We are in the age of on-demand products. This buzzword has taken the world by storm. From on-demand gaming to on-demand business solutions, short-term changes to requirements have become the norm today. The IT industry had been gearing up for such changes for a while and the answer they came up with was Agile.
Real-time planning, seamless management with short development sprints, easy change management coupled with error resolution and risk management early on in the project made Agile a direct fit in the mobile app development world.
Mobile apps are ever-changing, just like their users who may change their preferences at the last moment. A user might feel like uninstalling or never using an app just because the color scheme was not to their tastes or the UI was too cluttered. Therefore, app development is a constant process that requires inputs from customers for all changes in the UI that the ideation or development team might have missed.
What is Agile?
Agile development is defined as a methodology that provides the ability to move quickly and easily; relating to a method of project management that is defined by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. According to the list of procedures listed by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner in their book, Balancing Agility and Discipline: A guide for the perplexed about Agile development, an Agile team, and their product must:
- Have a simple design
- Possess the ability for releases in a short period of time
- Be ready for extensive team cooperation, pair programming, and testing during development
- Anticipate the need for change at any time
- Welcome change and using it as an advantage for a better product
By their nature, mobile apps are prone to:
- Short life cycles
- Short development cycles
- Frequently changing demands of users
- Varied hardware
- Quick to download, small payload sizes
- Frequently and easily updatable
Agile offers a development model that is extremely customer-centric and is well suited for a collaborative contribution to a project. Mobile apps are very customer-centric and each app is unique in its own way. These apps begin with ideation that can differ greatly from the final product.
In order to achieve what is expected, the development methodology needs to cater to change that may even include a complete overhaul of the application itself. In a traditional software development lifecycle that generally involves a waterfall-based model, deviating from the requirement analysis done at an early stage can wreak havoc on the agreed plan, causing a disruption in the development project and delays to the delivery timeline of the final product. Agile development does not follow segregated planning, development and testing cycles like the Waterfall model.
Agile development breaks up the development process into short cycles or sprints. As a working app is seen at the end of each sprint, customer feedback can be gauged at the outset, ensuring that the customer can influence the changes needed in the app at the outset, driving the project in the right direction and immediately reflecting any disruptive changes in successive iterations of the development process.
As an example, if an app is conceived using the traditional Waterfall methodology, the app would be ready for test and launch after the end of a long and tedious development process only to realize that a similar app has already been launched and the first-mover advantage has been lost.
If the project uses the Agile development methodology, a working model of the app will be delivered to the market very early, to gauge customer acceptance. The development team works on making changes and adding features to the app at every stage of its development and customer feedback is taken into account in real time.
The most essential aspect of agile development is that development itself never ceases. A true agile development team will continue to update and enhance their application well after it has been launched. Due to the ever-changing and dynamic nature of mobile software, and the unique challenges presented by mobile app development, an incremental agile approach is the best practice for mobile app developers.