While there are an almost unlimited number of reasons as to why Agile is the preferred method for software development (in lieu of traditional “waterfall” methods), here are some of the most compelling:
Increased visibility across the board
One of the pitfalls of early software development methods was their inability to allow cross-functionality. Often times, solutions to problems don’t uniformly come from the group / department / team that are tasked with working on that specific related area. If someone working in a different area can provide a solution, they need to be able to easily do so. This only increases the potential profits and effectiveness of the entire organization; but this type of synergy cannot occur without increasingly higher levels of visibility (which agile can provide).
Change is inevitable; this is especially true where software development is concerned. The older traditional software development method sought to establish all the core ideas, goals, and directions at the initial stage. The problem is that this approach doesn’t account for problems that might emerge, or the changing goals / desires of the customer. As you might imagine, trying to initiate change at a late developmental stage is very expensive; luckily, Agile allows issues to be dealt with in an incremental fashion so that problems are dealt with early on.
Adds business-related value
Those involved in business usually don’t understand what’s involved in software development, nor do they care how it works; they simply want to know that a quality product that does what it is supposed to is on the way (and when it can be expected). Through the implementation of Agile methods, time tables and deadlines are easily managed. Likewise, business leaders tend to rest easier knowing that there is a quality methodology in place which is capable of producing real results, which can also be routinely monitored.
In keeping in line with adding business value, Agile is also a hedge against big and small risks. Most risks in software development are associated with either missed deadlines or inappropriate use of budgetary funds. For example, if a project takes too long to develop, a customer might decide to terminate, or if the team goes over-budget it might end up making next to nothing in terms of profit for that particular project.