Agile Explained: The 5 Stages of the Agile Development Lifecycle
Agile development is a straightforward, systematic software development methodology. When followed and implemented properly, Agile helps teams deliver high-quality software on time and on budget.
The beauty of Agile is realized throughout a series of five stages, known as the software development lifecycle: Ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations. Read on for a closer look at the ins and outs of each stage, as well as tips to improve success throughout the entire Agile development lifecycle.
A bit of background on Agile
Agile is an iterative approach to software development. Instead of delivering a final working product at the end of the development lifecycle, teams work in small timeframes of usually one to three weeks, known as sprints. Throughout sprints, teams collaborate and provide feedback on the work in progress. Frequent communication like this keeps teams adaptable to changing business and user needs, and leads to the delivery of higher quality software products. Read more about Agile frameworks.
The 5 stages of the Agile development lifecycle
Stage 1: Ideation
All successful Agile software development projects begin with an ideation stage. Working closely with stakeholders, the business team, developers, and the future users of the app, the Agile product owner pieces together the vision for the project by:
- Defining the purpose and goal of the new software
- Determining and documenting business and user requirements
- Prioritizing tasks and allocating resources
Stage 2: Development
After ideation, teams can start building the first iteration of the software. The development phase includes all related production tasks, such as UX/UI design, architecting, and coding.
Developing the first iteration of a software product is often the longest stage of the Agile application development lifecycle.
Stage 3: Testing
Development went smoothly and the team is happy with the first iteration of the app. But before it’s released, it has to go through quality assurance. The Agile team tests the app to ensure full functionality by:
- Checking that the code is clean
- Addressing bugs and errors
- Performing trial runs
Stage 4: Deployment
Once the app is ready for release, the Agile team deploys it to the cloud or an on-premise server.
Stage 5: Operations
Once the magic button is pushed, the work continues. Ongoing maintenance helps squash bugs and maintain functionality. As users engage with the app, there will be opportunities to collect feedback and make improvements that can be released in future iterations.
Related reading: How to Structure an Agile Development Scrum Team
How to improve software development agility
At the foundation of Agile are five key areas that propel speed and agility: Methodology, Architecture, Automation, Infrastructure, and Technology.
It’s important to honestly evaluate where your organization lies in regards to each area. Are you ready to accommodate changing business needs? If you are currently less mature in a specific area, it just means you have more opportunities to improve. Let’s take a closer look at each of the five focus areas and some recommendations.
Make sure to improve collaboration between business and IT and allow for faster discovery of project requirements to ensure a quicker time to value. Allowing for quick adoption to changing business needs improves speed and agility throughout all phases.
Design your solutions using the principles from a component-based or microservices architecture. This enables teams to create autonomous and independent systems, allowing for flexibility due to the reduced impact of change.
Manual work is time-consuming and prone to error. Start by measuring the time spent on all manual tasks and continuously keep automating the most time-consuming work.
A flexible infrastructure keeps teams adaptable to continuous change. Many IaaS providers already allow for immediate provisioning of servers. The next step is containerization which, in combination with automation, can lead to self-service and fully automated provisioning.
Technology is what ultimately enables agility. To achieve the most value, it’s imperative to choose the right technology for the job. While identifying your focus areas, look at your underlying business goals and select a tool that helps you achieve those goals with the least amount of effort.
Do your due diligence and adopt a combination of technologies that can collaboratively support you in the pursuit of becoming agile. Choose technologies that are open and can easily increase your agility, but are also capable of growing with you.
How does DevOps fit in?
Adopting DevOps tools and practices won’t automatically make an organization agile. Each Agile software development phase has a different goal, and achieving those goals requires a tactical approach.
Agile development does lay a foundation that helps DevOps teams thrive, and low-code development platforms provide the environment where the two can unite. The Mendix low-code Platform is designed with Agile in mind. You can fit the Mendix Platform into your existing processes by connecting your existing agile requirements suite, leveraging the built-in agile toolset, or running your apps on the Mendix Cloud.
This blog post was originally published on May 16, 2018, and has been updated to include the most current information.