Intro to Agile Software Development Life Cycle - Forbytes (2022)

In 2021, Manifesto for Agile Software Development celebrated 20 years. During that time agile product development lifecycle became a mainstream methodology of project management not only in IT but also in other fields, including finance, marketing, sales, human resources, and hardware design. According to the 15th Annual State Of Agile Report, in 2021, around 86% of development teams adopted agile as their main production framework. While 32% of teams have applied agile for more than five years, 33% of developers reported that their company applies agile only for 3-5 years, proving that the methodology is still a relatively fresh concept for many enterprises.

So, what exactly is Agile SDLC, and why is everyone so obsessed with it? What are the Agile SDLC phases, and how to implement an Agile attitude? Are there any pitfalls? What is the Scrum master role in agile SDLC methodology? Read the article below to find answers to these and other related questions.

What Is Agile SDLC?

Before starting the detailed analysis of the Agile development life cycle, let’s draw a quick overview of the methodology.

The term Agile lifecycle was first introduced in 2001 by a group of software developers and managers who searched for a better way of organizing the software development process. On February 11-13, seventeen experts met together at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in Utah and composed a short document that became famous as the Agile Manifesto. Among the co-authors of the Manifesto, we can find such well-known experts as:

  • Jeff Sutherland (creator of the Scrum methodology)
  • Ken Schwaber (president of Advanced Development Methods who helped Sutherland to formalize the Scrum)
  • Mike Beedle (CEO of e-Architects Inc., and one of the first adopters of Scrum)
  • Robert C. Martin (a veteran C++ developer and theorist of the software development principles and practices)
  • Brian Marick (a prominent Ruby programmer and tester).

As you can see, the Agile approach was theorized and tested inside the Scrum community gathered in the early 1990-s. Although it repeats and expands the principles of Scrum in many ways, it is still different. While Scrum implies mostly the methodology of managing teamwork, the term Agile usually identifies the method of project stage structuring.

Principles of Agile

The initial reason why the Snowbird 17 met together was the feeling of frustration that originated from the experience of software development. After years of work, group members noticed that the focus of current software development shifted from satisfying a client to excessive project planning and product documentation. Snowbird 17 wanted to change things back. After three days of discussion, they forged four short maxims that conceptualized their vision of a new software development paradigm.

Intro to Agile Software Development Life Cycle - Forbytes (1)

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The ideas formulated in the Manifesto appeared so genuine that they became a core of corporate culture for many companies. At Forbytes, we follow the Agile principles as well.

What Are Agile Phases?

While the exact number of agile phases may vary, there are six stages that compose the core of the Agile cycle: concept, inception, iteration, delivery, support, and end of use.

  1. Everything begins with a concept. At this initial stage, a product owner prioritizes the most important project and determines its scope – a list of tasks required to deliver the product. To prepare the concept, a product owner conducts a product discovery. A meeting with the key stakeholders is organized, their needs and problems are discussed, and possible solutions are proposed. In the end, a product owner provides the plan of future work as well as a rough order of magnitude.
  2. Inception. Once the project outline is scratched, it’s time to begin the work. A project manager assembles the team and assigns the first tasks. While starting a project, developers must be supplied with all the required resources, including the physical and virtual infrastructure.
  3. The next step is the iteration phase, also known as the construction phase. This is the most time-consuming period of a project since it is the stage when a product is developed. The construction phase is structured in a row of Agile iterations, or sprints: short-time periods when a limited amount of work is done and tested. The aim is to receive a functioning product at the end of the first iteration.
  4. Release and testing. Before deploying a product for mass consumption, a separate team of testers should check if it functions well and has no serious issues and bugs. User training is also required.
  5. Maintenance. A product is deployed and is available for the consumers. Now, you have to maintain it. At this stage, the development team provides support and fixes new bugs and malfunctions. The client’s feedback about a product and the list of lacking features are also collected. After some time, an upgraded version of a product might be released.
  6. Retirement. The product served well, and now it’s time to replace it with a newer one. The publisher of a product notifies their clients about the end-of-use and prepares it for retirement. Support in migrating to a replacement system is necessary. In the end, developers carry out the last end-of-life activities and close the support.

Agile Team Structure

Agile roles are distributed in a way the development process can stay flexible and scalable. By choosing the right Agile team structure, you will arrange activities, processes, and workflows effectively. Here are some of the characteristics the development team structure should possess to be called Agile:

  • Cross-functionality is highly favored. Agile team roles are clearly defined but are not limited to particular aspects of work. The goal is to deliver quality products on time and satisfy a client. If cross-functional activities and the exchange of experience facilitate product development, team members are only welcome to mix their skills and knowledge.
  • There is no hierarchy. Agile structure says no to hierarchy implemented in traditional approaches. Instead, a cross-functional Agile team uses a flat structure under which team members work independently of each other and organize their tasks by themselves.
  • Collaboration is the key. Regardless of Agile team size, everyone has to support collaboration not only within a team but also across teams. Open communication, cross-training, readiness to help, and knowledge-sharing are the features valued and promoted under the Agile approach.

As you see, Agile teams differ from traditional ones in a number of aspects. Traditional teams are based on a hierarchical structure, which triggers competition and adversely affects communication and cooperation. Unlike the traditional approach, Agile development doesn’t drive internal rivalry. This method unites teams and individuals under shared goals.

Agile team structure for software engineering is classified into generalist, specialist, hybrid, parallel, and subteam. Generalist teams do not focus on specific aspects; they possess a general understanding of topics related to their objectives. The universality of this model allows generalist teams to perform a variety of tasks and effectively change their focus from one goal to another. Specialist teams consist of individuals with specialized knowledge. A member of such a team is strong in a particular niche and bears responsibility for the role that falls under this niche. As a rule, specialists are the best at generating insights and finding efficient ways of problem-solving in their target areas. Hybrid teams, in turn, combine the features of a specialist and generalist type. In a hybrid team, specialist representatives use their narrow-area expertise to maximize the quality of particular aspects of the goal. Meantime, generalists control the global picture and make sure that these components play well together.

Under parallel Agile team structure, one task is changed to another when interaction comes to an end. For instance, during one iteration, the whole team works on website optimization. When the iteration ends, they leave the optimization task and move to performance testing. This approach allows team members to maintain a fresh view of the development process and recharge their motivation and attentiveness to details. Last but not least, the subteam type of Agile structure presumes that particular individuals are included in larger teams to add extra value by implementing specific knowledge.

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When you choose the right team model, you need to make sure that you have enough professionals to fulfill the key roles. This is what your typical software development team structure should look like:

  • Product owner. A person who represents the interests of a customer. Their task is to clearly communicate client needs and offer guidance.
  • Team member. Any individual who works in a team and fulfills a particular role. For instance, UI/UX designer, software engineer, QA tester, etc.
  • Team lead. This individual coordinates teamwork, keeps an eye on workflow effectiveness, manages tasks, and organizes meetings.
  • Stakeholder. These are people possessing a particular interest in a product as they expect to get benefits after its release. These, for instance, can be product users or investors.

Yet, even when you have all these roles fulfilled by skilled individuals, the management of Agile iterations can be a challenging task. This is why you may need a Scrum master. What are their functions? Let’s discuss it in the next section.

What Is the Scrum Master Role in Agile SDLC Methodology?

As was said before, the development of a product within the Agile lifecycle happens during the construction phase.

A Scrum master teaches team members to be self-manageable and self-sufficient. Also, he or she dentifies and removes barriers that restrict the team’s progress. To do so, a Scrum master ensures that all of the events are productive, positive, and follow the schedule. While managing Agile iterations, a Scrum master keeps in close communication with a Product Owner. Together they define the Product goal, decide which items from the Product Backlog to choose, and organize the collaboration with the stakeholders.

What are the aspects you should consider while hiring a Scrum master? First of all, check the candidate’s certification. The official Scrum training provides three levels of mastery. Also, inquire if a candidate has true faith in self-organization, values rhythm, and steady pace of a workflow. While planning the interview, invite your current Product Owner to make sure that a candidate makes a perfect match with them.

Why Do You Need Agile?

Let’s refer once again to the State of Agile Report to answer this question. According to the report, the majority of product managers shifted towards the agile project life cycle to enhance the capability to administrate fluctuating priorities. Indeed, a short time span of a Scrum sprint allows adjusting the arrangement of tasks according to the changes in the product context. The other reason to adopt agile is a desire to accelerate the delivery of the consumable product. Moreover, many managers believe that the agile approach makes their teams more productive than the traditional waterfall attitude. The quality of a product developed with agile is also considered higher than average. Finally, predicting a product’s delivery terms is easier with agile than with waterfall.

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Variants of Agile Methodologies

The popularity of Agile and its appliances in different spheres resulted in the development of several variants of Agile methodology that are adapted for specific business needs.

  • One of them is called Nexus. The aim of Nexus is to help Scrum master scale Scrum framework for big projects without losing flexibility. A typical Nexus group includes three to nine Scrum teams working together on a single project. All Scrum teams are managed by a single Product Owner, who controls the backlog and assigns the tasks. The agility of the Nexus group relies on the decrease of cross-team dependency and maintaining the team’s self-sufficiency. The success of the Nexus group depends upon how a Product Owner structures the product and how they break it into single units. To get the work done, the Scrum master has to facilitate the communication between teams and make sure that the feedback is received without delay.

Intro to Agile Software Development Life Cycle - Forbytes (2)

  • The other solution for complex project management is the Scaled agile framework (SAFe). Under this approach, the agile team size is between 5 and 11 individuals. The problems SAFe addresses derive from the complexity of modern software development caused by the distribution of production multi-nationally, increase in product units and mergers, offshoring, and rapid growth of the demand for a product. To handle those challenges, experts from Scaled Agile, Inc. developed ten principles that help scale the Agile framework. Some of the SAFe principles include:
    1. Develop system thinking
    2. Be ready for the variability of the market and technical solutions
    3. Be open-minded to new options
    4. Increase the speed of production incrementally by constant learning and improvement of Agile iterations
    5. Limit work in progress and reduce work batch sizes
    6. Synchronize with cross-domain planning
    7. Decentralize decision-making
    8. Organize around the value of a product.

Intro to Agile Software Development Life Cycle - Forbytes (3)

  • The third alternative for scaling Scrum to multiple teams is Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS). The aim of the LeSS framework is to reduce the complexity of a project and hence reduce waste. Due to its simplicity, LeSS earned the title of ‘barely sufficient’ framework. Similar to the SAFe, the recommendations of LeSS are also organized in 10 principles:
    1. Large-scale Scrum remains to be the Scrum
    2. Control process with the empirically obtained data
    3. Keep the progress of a project as transparent as possible
    4. While scaling the teams, keep one Product Backlog managed by one Product Owner
    5. Determine value and waste in the eyes of a client
    6. Apply lean-thinking
    7. Learn queuing theory and optimize your ques.

Intro to Agile Software Development Life Cycle - Forbytes (4)

To gain maximum benefit from Agile, you can combine different aspects of mentioned methodologies in a single project.

Agile Pitfalls

After reading all of the described benefits of agile, you might ask yourself: if agile is so great compared to the waterfall methodology, why does the adoption rate is not 100%? Why do some companies deny agile?

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The results of the 15th Annual State of Agile Report show that the reason hides in the persistence of thinking. Among 10 barriers mentioned in the report, the most widespread are:

  • Discordance in the existing procedures and routines (checked by 46% of respondents)
  • Cultural hostility (checked by 43% of project managers)
  • General organizational denial of any kind of changes (mentioned by 46% of team members).

In some cases, product managers are convinced that Agile works well only for small teams and will not suit big enterprise-scale projects. In fact, such a belief is nothing more than a misconception. The difficulties of scaling Agile SDLC have been discussed for a long time and a number of specialized tactics were developed.

Dark Agile

The dark side of Agile’s high popularity is its turn into a ‘cargo cult’. Applied without a proper understanding of its values, Agile becomes nothing more than a magical methodology. The team starts focusing on the development process more than on the result itself. To avoid drifting towards the Dark Agile, monitor your working routing for the following symptoms:

  • The work discovery phase, design, and production are executed separately by individual teams. Within true Agile, all the teams should collaborate during the whole project.
  • The amount of planned work is huge. The team experience exceeding pressure from a Product Owner and hence fails to deliver outputs on time. The real aim of Agile was to avoid delays by breaking the work into pieces small enough to deliver outputs within short iterations.
  • Instead of one Product Owner, there are several people demanding results from the team.
  • Outputs became more important for a team than the business results (outcomes).

Final Thoughts

In 2022, the world of Agile software development has become super complicated. There are myriads of methodologies available for different business needs and management styles. Whether you manage a small team or administrate enterprise-scale product development, there is always something for you. And yet, despite awareness of Agile, many companies fail to implement it in its true form.

If you look for an experienced Project Manager who confesses true Agile values, contact the Forbytes team. We will gladly assist you with hiring a real professional and achieving your project goals.


What are the 5 lifecycle steps of an Agile project? ›

The beauty of Agile is realized throughout a series of five stages, known as the software development lifecycle: Ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations.

What is the agile software development life cycle? ›

The Agile software development life cycle is the structured series of stages that a product goes through as it moves from beginning to end. It contains six phases: concept, inception, iteration, release, maintenance, and retirement.

What are the 5 stages of SDLC? ›

The SDLC process includes planning, designing, developing, testing and deploying with ongoing maintenance to create and manage applications efficiently.
  • Planning and analysis. This phase is the most fundamental in the SDLC process. ...
  • Designing the product architecture. ...
  • Developing and coding. ...
  • Testing. ...
  • Maintenance.

What are the 6 steps in the agile methodology? ›

What are the 6 steps in Agile project management?
  • Project planning. ...
  • Product roadmap creation. ...
  • Release planning. ...
  • Sprint planning. ...
  • Daily stand-ups. ...
  • Sprint review and retrospective.
18 Mar 2022

What are the 4 pillars of Agile? ›

The four values of the Agile Manifesto
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

What are the 4 principles of Agile? ›

The four core values of Agile software development as stated by the Agile Manifesto are:
  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and.
  • responding to change over following a plan.

What is difference between SDLC and Agile? ›

A Waterfall SDLC focuses on delivering one complete product. With Agile, you focus on more achievable iterations, which helps guide your team's immediate actions.
The key differences between traditional SDLC and Agile.
Waterfall SDLCAgile
Different teams in different stagesOngoing collaboration
5 more rows
15 Aug 2022

What are the 6 stages of SDLC explain each? ›

The software development life cycle comprises requirement gathering, design, development, test, deployment, and maintenance. Each software development stage is handled by a dedicated team of professionals with expertise in the niche.

What is SDLC life cycle and its types? ›

SDLC provides a well-structured flow of phases that help an organization to quickly produce high-quality software which is well-tested and ready for production use. The SDLC involves six phases as explained in the introduction. Popular SDLC models include the waterfall model, spiral model, and Agile model.

Why is SDLC important? ›

Importance of SDLC

SDLC allows developers to analyze the requirements. It helps in reducing unnecessary costs during development. During the initial phases, developers can estimate the costs and predict costly mistakes. It enables developers to design and build high-quality software products.

What is the Agile model? ›

The meaning of Agile is swift or versatile."Agile process model" refers to a software development approach based on iterative development. Agile methods break tasks into smaller iterations, or parts do not directly involve long term planning.

Which SDLC model is best? ›

The answer to the question “which SDLC model is the best?” is Agile. The Agile model is a combination of an incremental and iterative approach and is focussed on fitting in well with flexible requirements.

What are the 3 principles of Agile? ›

The 3 principles behind agile tools - Transparency, Iteration, Empowerment.

What are 3 frameworks for Agile? ›

Scrum is the most common Agile framework. Others include the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Crystal, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD).

What are the 3 pillars of Scrum? ›

Understand Scrum

If you carefully scrutinize scrum, you will find again and again the three pillars of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What is the difference between agile and Scrum? ›

The key difference between Agile and Scrum is that while Agile is a project management philosophy that utilizes a core set of values or principles, Scrum is a specific Agile methodology that is used to facilitate a project.

What are the 6 Scrum principles? ›

The six principles are:
  • Control over the empirical process. In Scrum, the empirical process is based on observation of hard evidence and experimentation rather than theory. ...
  • Self-organization. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Value-based prioritization. ...
  • Time-boxing. ...
  • Iterative development.
23 Nov 2021

What is the 80/20 rule in agile? ›

The Pareto Principle, commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of causes. Or, in terms of work and time management, 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of your results.

Why Agile model is best? ›

Agile methods can help teams manage work more efficiently and do the work more effectively while delivering the highest quality product within the constraints of the budget.

What is the advantage of Agile model? ›

Advantages of Agile model:

Customer satisfaction by rapid, continuous delivery of useful software. People and interactions are emphasized rather than process and tools. Customers, developers and testers constantly interact with each other. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months).

Is Scrum is SDLC model? ›

Scrum is not an SDLC because it does not cover all of the generally accepted things that are part of an SDLC. There are no mention of common initiation or inception activities such as forming a team or identifying an initial scope or how the work will be funded.

Is SDLC a waterfall or Agile? ›

Agile and Waterfall are both Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) methodologies that have been widely adopted in the IT industry. The Waterfall framework was designed to enable a structured and deliberate process for developing high quality information systems within project scope.

What are the basics of SDLC? ›

The SDLC process involves several distinct stages, including planning, analysis, design, building, testing, deployment and maintenance.

What are the 4 types of life cycles? ›

Types of Life Cycles

An industry life cycle has four stages: expansion, peak, contraction, and trough. An analysis of a business or company can show the stage a company is in.

What is SDLC explain with diagram? ›

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a process used by the software industry to design, develop and test high quality softwares. The SDLC aims to produce a high-quality software that meets or exceeds customer expectations, reaches completion within times and cost estimates.

What are the 4 life cycles? ›

As mentioned above, there are four stages in a product's life cycle - introduction, growth, maturity, and decline – but before this a product needs to go through design, research and development.

What is SDLC advantages and disadvantages? ›

V-shaped SDLC Model
Every stage of V-shaped model has strict results so it's easy to controlLack of the flexibility
Testing and verification take place in the early stagesBad choice for the small projects
Good for the small projects, where requirements are static and clearRelatively big risks
4 Aug 2017

What is the most important step in SDLC? ›

The testing phase of the SDLC is one of the most important. It is impossible to deliver quality software without testing. There is a wide variety of testing necessary to measure quality: Code quality.

What is SDLC analysis? ›


The analysis phase also gathers business requirements and identifies any potential risks. This step in SDLC also includes a feasibility study, which defines all fortes and weak points of the project to assess the overall project viability.

What is an example of Agile? ›

Examples of Agile Methodology. The most popular and common examples are Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Crystal, and Lean Software Development (LSD).

What is Agile used for? ›

Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches. Instead of betting everything on a "big bang" launch, an agile team delivers work in small, but consumable, increments.

Why Agile is used? ›

The approach prioritizes quick delivery, adapting to change, and collaboration rather than top-down management and following a set plan. In Agile processes, there is constant feedback, allowing team members to adjust to challenges as they arise and stakeholders an opportunity to communicate consistently.

Which tool used for SDLC? ›

Today's most popular SDLC model is Agile SDLC, often paired with a proven project management methodology. Jira, Git, Confluence, Bamboo, Sourcetree, and Bitbucket are today's most popular software tools.

Is SDLC a skill? ›

For example, skills like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Software Project Management and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) are possible skills. These are skills you should try to include on your resume. Add industry skills like Integration and Scrum.

Which is better waterfall or Agile? ›

Waterfall is a better method when a project must meet strict regulations as it requires deliverables for each phase before proceeding to the next one. Alternatively, Agile is better suited for teams that plan on moving fast, experimenting with direction and don't know how the final project will look before they start.

What is 3 story point agile? ›

How many hours are three story points? Often teams map the story points to hours. For instance, two story points conform to a task that would consume 2-4 hours. Similarly, three-story points can be mapped for 4 to 8 hours long tasks.

What are the 5 important types of Agile methodology? ›

There are 5 main Agile methodologies: Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Lean Development e Crystal.

What are the 5 phases of a project with examples? ›

The project management life cycle has five main phases. These are project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring and control and project closure. Each of these stages will be examined in turn.

What are the 3 Agile frameworks? ›

What are examples of Agile frameworks? Scrum is the most common Agile framework. Others include the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Crystal, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD).

What is difference between scrum and Agile? ›

The key difference between Agile and Scrum is that while Agile is a project management philosophy that utilizes a core set of values or principles, Scrum is a specific Agile methodology that is used to facilitate a project.

What are 3 advantages to agile methods? ›

Agile produces important metrics like lead time, cycle time, and throughput that helps measure the team's performance, identify bottlenecks and make data-driven decisions to correct them. The Agile framework is a powerful tool that helps managers, team members, and clients.

What are the seven 7 stages of project cycle? ›

The new seven phases of SDLC include planning, analysis, design, development, testing, implementation, and maintenance.

What are the four 4 major parts of a project life cycle? ›

The project management lifecycle consists of four steps: initiating, planning, executing, and closing.

What are the 5 C's in project management? ›

The 5 Cs of managing projects, Complexity, Criticality, Compliance, Culture and Compassion, tell you how much and how often to do the things we do. There are five, they fit on your hand, and they go in order. The first three, complexity, criticality and compliance, are about the work, and that's where we begin.


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