Agile vs. Iterative Development

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  • 0:00 Iterative Development & Agile
  • 1:46 Iterative Development…
  • 3:21 Agile Framework
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephen Meyer

Stephen has worked as a Project Manager and is PMP certified, as well as certified by the Scrum Alliance.

Iterative development is often identified with Agile, but it is not unique to Agile. Traditional project methodologies can use iterative development without incorporating the other components of Agile. Learn the similarities and differences between Agile and more traditional iterative development.

Iterative Development & Agile

Leon has recently started a new position at a software company. His previous company used Agile but his new company doesn't really know much about it. When he discusses it with his team, they respond that they use iterative development which seems the same as Agile. Leon doesn't believe this to be the case and decides the best thing to do is research iterative development and compare it to Agile.

Iterative development isn't a project methodology, but an approach that can be applied to project methodologies. It focuses on making the project timeline cyclical to account for necessary rework and improvements. It's innovative in the sense that it acknowledges that rework is typically required, and that there's always room for improvement. More often than not, it's actually an approach that is applied to traditional project methodologies, where the different aspects of the methodology aren't changed, but simply repeated.

Similar to iterative development, Agile isn't specifically a project methodology, but an approach to managing projects. Agile is an alternative to traditional methodologies. It focuses on responding to change and the unpredictable nature of projects, as well as increasing customer engagement by being both iterative and incremental. Unlike iterative development, Agile does more than repeat the aspects of a methodology, but actually changes the aspects as well. It's defined by the Agile Manifesto as a set of statements that identifies different aspects of projects that are valued over others. It includes the following:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Iterative Development Framework

After his team defines iterative development, Leon thinks that they're using a traditional methodology and have added iterations to it. He wants to learn more about how they approach the different aspects of a project like processes, timeframes, and customer engagement. He believes that these are treated the same, regardless of whether their approach is iterative or not.

While using iterative development, traditional project methodologies continue to take a sequential approach to processes. When a project is initiated, all requirements are determined first and are relatively binding for the individual requesting the project and the development team completing it. As the project progresses, all development is completed, and then testing is completed. In iterative development, only the development and testing processes are repeated throughout the project with time in between iterations for rework and improvements. The requirements process does not repeat. As development and testing recur, they remain in sequence and do not overlap.

Iterative development doesn't specifically address timeframes. The iterations can last weeks, even months, because there's no real limit. The project isn't completed until all iterations are complete. This means that the project length remains the same as it would if iterative development wasn't being used.

Iterative development does involve customers at the beginning of a project, but does not address continuing customer engagement during the project. Customers establish the requirements of the project at the beginning and receive the product when it's competed. The establishment of requirements is not repeated and the product is provided all at once to the customer once it's completed.

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