The Agile development methodology is supposed to be one of the great new advances in software development. Traditional waterfall techniques provide slower production time and are more restricted to what the initial design plans are. Agile was supposed to allow for quick turn around and delivered results within weeks rather than later. Here I would like to counter these claims and tell you about my own experiences while using Agile methodologies.
One of the key features of the Agile methodologies is that documentation is kept to a minimum in order to produce results quickly. This can cause a problem in several ways. First, the client who receives the product is left with little to follow when it comes to maintaining or using the product. Secondly, the developers who are placed on the project, say mid-development, have little to go by when being introduced to the code and therefore, have a huge learning curve to overcome.
No Well Defined Plan
If the waterfall is a straight free fall then the agile process is a hurricane. Being flexible doesn’t always mean getting things done correctly or the most efficient. When business plans change it is not always the easiest for a development team. This can mean that something simple bloats into something huge resulting in a massive overhaul requiring untold amount of time. Likewise, not having a well defined plan to start with can lead to the developer not knowing exactly what the client wants and thus, wasting time building something that the client, in the end, may or may not have wanted.
The Good News
Using the Agile development process can be a good thing given that the fore-mentioned items are taken care of. Having a decent starting plan and understanding of where you want a project to go greatly mitigates turn around time when small details wished to be changed. Building on that is the creation of documentation. If creation of documentation becomes a story for one of the cycles it will make life easier rather than after the project is complete trying to generate documentation for a 3 or 4 year project.