Agile development provides opportunities to assess the direction throughout the development lifecycle. This is achieved through regular cadences of work, known as Sprints or iterations, at the end of which teams must present a potentially shippable product increment. By focusing on the repetition of abbreviated work cycles as well as the functional product they yield, agile methodology is described as “iterative” and “incremental.” In waterfall, development teams only have one chance to get each aspect of a project right. In an agile paradigm, every aspect of development — requirements, design, etc. — is continually revisited. When a team stops and re-evaluates the direction of a project every two weeks, there’s time to steer it in another direction.
This “inspect-and-adapt” approach to development greatly reduces development costs and time to market. Because teams can develop software at the same time they’re gathering requirements, “analysis paralysis” is less likely to impede a team from making progress. And because a team’s work cycle is limited to two weeks, stakeholders have recurring opportunities to calibrate releases for success in the real world. Agile development helps companies build the right product. Instead of committing to market a piece of software that hasn’t been written yet, agile empowers teams to continuously replan their release to optimize its value throughout development, allowing them to be as competitive as possible in the marketplace. Agile development preserves a product’s critical market relevance and ensures a team’s work doesn’t wind up on a shelf, never released.