The Agile Method

Provided by guest blogger, Marianne Cardwell, Woolpert subject matter expert, Indianapolis

Years ago, and still at times to this day, our developers approach new projects using the waterfall model. In the past, we would spend hours and sometimes days talking to various stakeholders to determine what their needs were. We would then retreat to our offices or cubicles and put together the requirements and design a whole system on paper. This design process could take weeks or months. Once we were happy with the design and had approval from the customer, we would implement it and eventually show the end result to the client.

This often meant that, especially with larger systems, our clients wouldn’t get to view or use the system we had developed until months after we initially discussed the requirements with them. It would follow the design we had put together and have all of the identified requirements. Unfortunately, this process has some significant downsides. One of the biggest downsides is the user’s inability to play with the software before it is completed. We have found that it is impossible to predict all of the requirements of an application ahead of time: requirements change over time, new technologies become available, and what seemed like a high priority at one point can become unnecessary later on.

To improve the software development process, Woolpert increasingly follows the Agile method. The Agile Manifesto states:

This Agile method is based on iterative and incremental development cycles, allowing for new requirements and changes in requirements during the project’s duration. Additionally, the software is released on a regular cycle allowing users to play with it and provide feedback along the way.

We have found this software development approach to be much more effective and provide higher client satisfaction as the end product, while it might not be exactly what was proposed at the beginning of the project, will be much closer to what was actually needed.

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