kent Beck. It requires a large degree of involvement in software development work between two parties are clients and software developers. XP method seeks to increase the consistency and usability of the applications in the context of increasing customer needs whether you build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), MAP (Minimum Awesome Product), or a full-fledged application for your business stakeholders.

    XP Practices:

    • Game planing – plans meetings that occur once per iteration
    • Small releases – release new versions in short agile development cycles
    • Simple UI design – designers and architectures remove extra complexity
    • Testings and consulting – developers and vendors write a unit test for customer acceptance
    • Refactoring – restructure the system and make a transformation of software according to guidelines without changing behavior
    • Pair programming – write code base on the one machine with two programmers, one keyboard, and one mouse left
    • Collective ownership – teammates and person takes responsibility
    • Continuous integration – integrate one set of change at a time for better performance
    • Coding standards – more emphasis on the set rules
    • Metaphor – user story points – authors tell the user how the system works in the simplest way

    Pros and Cons:

    • Greater relationship with the customer
    • Fast result delivery by the team members
    • Constant testing makes the product more agile ones
    • The team works at their own pace and solutions
    • Changes can be made quickly
    • Code review is simple and clear
    • Collaboration between self organizing cross functional teams, and user story
    • Pair programming and the agile manifesto
    • More time investment in the group event tester and discussion
    • A high cost is a challenge form
    • Need extreme self-discipline teams and all speed upon each other
    • Customer participation is a must
  5. Crystal

    Crystal technique is an agile approach to software development that relies mainly on people, communication, interactions, transparency, knowledge, skills, talent while operating on an agile project over systems and instruments – which is the most significant agile manifesto.

    However, there are different types of crystal methodologies for different variety of projects – categorized by colors and team size which are as follow:

    • Crystal Clear – For the team consisting of 8 or fewer people
    • Crystal Yellow – For the team consisting of 10 to 20 people
    • Crystal Orange – For the team consisting of 20 to 50 people
    • Crystal Red – For the team consisting of 50 to 100 people

    The goals of developing software with these families are to point out that projects may require a specific set of policies, agile practices, agile processes, and tools to meet the unique characteristics of projects.

    Crystal Practices:

    • Frequent delivery
    • Reflection to adjust and improvement
    • Communication
    • Security and safe concepts
    • Constant focus on construction
    • Expert team access
    • Technical environment
    • Automated tests/ test automation

    Pros and Cons:

    • Ensures constant deliveries even in the United States
    • All-time high return on investment
    • Eliminates errors and problems
    • Syntax simplicity order and the agile manifesto
    • Adapting different technologies to changing requirements
    • Different values and principles for different types of projects
    • Teams and organizations need to communicate more constantly and maintain a constant pace
  6. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

    The feature-driven development was initiated and proponents by Jeff De Luca in 1997 to help the development team be more adaptive and responsive to customer requirements and user stories. He has developed a model that uses five phases in short iterations to concentrate on developing features. The five phases include developing software models, build feature list, plan by feature, design by feature, and build by feature.

    Feature-driven development might not be mentioned or seen as often as other agile methodologies, but it is worth considering – especially if you use it to scale the agile creation into -long-term projects with broad team accountability.

    FDD Practices:

    • Domain object modeling
    • Developing software by feature
    • Individuals code ownership
    • Feature agile teams
    • Inspections of software sight and testings
    • Configuration management field
    • Regular build schedule
    • Progress report

    Pros and Cons:

    • Fewer meetings by team
    • Uses a user-centric approach
    • Works best with large scale project management
    • Easy to track and fix all errors
    • Progressive reports and feedback loops on a timely basis
    • Great delivery of all software products
    • Solutions evolve through collaboration
    • Not suitable for small team sizes project management
    • Does not work well with the old system and more defects
    • No ways and no documentation provided to the client and everyone
    • No emphasis on shared team ownership
  7. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

    The dynamic systems development method as the name suggests is dynamic in nature. This came out of the need to create an architecture for Rapid Application Development (RAD). This is an iterative and incremental system that acknowledges the continuing participation of customers. The DSDM approach has progressed to provide a conceptual method tailoring for Agile model design, implementation, delivery, and optimizing and iterative product development projects.

    DSDM, however, is a concept that consists of three phases namely, the pre-projects phase, lifecycle phase, and post-projects phase. Each phase their own values and principles to follow. Moreover, this method uses various aspects that we can’t ignore such as times boxing, MoSCoW rules (must-have, should-have, could-have, won’t-have), prototyping, and testing.

    DSDM Practices:

    • Focus on the system requirements
    • Frequent delivery
    • Collaboration roles and responsibilities
    • Emphasis on product/software quality
    • Develop more incrementally
    • Communicate more often
    • Integration and testings

    Pros and Cons:

    • High customer involvement
    • All functionalities are delivered faster
    • Projects delivery is on time as per agile manifesto
    • Organizing cross functional teams
    • Collaboration between self organizing
    • Not ideal for a small project management
    • Not easy to understand
    • More restrictive and difficult to work with the method

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Which Agile Methodology is Best to Practice?

Whether you have a large or a tiny squad, a job that could take months, may take only a week to finish if projects are managed properly or vice versa. Some of the main considerations impacting the project are the method that you use to produce the solutions according to the business needs and user experience. As we have already talked about different software development methodologies that support Agile software, two of the most widely used agile software development methods are Scrum, Kanban.

However, if for each methodology that can be used in which situations, we have to state in one line, follow agile practices below.

  • If you want a structured, agile approach and want to benefit from frequent opportunities for reviewing and learning between sprints, Scrum is one of the preferred software development processes.
  • When you want a continuous delivery strategy, Kanban is your primary path to go.
  • If you want to succeed with a short time-frame in small projects, then nothing is better than Lean Software Development.
  • If the product development team and organization need to focus on the quality assurance of its SAP code, select XP.
  • If your project managers require a flexible framework and an independent project management tool, then in this situation Crystal is the most viable approach.
  • If your enterprise is big and you tackle a complex development process, FDD will drive the change project management in the best possible way.
  • When the organization’s goal is to evolve rapidly, execute on time and on budget, and break down hierarchy and enhance collaboration, DSDM agile framework is worth exploring.

Even though each method and example has its pros and cons, most companies tend to support different agile software development methods influenced by the company culture, place values, strategic vision, and industries they function in. This way the efficiency of software project management by the project manager can be maintained.

One of the other popular software development methodologies other than agile is DevOps. If you want to know more about DevOps, we have written a dedicated guide on DevOps software development methodology.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

  • Better customer satisfaction as the delivery of software is rapid.
  • Face to face communication for the project managers.
  • Emphasis on technical excellence and good design.
  • More frequent adoption of changing circumstances.
  • Great maintenance of all organizational synergy.
  • There’s a scope of innovation on items.
  • It is not ideal for too small development projects and items.
  • Lack of documentation and less effort on necessary designing.
  • It requires training and great decision-making skills.
  • It requires skilled software engineering practices and software engineering teams.
  • Agile methods involved higher costs than other development methods.
  • The project plan can fail if it requires more planning in the development process

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Examples of 5 Best Agile Software

ActiveCollab4.5/5$6.25/month/userBuy Now
Pros: Dashboards, milestone preview, and time tracking Cons: Lack of integration with Git
Agilo For Trac3.3/5€10/month for unlimited usersBuy Now
Pros: Open source, easy to use, and subversion integration Cons: New releases are hard, rolling own plugin requires python
SprintGround5/5$29.00/monthBuy Now
Pros: Optimized for Agile, free for up to 3 users, and the due date Cons: Limited projects and disk covers more space
Targetprocess4.5/5Not providedBuy Now
Pros: Easy to set up and well-designed user interface Cons: No option to add files to tasks, Slow UI
VersionOne4.1/5$29.00/month/userBuy Now
Pros: Great visibility to project work and easy to track issues Cons: Learning curve


  1. What is agile methodology for software development?

    The agile method is a technique that encourages ongoing development and evaluating replication during the project’s agile software development lifecycle. The scaled agile framework and test activities are concurrent and address the challenges and strategies through the collective collaboration of self-organization and cross-functional teams.

  2. Is agile only used for software development?

    No. The commonly used agile principles in software development can be applied to every other part of the business people, including HR (human resources). Developing an agile atmosphere will have the biggest effect on the long term agile sustainability of business agility.

  3. What is the purpose of agile software development?

    Agile software development is a process that transforms an idea into site solutions for a business need. People use agile because, on a shorter timeline, it results in all applications that best meet your company needs. The Agile movement is based more simply on the overriding objective of building software for the foundation.

  4. Is DevOps an agile methodology?

    Agile applies to an iterative method that relies on teamwork, input range from consumers, and fast updates. DevOps is seen as the autonomy of bringing together software development teams and operations teams. The core principle in DevOps is to handle end to end method development. While DevOps can be implemented without agile methods, it can not be performed without agile values and principles.



As we have seen software plays enormous roles in changing businesses, enterprises, but how these changes are to be acceptable for evolution and how quickly they are able to operate the plan is often defined by the rate at which strategies can adapt. So it’s really necessary to use the right approach whether it is Scrum, Kanban, or XP, especially to execute an agile project effectively for the ecosystem. It can be the deciding factor of your app ideas for startups whether it will flourish in the marketplace or vanish.

Therefore, when you plan to build an agile software, make sure agile principles are implemented in the agile mobile app development process. And you may face some challenges for agile development, so in that situation, you can always contact us. Our expert team will reach you as soon as possible with great possible solutions.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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