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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Software Development

When you start working on a software development project you will quickly discover that the development methodology used will have a major part to play in the speed and quality of the code developed. Since Agile methodology is so widely used it is important that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of agile so you are able to determine whether it is the best fit for your project deliverables.

Advantages of Agile

  • Agile methodology has an adaptive team which is able to respond to the changing requirements.
  • The team does not have to invest time and effort and finally find that by the time they delivered the product, the requirement of the customer has changed.
  • Face to face communication and continuous inputs from customer representative leaves no space for guesswork.
  • The documentation is crisp and to the point to save time.
  • The end result is the high quality software in least possible time duration and satisfied customer.

In a nutshell this means that you can get development started fast, but with the caveat that the project scope statement is "flexible" and not fully defined. Hence this can be one of the major causes of scope creep if not managed properly.

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

  • In case of some software deliverables, especially the large ones, it is difficult to assess the effort required at the beginning of the software development life cycle.
  • There is lack of emphasis on necessary designing and documentation.
  • The project can easily get taken off track if the customer representative is not clear what final outcome that they want.
  • Only senior programmers are capable of taking the kind of decisions required during the development process. Hence it has no place for newbie programmers, unless combined with experienced resources.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Software Development - Tip

Looking at the lists you're probably wondering, "how on earth do I decide whether Agile should be used on my project or not?".

Well firstly most web 2.0, ecommerce, internet and new media projects are developed using Agile. I would in fact go so far as to say that if you are managing such a project and are not using a derivative of agile, then you are heading for project failure anyway. This is for the simple reason that such projects have highly fluid business requirements documentation and the project management stakeholders will as a result, demand changes to be made to them, some of which you will be forced to implement.

If you are not using a methodology which is flexible enough to accommodate this then you will quickly discover that the project is undeliverable, and your project management career has come to a shuddering halt.

If you are managing a large project which involves numerous offshore teams and project management requirements which are clearly understood and won't change, then one of the other software development methodologies would be better able to deliver the required process of software development.

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Please check out our new Project Management Methodologies section. It has loads of great info on concepts such as the PMMM and Critical Path.


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