What Is the Agile Software Development Life Cycle?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The agile development cycle is a methodology for completing projects that many software development teams use. The system prioritizes adaptability and efficiency. If you're a project manager or software developer, you may want to learn more about how to incorporate the agile development cycle into your projects. In this article, we answer the question, “What is the agile software development life cycle?”, discuss its stages, explore its benefits, and review tips for using it, including some examples.

What is the agile software development life cycle?

If you're interested in project management, you may be wondering, "What is the agile software development life cycle?" The agile development cycle is a project management methodology that focuses on adaptability. In contrast to typical development cycles, the agile cycle breaks projects into smaller parts and promotes self-organizing teams. Due to its flexibility, software and technology businesses usually build products using the agile development cycle.

Related: Understanding Project Management Methodology (With Examples)

Stages of the agile development life cycle

The agile development cycle comprises six stages, during which the project manager, team members, customers, and stakeholders collaborate to successfully finish the project. Here are the six stages with details of what they entail:

Conception

The agile development cycle begins with the project's idea. The project manager and client may discuss the project's scope at this stage, which covers its budget, schedule, and goals. If the team is working on numerous projects concurrently, they may also discuss how to prioritize different projects. The project manager considers all important concepts and customer requirements while preparing the project.

Genesis

The project manager establishes teams and informs members of their roles during the genesis stage. In this phase, management allocates the budgeted funds to the project. Additionally, the project manager provides crucial resources to their teams, such as development areas or software tools. Flowcharts, diagrams, and other visual aids are useful at this stage of the cycle because they allow managers and team members to envision the entire project.

Iteration

During the iteration stage, the team works on the project's goals. This stage may consist of several cycles of adjustment and feedback. The team may also split their work into sprints, or short-term tasks, depending on their cycle's unique style. This is common among software development teams that employ an agile methodology.

Deployment

After developing a prototype and initiating quality assurance, a team enters the deployment stage. When the team develops software utilizing agile methods, the deployment process may involve installation and configuring commands. During the deployment stage, the team may also implement methods to update and track data relating to the program.

Production

When a team reaches the production phase, it has already accomplished the project's goals and is now responsible for delivering the product. For example, if the team is responsible for developing software, it may provide updates and solutions to different issues. Additionally, team members may offer education on the correct usage of the program.

Retirement

When a piece of software is no longer useful, it enters the retirement phase. During this stage, the team terminates assistance on the project and notifies any stakeholders. Many teams choose to retire the software while also implementing and installing its successor.

Benefits of using the agile development life cycle

Here are some benefits of using the agile development cycle:

  • Reduces project risk: By segmenting the project, a single error may not have the same impact on the whole operation as it might have had in previous development cycles. By using agile, a team may return to mistakes and correct them while still working toward the project's goals.

  • Allows for efficient modifications: Customers frequently submit revision requests over the course of a software development project. Agile development cycles enable these changes to occur quickly, without jeopardizing deadlines or budgets.

  • Increases team productivity: The agile development cycle improves productivity by allowing staff to focus on a single task at a time, which can help to avoid burnout.

  • Encourages communication: The agile development cycle includes planning for client communication and appointing a dedicated stakeholder representative. The representative engages with both the development team and the client, ensuring efficient communication between all parties.

  • Promotes continuous feedback: Daily meetings are one aspect of the agile development cycle. During these meetings, teams and their members receive feedback from their supervisors and colleagues. They also review their previous work and create goals for improving future work.

  • Prioritizes project quality: Quality assurance is a priority in the agile development cycle, which places emphasis on meeting client expectations and responding quickly to feedback.

Related: What Is an Agile Project Manager? (With Crucial Skills)

Tips for using the agile development life cycle

Here are some tips you can use when implementing the agile development cycle in your project:

  • Train your staff on agile processes. If you choose to change from a traditional development cycle to an agile one, it may take time for your teams to use it effectively. Investing in proper training can optimize your team's use of the cycle.

  • Determine if agile is best for you. Before switching to agile, assess your team and situation to determine if agile is what's best for you. Agile is usually very helpful for software development and technology companies, but if the scope of your project is different, a traditional project management system may be more appropriate.

  • Set a productive pace for teams. The agile development cycle works best when teams are working at a fast pace. Be sure to integrate frequent objectives, so your teams can work at a productive pace.

  • Use your time at meetings efficiently. During agile system meetings, teams can assess their performance and create goals for improvement. To use this time effectively, create specific goals for each meeting and stay focused on them.

  • Assess and manage risk. Risk assessment is important to any project, and creating contingency plans for various scenarios allows you and your team to feel confident that they can manage any potential obstacles.

Common agile methodologies

Here are some of the most common agile methodologies:

Kanban

Kanban is a visual content-management software, which companies use to present their work to customers on a consistent basis. This organizational style enables team members and customers to remain up to date on all areas of the development process. This enables them to identify areas for improvement and to take proactive measures to ensure the team fulfills overall delivery schedules and client requirements. While Kanban can increase efficiency, it doesn't employ unique timeframes for each stage of the project. This means that additional time management may be necessary to ensure a project's success.

Related: Scrum Board vs. Kanban Board: What Are the Pros and Cons?

Scrum

Scrum is a straightforward project management methodology that emphasizes ownership of project items and the importance of meeting deadlines at each stage of the process. Individual teams claim projects from a previously determined list of essential tasks, which a company ranks and prioritizes. As part of this methodology, the team meets daily and monthly with a "Scrum master" who oversees the whole project. Scrum masters typically arrange tasks or log entries using a "sprint" timetable, which is a very brief amount of time during which the team expects to finish their project.

Feature-driven development

A two-week project timetable is typical for feature-driven development. After dividing each aspect of the development process into distinct features, teams work on each feature independently. This approach requires a greater degree of planning than some other agile techniques. This approach prioritizes product features and aims to guarantee the development of robust software to increase customer satisfaction.

Crystal

Crystal refers to a collection of techniques that can apply to teams of 8 to 1,000 individuals. The organization's overall team size defines each technique. By prioritizing communication, Crystal can increase efficiency and quality. Using this methodology fosters collaboration and communication between team members, which can result in an enhanced workflow.

Behaviour-driven development

Behaviour-driven development (BDD) is an agile technique that focuses on the involvement of non-technical employees. This enables the continuous evaluation of software from a non-technical standpoint, which can improve end-user functionality. By engaging non-technical staff in the software development process, BDD can promote better cooperation and communication among a diverse, multidisciplinary team.

Lean development

Simplicity and elegance characterize the lean development agile technique, which was first developed in the field of manufacturing. Its simplicity promotes efficiency and rapid project completion. Unlike other systems that may use multi-part jobs, this method breaks down tasks into small components, which members of a specialized team then complete. This procedure relies upon a sound developmental framework prior to conception and execution.

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