Within each iteration, stakeholders will shape the direction of the increment for the scope of the iteration. In between iterations, more significant (and less disruptive) adjustments to the scope of the project are possible and often welcome. Stakeholders who are not involved in the progress of the project on a day-to-day basis are required to take part between iterations. That way, the development team also gets important feedback from peripheral stakeholders and can meet their expectations as well. According to authors Gause and Weinberg, this is also called the “Yes, but…” syndrome. Whatever follows the “but…” are changes in the direction of refining the project. The shorter the cycles between the input and the feedback from stakeholders the better. That is one of the motivations to keep the iterations very short.

Besides being able to better manage expectations, the customers and the project team also benefit from iterative-incremental development in many different ways. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing, iteration by iteration, that the team did a good job. Even if they did not, negative feedback allows the team to rectify things in the next iteration or even within the current one. In contrast, in the traditional approach, the verdict comes in so late that the project team cannot take corrective actions. Iterative-incremental development also overcomes requirements paralysis and the issue of ending up with too few requirements. It might sound surprising, but agile, in some respects, introduces more discipline into the process than other project methodologies – such as the discipline to deliver working software in twoweek increments. What customer does not like that?

Other advantages of iterative-incremental development include the following:

  • The highest risks can be reduced or eliminated in early iterations.

  • Confidence in planning and estimation increases iteration by iteration.

  • Based on past iterations, trends for a completion date can be determined.

  • Completed means completed, not 90 percent done.

  • Morale is increased through constant feedback.

Iterative-incremental development is a tremendous change to the traditional development processes currently in place in most organizations. However, this degree of change is worth undertaking, as it immediately provides invaluable benefits.

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