Mar 30th, 2021

The Brief History of Agile Software Development 2024


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In the early 1990s, PC computing began to rise in organizations, but software development faced a hurdle. At that time, people used to call this crisis the "application delivery lag" or "the application development crisis." At that time, organizations used to estimate three years between a validated business need and an actual application in production. But, business doesn't work like that. Even those days, businesses moved faster than three years' time span.

If you had to wait for three years to solve the problems your business faces, your business requirements, systems, and even the entire business can change in three years. Because of this time crisis, businesses used to cancel many projects halfway. And many projects failed to match the requirements and needs.

In several industries like aerospace and defense industries, the application delivery lag was more than three years. It would take around 20 years or more than that before a system went into use.

Before agile came, several industries like software, aerospace, manufacturing used to follow the waterfall approach. They would identify problems and work to create a plan that solves the problem. For example, the development team used to-

  • Set requirements and work scope for a project
  • Design the product based on predefined requirements
  • Build the product
  • Test the product
  • Identify problems during the testing
  • Fix the problem
  • Launch the finished product

This waterfall approach needs you to stick to the plan set at the very beginning of your project. That means you can't make any necessary changes along the way, even if it's needed. Now, this created a lot of havoc since a fixed plan could be inconvenient. Moreover, the waterfall approach was all about bringing a finished product to the market, even if it takes years to complete.

The waterfall approach was creating a lot of problems for both the developer and the customer. As it would take years to come up with a solution, the problem's nature would change. Eventually, when they used to launch the planned solution in the market, it would become outdated. These delays in product delivery led to the delivery of an unfinished product that no longer had any market fit.

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Industries were Frustrated with the Waterfall Approach

Several industries started to show their frustration with the waterfall approach. During the 1990s, a large crowd of software development teams began to plan for a new approach. Among them, Jon Kern was one such frustrated thought leader who became increasingly active to find something more "timely and responsive."

In the early 2000s, Jon Kern and his group of 17 software developers started meeting in Oregon. They used to brainstorm the idea of speeding up development tomes to bring new software faster to the market. That led them identifying two ways to make this idea come alive-

  • To solve the product-market fit and unfinished product problem- shortening the delay of benefits to customers.
  • To ensure the usefulness of the new software and improve it- gathering feedback from customers.

Although that time, the meeting in Oregon didn't result in the birth of agile methodology; it was the first big step in the history of agile.

A New Ideology is Born: The History of Agile Manifesto

After the Oregon meeting, Jon Kern and the 17 groups of developers (Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, and twelve others) met at a snowbird ski resort, Utah in 2001. In the meeting, they discussed further to develop a stronger solution for the development problems of that time. Within a couple of days, the agile group created the "Manifesto of Agile Software Development," also known as the Agile Manifesto. The manifesto served four values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

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The agile group didn't stop after representing the four values. They added more colors to the manifesto by stating 12 principles of the agile manifesto. These principles are:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
  10. Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

Introducing a New Era: The Expand of Agile

In 2001, Agile started its journey, but the legacy of agile had only just begun. After that meeting, the 17 thought-leaders of the agile manifesto started promoting the value of agile to the world. The desire to promote the value of the agile manifesto encouraged them to create an organization. And the Agile Alliance was introduced in the history of agile.

Agile Alliance- a nonprofit organization that works to spread words about Agile. Its goal is to help teams adopt the Agile methodology by providing resources. Also, the organization work to improve the agile approach to meet changing needs.

After the birth of agile, throughout the 20s several software development teams contributed to the agile methodology. They introduced us with "role-feature-reason," "retrospective," "quick decisions and many more practices.

In 2003, the Agile Alliance organized its first conference in Utah. It was named Agile 20XX, and its goal was to expand the agile principles and provide a venue for people to flourish their ideas. The Agile Alliance has expanded its presence over the years. Even today, they organize agile events, support affiliate groups, and promote agile ideology in organizations.

So, What's the Future of Agile

Since Agile began its journey in 2001, it has been used in every sector to resolve its challenges. Not just software development, we are now seeing the impact of agile in retail, human resource, manufacturing, and even in the organizational culture. So, it's not a secret that agile is a powerful tool in this data-driven world.

As Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Netflix, popular companies are agile. Although they don't follow any standard agile vocabulary, their business success mostly depends on agility. As per Capterra , 71% of companies use agile approaches. Another study reported that companies that adopted agile software witness 60% growth in their revenues. Another study by McKinsey reported that 90% of senior executives prioritize becoming agile, while 10% are now highly agile.

These days we are seeing a hike in DevOps' idea (a continuous delivery loop in which new software can be introduced to the market at any time). DevOps' idea is to end the agile approach by delivering high-quality products to the customers as fast as possible. However, it's not easy to end the agile approach and embrace a new idea currently. Also, people seem to use DevOps and Agile simultaneously. So, it can be said, Agile is here to stay in the upcoming years and beyond.


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