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Agile methodology for mobile app development: why and how to use it

Mobile app development follows the same rules. You definitely want to avoid getting lost in the wilderness of uncertainty and delays. So now it's time to look at your development approach.

21 July, 2023
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In every fast-paced environment, staying ahead is crucial. Mobile app development follows the same rules. You definitely want to avoid getting lost in the wilderness of uncertainty and delays. We've talked about the potential of A/B testing mobile apps, and now it's time to look at your development approach.

Your approach is just as important as choosing a tech stack for your mobile app. And Agile methodology is a card up your sleeve when it comes to faster delivery, increased quality, and improved collaboration. Your dream top-tier mobile app agency is already using it to improve efficiency. Want to know what’s so good about it? Let's dive in!

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What is Agile methodology?

Agile methodology is an iterative and collaborative approach to project management and software development that emphasizes adaptability, flexibility, and continuous improvement. Unlike traditional methods, Agile promotes breaking projects into smaller increments called "sprints" and focuses on delivering value to customers in short cycles.

The history of Agile can be traced back to the early 2000s when a group of 17 software developers, including Scrum's Kent Beck and Jeff Sutherland and Extreme Programming's Ken Schwaber, came together to discuss and document a new way of developing software. This led to the creation of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, which outlined the core principles and values of Agile methodology.

Agile originated as a response to the shortcomings of traditional, rigid project management approaches. It aimed to address the challenges of changing requirements, long development cycles, and limited customer involvement. By embracing Agile, teams could better adapt to evolving needs, improve collaboration, and deliver high-quality software.

Agile methodology has gained significant popularity since its inception. Many well-known companies across various industries have adopted Agile practices. For instance, tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have embraced Agile to enhance their software development processes. Agile is also widely used in the startup ecosystem, where agility and rapid iteration are critical for success.

Benefits of Agile methodology for mobile app development

By embracing Agile, teams unlock a few significant advantages that revolutionize their development process.

Faster delivery

Faster delivery happens because Agile focuses on iterative development and incremental delivery. It breaks the project into smaller, manageable tasks completed within a fixed timeframe. This approach allows quicker turnaround times as features and functionalities are delivered gradually throughout development.

Agile also directly influences application delivery terms by emphasizing frequent communication, collaboration, and feedback. Involving stakeholders and customers in the development process ensures that their requirements and expectations are continually addressed and incorporated into the evolving product. This real-time feedback loop enables developers to make adjustments, prioritize features, and deliver value-added updates more rapidly.

To maximize the benefit of faster delivery in Agile, maintain a well-defined product backlog with clear priorities to help your team focus on delivering the most valuable features first. Reviewing and refining the backlog also ensures that development efforts align with customer needs.

Increased quality

By incorporating quality-focused practices into each sprint, such as frequent iterations and feedback loops, Agile enables teams to identify and address issues promptly, resulting in a higher quality standard for the final product. Its iterative nature enables continuous testing, allowing for comprehensive bug detection, performance optimization, and user experience enhancements.

To succeed in quality improvement, add automated testing to your process to continuously verify and validate the application’s functionality, reducing the risk of regression and ensuring that changes do not introduce new defects.

Increased flexibility

Increased flexibility is a notable benefit of using Agile in mobile app development as it enables teams to adapt and respond to changing requirements, market conditions, and customer feedback.

Agile methodologies emphasize embracing change throughout the development process. This iterative approach helps incorporate new features, modifications, and enhancements during each sprint, ensuring that the mobile app remains aligned with evolving business goals and user expectations.

Improved collaboration

Agile methodologies prioritize close collaboration between developers, designers, testers, product owners, and other team members, enhancing cooperation and shared understanding.

It promotes frequent and transparent communication channels. Daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning sessions, and retrospectives create opportunities for team members to align their efforts, share progress updates, and address any challenges collectively.

By involving stakeholders throughout the development process, Agile encourages active participation, feedback, and collaboration, ensuring that the final product meets their expectations.

Utilizing collaboration tools and platforms, such as project management software, version control systems, and communication channels, facilitate seamless information exchange and real-time collaboration.

Faster time to market

Faster time to market enables organizations to release their mobile apps more quickly and stay ahead in the competitive market landscape. Agile methodologies prioritize delivering incremental value and working software in shorter time frames, allowing you to seize market opportunities and respond to customer demands promptly.

Agile’s sprints focus on delivering a shippable product increment at the end of each iteration. By working in smaller increments and continuously releasing new features and improvements, mobile app development teams can accelerate the overall development timeline and shorten the time it takes to launch the app.

Exploring options for mobile design?

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Challenges of implementing Agile methodology for mobile app development

Let’s explore potential hurdles and obstacles when adopting Agile methodology for mobile app development.

Difficulty in estimating time & cost

Estimating time and cost is a common challenge in Agile methodology due to its inherent flexibility and evolving requirements. Unlike traditional approaches, Agile embraces change, and as a result, project requirements and scope can evolve throughout the development process. This dynamic nature makes it challenging to accurately estimate the time and cost of completing specific tasks or delivering the final product.

Managing technical debt

Technical debt refers to the accumulated compromises or shortcuts taken during the development process that may result in suboptimal code quality or system design. Agile often prioritizes delivering working software quickly, which may lead to trade-offs in code quality or system architecture. Balancing the need for speed and delivering value with the need for long-term sustainability becomes crucial to effectively managing technical debt.

To address it, promote regular code reviews, refactoring, and proactive debt management. Identifying and prioritizing technical debt items in the product backlog ensures they receive appropriate attention and resources. Allocating dedicated time for refactoring and technical debt reduction within each sprint also allows teams to prevent accumulated debt.

Difficulty in prioritizing features

Agile encourages flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing requirements, making it challenging to determine which features should be prioritized for development. The difficulty arises from balancing various factors such as customer needs, business goals, technical feasibility, and market trends. Stakeholders may have different priorities, and there can be limited resources and time available for development.

To mitigate this challenge, adding techniques like user stories, impact vs. effort analysis, and value-based prioritization can help assess the potential impact and value of each feature. Regularly reviewing and reevaluating feature priorities throughout the development process also allows for adjustments as new information emerges or market conditions change.

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How does Agile methodology for mobile app development work?

Finally, here are the inner workings of Agile methodology in the context of mobile app development.

Software life cycle

Rather than a linear progression, Agile's software life cycle consists of repeated sprint cycles. Each sprint encompasses a set timeframe, typically one to four weeks, during which a specific set of tasks is planned, developed, tested, and delivered.

Software life cycle
Software life cycle

It generally consists of the following phases:

  1. Requirements gathering. Defining and prioritizing the requirements for the mobile app, often using user stories or a product backlog.
  2. Sprint planning. The team selects a set of prioritized user stories from the product backlog to be worked on, then breaks down these stories into tasks and estimates the effort required.
  3. Development. The work on implementing the selected user stories, following coding standards, best practices, and collaborating with other team members as needed.
  4. Testing. Throughout the sprint, the testing team performs various tests, including unit testing, integration testing, and acceptance testing, to ensure the quality and functionality of the mobile app.
  5. Review and demo. At the end of each sprint, a review or demo session is conducted to showcase the completed user stories to stakeholders.
  6. Retrospective. The development team holds a retrospective meeting to reflect on the sprint, identify areas of improvement, and discuss any challenges faced.
  7. Repeat. The software life cycle continues with subsequent sprints, iterating on the process and progressively delivering new features and improvements.

Management frameworks

In Agile methodology, management frameworks provide structured approaches and guidelines for implementing Agile principles and practices. Here are some commonly used management frameworks in Agile:

  • Scrum. This popular framework divides the project into time-boxed iterations, usually lasting 1-4 weeks. Scrum teams follow a defined set of roles (such as product owner, scrum master, and development team), events (such as daily stand-ups and sprint reviews), and artifacts (such as product backlog and sprint backlog) to manage and prioritize work.
  • Kanban. A visual framework that focuses on maintaining a continuous flow of work. It uses a Kanban board to visualize tasks, workflow stages, and work-in-progress (WIP) limits.
  • Lean. Lean principles aim to eliminate waste and maximize value delivery. It emphasizes continuous improvement, identifying and eliminating non-value-adding activities, and optimizing flow.
  • Extreme Programming (XP). This Agile framework promotes test-driven development (TDD), pair programming, continuous integration, and short development cycles.
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Project management tools

Project management tools are crucial in facilitating and supporting Agile practices by providing teams with the necessary features and functionalities to plan, track, and collaborate on their work.

For example, Jira is a widely adopted project management tool that offers backlog management, sprint planning, user story tracking, and issue/task tracking. It allows teams to create and manage Kanban boards, Scrum boards, and customizable workflows to visualize and track progress.

Same with Microsoft’s Azure DevOps Services, offering backlog management, sprint planning, version control, continuous integration, and release management. Teams can create boards, track work items, and collaborate seamlessly using Azure DevOps.

Another helpful tool is Trello, a user-friendly and flexible project management tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize tasks. It is especially suitable for teams practicing Kanban.

Last but not least, Asana is a versatile project management tool that offers task management, collaboration, and progress tracking features. It provides flexible board and list views, allowing teams to visualize and manage their work in a way that aligns with Agile practices.

Exploring options for mobile design?

Merge is here to help.

Learn more

Unlock the benefits of Agile methodology for your mobile app

In conclusion, Agile methodology benefits any organization or team involved in software development or project management. It is particularly suited for complex projects with evolving requirements and where collaboration and feedback are essential. Agile is also quite advantageous for your cross-functional teams, allowing them to respond to change quickly, deliver incremental value, and continuously improve the product.

Agile best suits those who value flexibility, customer collaboration, and rapid delivery. Startups, software development companies, product-based businesses, and even non-IT industries looking to streamline mobile application development can benefit from adopting Agile principles and methodologies. It enables your teams to embrace change, respond to customer needs, and deliver high-quality products that meet user expectations.

author

CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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