For businesses, remaining competitive in the market is one of the most important objectives right now. The market is only becoming more saturated and customers have more options than ever. Being able to adapt to market needs and changes is crucial. More importantly, businesses need to be able to adapt quickly.

Businesses who are offering software solutions now rely on agile software development as a way to remain flexible and competitive. By adopting agile as a methodology, businesses can focus more on what their customers or users need. What is agile software development exactly? How can it benefit your business? We are going to answer these questions in this article.

What Is Agile Software?

Agile software development is a methodology or an approach for developing software or solutions in a modular, agile way. Instead of developing an entire software in one go, agile turns software development into smaller cycles. Rather than aiming for one final product, agile creates pipelines where features and functionalities are added continuously.

Agile software allows businesses to focus on specific market needs with every cycle. The cycle itself is very simple. It starts with defining a clear plan based on the development requirements and what the market – or the users – needs. The process defines what the cycle will be focusing on, such as the features that will be added or the kind of software that will be developed.

The next phase is design. For the features to be delivered in a useful way to the users, the design of the software – from both the UX and UI sides – need to be suitable for the users. Experience is a big emphasis these days, and users are more sensitive to how a software or an app delivers its user experience.

The development phase is when the actual coding happens. Based on the requirements and development plan, new features are added in quick cycles. Depending on the development approach being used, teams of developers can do short sprints, focusing on one incremental update at a time while maintaining alignment with the long-term objective.

Testing, release, and feedback are the next three phases. Each phase focuses on a particular part of the agile development process. Feedback from users is then taken into account when doing planning for the next cycle of the agile software development. Since this is a cycle, the process becomes continuous.

Delivering Working Solutions

The cloud infrastructure that we have today, and the way apps are now designed to be cloud-native, complements the way agile software development works. With continuous deployment becoming the norm, delivering incremental updates to the users is also easier. There is no need to bring the entire app or solution down just to update its features.

The real challenge is making sure that the solution follows strict standards and that features always work as intended by the time they reach users. This is where testing becomes a crucial part. Agile testing, however, allows for development cycles to remain quick and effective even when extensive testing is done along the way.

The key is integrating testing as part of the development cycle. Agile testing no longer waits until the end of the development cycle. It can be integrated seamlessly, adding elements such as code standards, tags and annotations, and multiple types of testing into the mix. Developers can also be actively involved in the testing process and maintaining those standards.

You can use Global App Testing to test using experienced testers. Global App Testing is experienced in handling different types of testing, including agile testing. This further simplifies testing, since the internal development team can focus entirely on planning and development without placing testing as less of a priority. There will never be a failed delivery of features and solutions, which means there will never be a time when users are not happy.

Agile in Multiple Markets

There is no doubt that agile software development can be very beneficial to your business. Agile software development makes delivering even the most complex solutions manageable. At the same time, you have the option to keep the internal development team lean and effective, resulting in lower development cost altogether.

Of course, agile needs to be adapted correctly depending on the market you are trying to penetrate and the kind of solution you want to deliver to the users. Agile works universally, but some adjustments may be required for the methodology to be effective for your organization. For example, you can use different agile tools to manage the development cycles.

This put most of the challenges in the planning stage. You have to go the extra mile to really understand what users need and want before starting the planning phase. Based on user input, features are planned accordingly. In markets where there is a lot of competition, for instance, you can stay ahead by delivering better user experience, even when the set of features is the same.

Other challenges to face include designing for specific user segments and making sure that the planned UX is received well. It may not be possible to get the UX right from the beginning, but agile doesn’t require you to get everything right on the first try. After the first few cycles, you will have enough data and user feedback to refine the process even further.

Continuous Improvement as a Process

That brings us to the biggest advantage that agile software offers: continuous improvement as a process. Not only will you be able to refine and improve the solution your business delivers to the market, but the agile methodology also allows you to improve processes and workflows with every cycle you run. You will have plenty of data to do so as well.

Development can be more efficient, costs can be brought down, and sprints can be even faster. There lies the biggest competitive advantage of them all – a way to adapt to market changes and keep users happy at all times. Combined with agile testing, you can deliver features that users actually love, increase in-app or in-solution user engagement, and lead the market further.

Photo credits: eOffice

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