Without a doubt, the Agile development movement is growing. Since the original publication of The Agile Manifesto in 2001, countless companies and individuals have ascribed to this philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of software development geared around the business's needs, as well as collaboration and timely production and delivery.
Yet for all the gains made by Agile, many organizations continue to resist this approach to software development, as Forbes contributor Steve Denning recently highlighted. The author noted that while there are many reasons why firms hesitate to embrace Agile, it seems likely that this strategy will almost inevitably triumph over other approaches to software development. Its benefits are simply too great for businesses to ignore forever.
Denning reported that following a recent piece highlighting the company Etsy and how it uses Agile to complete as many as 30 upgrades every day, he received feedback from many readers as to why they don't need Agile in their businesses. Among the most common arguments was that their organizations were not software-dependent, and so Agile was not a major concern for them.
This, Denning explained, is a serious misconception. The fact of the matter is that software is already essential for businesses in every industry and of all sizes. And this trend will only pick up speed in the next few years. Those firms that fail to improve their abilities to leverage software will almost certainly lose their competitive edge soon, if they haven't already.
The writer went on to note that Agile development processes are now commonplace in a huge range of industries, including hydraulics, retail, manufacturing and more. He pointed out that smaller and younger companies are more likely to utilize Agile processes than older, larger firms. However, this is not due to any inherent differences between these organizations, but rather the simple fact that the latter group tends to struggle to adapt. This provides a major advantage to leaner startups.
"Networked organizations using Agile management practices with a culture of trust, delegation and collaboration are able to move and innovate much more rapidly than traditional managements that are saddled with legacy cultures of hierarchical bureaucracy, slow-moving processes with approvals up and down the chain and the structural barriers of organizational silos," Denning wrote.
With Agile, businesses can regularly release new upgrades, even on a daily basis. Without it, firms can usually only manage a few updates per year, he explained. As time goes on, this laggardness will be more than just a disadvantage.
"Becoming Agile will steadily become a requirement just to stay in business," Denning argued. "In effect, for most companies, failure to acquire digital agility will be an existential threat and so, establishing digital agility has become in effect a strategic necessity."
Fortunately, making the move to Agile development does not need to be as difficult as many business leaders seem to fear. Agile is, after all, essentially a philosophy, an approach to software development. It can applied to virtually any organization, assuming business leaders follow two key steps.
First, they must select and deploy the right tools. Code review solutions, for example, are essential for enabling the level of collaboration necessary for effective Agile development. Without these and other tools in place, developers will not be able to work simultaneously on a given piece of code, thereby limiting the speed benefits offered by Agile.
Second, decision-makers must instill the Agile philosophy among their developers. If the company's personnel continue to operate in a pre-Agile paradigm, then the organization will fall behind its competitors.