Agile Life Cycle for Software Development

Instructor: Bob Bruner

Bob is a software professional with 24 years in the industry. He has a bachelor's degree in Geology, and also has extensive experience in the Oil and Gas industry.

The Life Cycle for a software product will pass through a set of stages in its evolution over time. In this lesson, we will investigate how these phases typically fit together in an Agile Software Development Life Cycle.

A Project Lifecycle

Many successful software companies have a story about the founders of the company getting together over a beer and feverishly scribbling their ideas down on the back of their napkins. It makes for a great historical anecdote. But, in order to figure out how they go to their eventual success, we must understand how they were able to get their ideas from the back of those napkins to having a viable and sustainable product. We can better understand how that happens by exploring one method commonly used in software development called the Agile Software Development Life Cycle.

Agile Starting Phases

The key ideas that are used to drive a company forward will usually be captured in a single repository, and the organization will undertake some form of Portfolio Management process to help organize and prioritize their active and potential projects. A vision for the possible timing of these deliveries is often maintained in a Business Roadmap. This roadmap will be updated on a regular basis to reflect key business or technical concerns that arise over time. This Envisioning process forms the very front end of the project life cycle, and it provides a formalized way to maintain all those napkins we heard about at the beginning of this lesson.

Eventually, management will approve one or more projects to begin active work. At that point, there is often some form of Kick-Off or Inception process that moves the project from the Envisioning phase to an active phase of delivery. This Inception process is typically one of the shorter phases of the life cycle but it will address some of the key aspects of the project, such as funding or resource allocation.

Agile Development Phases

Once active work has begun, the project moves into an active production phase. In the Agile software life cycle, this active phase is referred to as the Development or Construction phase. The entire team will actively work on stories derived from the Product Backlog, seeking to maintain a cycle of constant, incremental progress. The smallest unit of this life cycle is the daily standup meeting. Most software teams will opt to block off one to three weeks for single iterations or sprints. Within this iterative framework, it is possible for a team to deliver a single feature or story. If a larger story or feature has been broken down into smaller features for ease of delivery and tracking, then multiple iterations are cycled through to finalize the delivery.

Delivery and Follow Through

In the Agile software process, the end result of every construction iteration should be a technically feasible release product. The organization may have systems in place to move these release candidates into full Production mode, which is the final active stage of the product life cycle. But, in many cases organizations will require a short period to Transition into this Production phase. This transition stage may include additional regression or integration testing, or possibly other business activities that might need to accompany the release. In general, this phase will be time used to ensure that products that move to production are completely supportable by the organization.

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