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Why iterative software development produces the best user experience

Ben Obear
May 15, 2015

Agile refers to a specific methodology used when developing a business application solution. This type of development actually includes methodologies designed to enhance organization through multiple self-reliant teams. Adaptive planning, time-boxing, and response flexibility are promoted when using this method to create software. It is based on the concept that interactions will occur during the development cycle and accommodates for these road bumps. Agile software development may be created through one or many sub-methodologies, with each of them promoting the same basic items collaboration, teamwork, and adaptability.

Many organizations have adopted Agile as a preferred methodology, and with good reason. Traditional waterfall (sequential) systems development methodologies were taking too long, being logical extensions of slower moving Industrial Age business and assembly cycles. Today, by the time a new system is launched, the underlying need had long since changed before anything workable was delivered. The response was Agile, a methodology permitting many iterative deliverables, based on a supposedly faster cycle time closely aligned to an Information Age economy. We overreacted, throwing out everything that came before.

The Agile Manifesto, introduced in 2001, almost immediately found broad acceptance from the developer community as it relieved them of having to work with end-users on an extensively documenting specific sets of desired functions prior to coding. It de-emphasized functional specifications and applications design over speed, assuming end-users have little knowledge of exactly what they wanted, except in very wide ranges of functionality. Therefore, design was a non-issue. It made being a developer heroic just by developing.

Reasons why iterative software development produces the best user experience:

Development process

Small timeframes allow a set of tasks to be completed in as little as one week or as long as four weeks. Planning, analysis, design, documentation, programming, and testing are all included per timebox. This constant circling allows teams to adapt quickly to changing requirements and better meet the demands of each client. The product is displayed in its entirety at the completion of each cycle of suggestions or the addition of new requirements. Agile practices allow a full version to be available for deployment at any time.

Customer oriented

Agile methods keep the customer involved throughout the duration of the project, whereas traditional approaches only take the requirements from the customer to complete the designs used for the final product. Once this information is gained, the client really has not further role until the finished result is demonstrated.The customer, commonly involved in iterations planning, is available to discuss and explain questions related to requirements. If there were some misconceptions or controversies, there's a chance for developers to find out what the customer meant by "it should perform... you know... the thing like... well, it should be just great!" It was a joke, but you see my point.

Thus, the required functionality is implemented into the product by small parts, giving both developers and customers clarify clear moments, and giving customers the possibility to introduce changes painlessly for the team involved in their software product development. These are essential parts of software development, and success of a product largely depends on requirements. Requirements-related issues are often named among highest risks faced by a software development company.

Ease of installation

For organizations planning to offer hosted software, agile makes the most sense for a number of reasons. Usually, customers do not have to install anything, it's easy to implement any updates that come along with new iterations. With more enterprise IT departments and decision-makers hoping to implement hosted software and other forms of cloud computing, faster product development that still factors accountability and effectiveness into the process is crucial.

When implementing agile development or any new process, change management is an important aspect of the move. If, in the past, a company struggled to adapt when altering a system, making adjustments to this process is crucial to the success of the agile development initiative. However, the successful deployment of agile practices has helped organizations provide customers with stronger, easier-to-use products.

Scrum Offshore Advances the Turnaround Time of Outsourced Projects

The scrum offshore approach lets teams be increasingly cross-functional, and it promotes self-organization. Corporate hierarchies and other debilitating factors are removed, making it easy for each team to make the best decisions regarding single development iterations. Open communication between smaller teams makes it easier to continue advancing the functionality of a revolving software product. It is different from the waterfall methodology because it does not contain four unique phases: business requirements, system design, development, and implementation. Scrum offshore practices are a single example of agile practices applied to provide significant advantages when the needs of a business change frequently or are not completely known. With scrum, all requirements reside in a backlog used to determine the tasks for each upcoming sprint or timebox. It is an iterative methodology where tasks must be completed in their specified timeframe. Those development tasks not completed in the set time are input back into the backlog to be tackled again. It still consists of a revolving cycle just as any agile approach and can meet the continually changing desires of a client.

Scrum practices are typically grouped into the category of rapid application development (RAD) due to their iterative nature. RAD has one main objective -- to create a high-quality solution quickly without a huge investment cost. Risks are often reduced due to the project being broken down into smaller more manageable tasks. The application is not a prototype, but instead production software the client can use at the end of any iteration. All documentation needed for future alterations is provided throughout the development of a solution. Agile software development offers a business the benefits of increased turnaround time, increased customizability, and on-demand deployment.

Pocket friendly

The low cost of projects using agile development is an equally attractive element of it. With the waterfall method, large upfront investments are often required, which can result in a massive financial loss if the project is not completed in line with self-imposed deadlines and other restrictions. Despite the financial savings and improved customer satisfaction that many organizations have reported after implementing agile, it is key to ensure that a company can successfully make the change before a significant investment is made.

IT experts that endorse agile development point to the adoption of industry-leading ecommerce companies and software developers as the primary motivation for their decision. Agile has allowed these organizations to expedite the roll out of software updates and factor substantial consumer feedback into the development of these solutions. Summary

Agile development is the new kid on the block among software methodologies. It is iterative as well as incremental and very popular in the current times because of its shorter time to market and flexibility. The creation of the Agile Manifesto is now historic. Collaboration and response to change are some of the popular aspects of agile development.
This method is best suited for User Interfaces and emerging technologies, where the overall requirements cannot be fully defined up front, but rather will emerge as the development proceeds. Agile software development produces the best user experience with a usable product throughout a project. Scrum offshore services enhance the value of outsourcing by providing faster results at an affordable price.

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Ben Obear
San Francisco