The roles of Adaptive Software Development in Agile World

In the management world, there are several development tools to help teams produce more. And Adaptive Software Development (ASD) is one of them and has got a great role in team’s productivity.

This model focuses on human collaboration and team self-organization. Its main focus is on the problems of complex systems, for major developments. The method strongly encourages development with repetitions and constant prototyping.

As well as in agile methodologies, its operation is in cycles, and in each interaction, certain changes and even some errors will occur. This cycle provides continuous learning and adaptation to the emerging state of the project.

Based on the collaborative learning cycle, the ASD defines its lifecycle for projects, this makes the collaboration and learning cycles – which we will see further ahead, be filled with their respective practices.

In this article, you will understand the meaning of Adaptive Software Development and its main features to help teams develop more results within a certain time.

How did Adaptive Software Development start?

Adaptive software development (ASD) directly consequences another agile methodology, the rapid application development (RAD). Its goal is to enable teams to adapt more quickly and effectively to market needs, responding better to change.

Project managers John Highsmith and Sam Bayer are considered the creators of adaptive software development in the early 1990s. They designed ASD to be more continuous and faster than the agile RAD framework.

Highsmith and Bayer used their new project management approach to complete more than 100 commercial software of all kinds, through a strategy that used month-long periods with weekly iterations.

Like other agile methods, adaptive software development is used to make teams more adaptable to changing customer demands, requests, and market needs. It follows the principles of the Agile Manifesto.

The definition provided by the method’s creators is that ASD embodies the principle that the continual adaptation of the process to the work in question is the normal state of affairs.

The ADS Focus

Do it Wrong the First Time

Using a new objective, you will see that the current state of quality management software practices. In a complex environment, “do it for the first time” and a recipe for failure.

First of all, how can you predict what to do? In the first stages, if the delivery time horizon is not too wide, we may be able to speculate about it, the general direction is correct, but the definition of “correct” is fanciful. Even if we could define it correctly, doing it the first time does not make sense except in some trivial products.

The first time it is supposed to understand the cause and effect, the specific algorithm for finding the final product of our initial starting position, and the needs of all interested parties. Which means that you should know all of it.

Writers James Bach and Ed Yourdon have approached this question from a software perspective that is sufficiently good. One of Bach’s ideas has given rise to planting the question of the quality of multidimensionality, his set of the terminology of a reaction storm. “Sufficiently good” seems to indicate a position of compromise. Conforming to less than better.

The 3 Phases of the Adaptive Software Development

Adaptive software development, in general, focuses on the dynamics of team self-organization, interpersonal collaboration, and individual teamwork, as it is understood that software development teams with these characteristics have a greater chance of success.

Thus, we have a cycle that guarantees continuous learning and the necessary adaptation to the projects. It is divided into three stages, and they are speculation, collaboration, and learning. Let’s see each of them:


During this phase, the project is initiated and planning is conducted. The project plan uses initial information such as project requirements, customer and user needs, customer objectives, and so on. Thus, the number of cycles that the project needs is defined.

This is a complicated part of ASD and needs the motivation of workers. Teamwork and collaborative communication are highlighted, but without losing the aspect of individual creative thinking. People working together need to trust each other to:

Building constructive criticism together
work productively
Know and develop new skills
Communicate problems to find an effective solution.


Employees can often rely too heavily on their knowledge of the technology, and this sometimes may not yield the desired result. Learning helps workers increase their knowledge of the project.

This learning process can take place in three ways:

Focused working groups
technical analysis
Further analysis of project completion.


Collaboration helps a lot in the assessment of needs, specifications, etc. Therefore, there must be trust, constructive criticism, hard work, and promoting the communication of problems and attitudes that contribute to teamwork.

Adaptive Software Development’s main Features

There are five main features of adaptive software development:

  1. Focused on the mission. You can define goals to achieve, but you have the flexibility to adjust them as the project you develop.
  2. Risk-oriented. Adaptive software development comprises the notion that there are risks to completing the project.
  3. Component-oriented. You don’t define the development activities according to tasks but in the elaboration of the different functionalities of the software.
  4. Iterative. The agile development model proposed by ASD always adds new information and elements to each cycle.
  5. Change Tolerant. Changes that may arise during project development to incorporate. That is, the team adapts to them rather than trying to control them.

Roles and responsibilities

To implement adaptive software development, you have different roles and responsibilities, as you will see below:

  • Executive Sponsor: acts as a project sponsor, that is, manages and provides resources for development
  • Facilitator: leads and plans team meetings
  • Scribe: responsible for taking notes at meetings
  • Customer: must always be present
  • Project Manager: coordinates the development, and in addition, the Developers themselves.

Advantages of Adaptive Software Development

There are several benefits to adaptive software development.

  • The greater overall quality of the final product
  • Improved transparency between developers and consumers
  • Use in projects that need constant monitoring and evaluation from customers
  • Flexibility in adapting planning at any stage of the project
  • Focus on the user, which generates more intuitive software
  • Greater likelihood of on-time delivery thanks to three-step iterative cycles that allow for the identification and resolution of potential issues
  • Learning from mistakes and teamwork, generating a more refined software.

However, there is no such thing as a perfect agile methodology. Now you’ll see some disadvantages that ASD has:

  • Various tests that can lead to higher project costs
  • Requirement for a high degree of user involvement, which can be difficult to provide
  • Emphasis on repetitions that can cause fatigue
  • Better functioning with teams that can focus on just a single project
  • Difficulty in implementing adaptive software development in high-risk projects

Is it worth using ASD?

Thus, this is a model that brings excellent results in workgroups, as it encourages communication from everyone involved. It is very suitable for projects with constant change and in environments that need to implement projects that are critical to the business, in addition to being a good tool for teams working with high-risk projects.

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