Agile Methodology: Benefits & Disadvantages

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  • 0:04 What Is Agile?
  • 1:19 Benefits of Agile
  • 3:56 Disadvantages of Agile
  • 5:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laury Hales

Laury has taught in professional adult education settings for over 10 years and is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

Agile has been a buzzword in project management for a decade, and with good reason. In this lesson, we'll look at the benefits and disadvantages of agile methodology and how it can be applied to a typical project.

What Is Agile?

Meet Oliver! He's a senior project manager at a gaming software company. Oliver routinely uses agile methods for the games his company develops. He is starting a new project to develop a game called War Games, and the customer wants to know why Oliver will use agile to manage the project. Today, he's discussing the benefits and disadvantages of agile with his customer.

Oliver starts with an explanation of agile. Agile is an umbrella term for several methodologies that all use iterative work packages. Each work package has a 'mini-phase' to define, build, test, and release the software, or whatever the project deliverable is.

Agile uses iterative work cycles

Now that the customer understands what agile is, he moves on to the benefits and disadvantages of using agile. To start his explanation, Oliver lists the benefits and disadvantages of agile. The benefits of agile are that it is more flexible, it offers a faster delivery to the customer, and it provides better communication. The disadvantages of agile are that can be hard to predict, the final product is not released first, and the documentation is left for last.

Oliver begins explaining each a little more, using the upcoming War Games project as an example.

Benefits of Agile

Agile is flexible, a huge benefit when the customer requirements or priorities frequently change. Agile also gets the product to the market faster and has better team communication than traditional methods. Let's talk about each of these in a bit more detail.

More flexible

Agile adapts to change better than traditional project management approaches. Requirements can be added, deleted, or changed at the beginning of each iterative cycle, guiding the project team on the work for the next iteration. The customer can also shift priorities at the beginning of each cycle, allowing the project team to keep up with the customer's business needs.

Oliver uses the War Game project as an example. Since this is a brand new software game, nobody really knows all the details of what the game should do, other than shoot enemies in war. To begin the project, the team defines high-level objectives and prioritizes them. The programmers pull the first tasks and create working software.

The game testers will have it for a few days and give Oliver more things the game characters should do. One may need a flame thrower gun, and another might need a machine gun. Those requirements will be added to the existing list, and the customer may set new priorities. Some of the new requirements may be priorities, so the team will work on those for the next iteration. Working this way allows the team to accommodate customer changes in requirements and priorities.

Product Gets to Market Faster

The product gets to market faster using agile because the focus is on working deliverables, not finished products. The requirements defined during a particular iteration are built into a working model.

Oliver refers back to War Games. The initial requirements are to have two soldiers fighting terrorists in a wasteland. The team will deliver working software meeting all those requirements during the first iteration, even knowing that more requirements will come up. The customer could release that version, getting the product to market faster than if the team waited until the end of the project to deliver a game with every feature that the customer will eventually want.

Better Communication

Because the project team works closely with the customer to revisit requirements and priorities, agile has better communication than traditional methods. The cyclic nature of iterative cycles drives continual feedback, ensuring the team has high levels of communication.

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