The 5 Stages of the Agile Software Development Lifecycle

The Agile software development lifecycle is a straightforward, systematic software methodology. When followed and implemented properly, Agile helps teams deliver high-quality software on time and within budget.

Agile includes the five stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC):

  1. Ideation
  2. Development
  3. Testing
  4. Deployment
  5. Operations

Read on for a closer look at the ins and outs of each stage of the SDLC and find tips to improve success throughout the Agile software development lifecycle.

The Agile process background

The Agile framework is an iterative approach to software development. Instead of delivering a final working product at the end of the development lifecycle, teams work in small timeframes. These timeframes, called sprints, are usually one to three weeks.

Throughout sprints, teams collaborate and provide feedback on the work in progress. With frequent communication, teams adapt to changing business and user needs. Communication also leads to the delivery of high-quality software products.

The 5 stages of the Agile software development lifecycle

Stage 1: Ideation

All successful Agile software development projects begin with an ideation stage.

The Agile product owner (PO) works closely with stakeholders, the business team, developers, and future app users. Guided by the greater team, the PO pieces together a project vision by:

  • Defining the purpose and goal of the new software
  • Determining and documenting business and user requirements
  • Prioritizing tasks and allocating resources

Stage 2: Development

After ideation, teams can start building the first iteration of the software. The development phase includes all related production tasks in the SDLC, such as UX/UI design, architecting, and coding.

Developing the first iteration of a software product is often the longest stage of the Agile application development lifecycle.

Stage 3: Testing

Development went smoothly, and the team is happy with the app’s first iteration. Before release, the app has to go through a quality assurance check. The Agile team tests the app to ensure full functionality by:

  • Checking that the code is clean
  • Addressing bugs and errors
  • Performing trial runs

Stage 4: Deployment

Once the app is ready for release, the Agile team deploys it to the cloud or an on-premise server.

Once deployed, the product is live and accessible to customers. Deployment tends to be the most celebratory moment in the SDLC: You did it! Pat yourself on the back now, but there’s one more stage to go.

Stage 5: Operations

After pushing the magic button, the work continues. Ongoing maintenance helps squash bugs and maintain functionality. As users engage with the app, there will be opportunities to collect feedback and make improvements to release in future iterations.

5 ways to improve software development agility

The Agile software development cycle is about bringing out the best in your team. At the foundation of Agile are five key areas that propel speed and agility: Methodology, Architecture, Automation, Infrastructure, and Technology.

It’s important to evaluate where your organization lies in each area honestly. Are you ready to accommodate changing business needs? If you are currently less mature in a specific area, you have more opportunities to improve.

Let’s look at each of the five focus areas and some recommendations.

1. Methodology

Improve collaboration between business and IT and allow faster discovery of project requirements to ensure a quicker time to value. Allowing for rapid adoption to changing business needs improves speed and agility throughout all phases.

2. Architecture

Design your solutions using the principles from a component-based or microservices architecture. This architecture enables teams to create autonomous and independent systems, reducing the impact of change and increasing flexibility.

3. Automation

Manual work is time-consuming and prone to error. Start by measuring the time spent on all manual tasks and continuously automating the most time-consuming work.

4. Infrastructure

A flexible infrastructure keeps teams adaptable to continuous change. Many IaaS providers already allow for immediate provisioning of servers. The next step is containerization, which, in combination with automation, can lead to self-service and fully automated provisioning.

5. Technology

Technology is what ultimately enables agility. To achieve the most value, choosing the right technology for the job is imperative. While identifying your focus areas, look at your underlying business goals. Select a tool that helps you achieve those goals with the least amount of effort.

Do your due diligence and adopt a combination of technologies that can collaboratively support you in becoming Agile. Choose open technologies that will quickly increase your agility and grow with you.

How does DevOps fit in?

Adopting DevOps tools and practices won’t automatically make an organization Agile. Each Agile software development phase has a different goal, and achieving those goals requires a tactical approach.

Agile development helps DevOps teams thrive, and low-code development platforms provide the environment where the two can unite.

The Mendix low-code platform is designed with Agile in mind. You can fit Mendix into your existing processes in different ways:

  • Connect your existing Agile requirements suite
  • Leverage the built-in Agile toolset
  • Run your apps on the Mendix Cloud

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