What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Software Engineering?

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Agile Software Engineering?

One mooted solution to project management issues is Agile Software Engineering. Agile software engineering was devised, in the early 1990's, as a counter to the then-prevalent preference for huge, carefully-planned and expertly orchestrated grand projects. As Alistair Cockburn has noted, "the 1990's saw some of the most bloated, over-organised attempts at problem-solving imaginable, whereas agile software engineering came in like a breath of fresh air and proclaimed that the era of the individual was back" (Cockburn, 2001). While the old system was believed to deliver nothing more than bureaucracy, inconsistency and ineffectiveness, agile software engineering was seen as a new way of offering software engineers the chance to work on a series of steps, making their own decisions and working with others as and when they saw fit. Eventually, in 2001, the proponents of the new, more agile methods of software engineering met and issues an Agile Manifesto, which laid out the new principles that they believed should govern software engineering.

The agile software engineering movement had a number of key aims: rapid response to change was favoured over just following a plan; working with customers was favoured over simple contract negotiation; working software was favoured over partially-working software with complex documentation; and finally, individualism was favoured over the use of individuals as simple steps in a process. Also, agile software engineering sought to ensure the continued and rapid delivery of changes and new ideas would impress upon the customer that the engineers were able to react to constantly changing situations. Meanwhile, it was also considered important to allow for constant changes, including changes at the very last minute, just as the product was ready to be unveiled. Finally, it was felt that the process had become almost more important than the outcome, so agile software engineering favoured the production of working software, which it saw as the principal measure of progress (in terms of regular deliveries of beta versions), rather than long-term targets.

As the landscape surrounding such issues is constantly changing, so too are the project management issues. Consequently, there must be a process of continual reassessment in order to ensure that opportunities created by new developments are not missed. While Brooks' assertion that there is no silver bullet in this area has been proved to be true in the past, it is nevertheless the case that software and hardware have developed massively, and in unpredictable ways, in the thirty years since his book was published. The idea of a silver bullet, meanwhile, may be somewhat misleading; although the phrase implies a single action that can solve a multitude of problems, it might better be described as a way of thinking that, consistently and logically applied, can result in a new way of working that avoids a number of common problems.

Agile software engineering was devised, in the early 1990's, as a counter to the then-prevalent preference for huge, carefully-planned and expertly orchestrated grand projects. As Alistair Cockburn has noted, "the 1990's saw some of the most bloated, over-organised attempts at problem-solving imaginable, whereas agile software engineering came in like a breath of fresh air and proclaimed that the era of the individual was back" (Cockburn, 2001). While the old system was believed to deliver nothing more than bureaucracy, inconsistency and ineffectiveness, agile software engineering was seen as a new way of offering software engineers the chance to work on a series of steps, making their own decisions and working with others as and when they saw fit. Eventually, in 2001, the proponents of the new, more agile methods of software engineering met and issues an Agile Manifesto, which laid out the new principles that they believed should govern...
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