Adaptive Software Development

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Adaptive Software Development (ASD) is a plain product of the early elegant framework known as Rapid Application Development (RAD). Its purpose is to enable teams to quickly and effectively adapt to changing needs or market demands, and develop their products through lightweight initiatives and continuous learning. ASD argues that when it comes to complex software projects, the right way to succeed is to keep learning while not sticking to rigid plans.

By their nature, adaptive software development works best when an organization can adequately prioritize rapid product delivery. ASD was developed in recognition of its origins — the Rapid Application Development (RAD) was outdated due to its mechanical and highly linear approach.

Adaptive Software Development

ASD makes teams more adaptable to changing customer needs, requirements, and market requirements like other agile methods. Specifically, ASD is achieved through a three-stage process that promotes lightweight planning and continuous learning: Speculation, collaboration, and learning. As an agile software development framework, ASD pays particular attention to user feedback and collaboration to inform future iterations of the software development process.

The framework has three development lifecycle phases:

  • Speculation
  • Collaboration
  • Learning

1. Speculate

The term plan is too specific, indicating a high degree of certainty about the expected outcome. Implicit and explicit, plan-aligned goals limit managers’ ability to steer projects in the direction of innovation.

In adaptive software development, the word plan is replaced by the word guess. While speculating, the team did not abandon the plan, acknowledging the reality of uncertainty in complex problems. Speculation encourages exploration and experimentation. We encourage short-term iterations.

2. Collaboration

Complex applications are not built up, but developed. Complex applications must collect, analyze and apply much information to solve this problem. Volatile environments have high information flow rates. Therefore, complex applications require a large amount of data to be collected, analyzed, and applied to the problem. It leads to diverse knowledge requirements that can only be addressed through teamwork.

The collaboration will require joint efforts to produce results, share knowledge or make decisions.

3. Learning

The Learning section of the life cycle is critical to the project’s success. Teams must constantly enhance their knowledge, using methods that include:

  • Technical review
  • Project Review
  • Customer focus groups

Adaptive Software Development Framework

The ASD framework comprises enough guidelines to create order in complex software development systems without the risk of suffocation, explicitly encouraging the use of emergence as a substitute for what is decisive.

ASD is a results-oriented framework that emphasizes the quality of results rather than the tasks performed to achieve them.

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How Does It Work?

In ASD, like most agile methodologies, work is done periodically or iteratively. During these cycles, developers create new components and make necessary modifications to existing components.

A key difference between adaptive software development and other methodologies is that in ASD, cycles are component-based rather than task-based. For example, teams using different methodologies typically break down user stories into more granular tasks assigned to developers to implement. In ASD, the focus is always on the desired results. It defines components as a set of functions that are planned, implemented, and delivered together.

Benefits of Adaptive Software Development

The ASD approach has several benefits. These benefits include:

  • Better, more robust overall end products.
  • Increase transparency between developers and customers.
  • The user-first approach leads to more intuitive software work.
  • Delivery is more likely to occur on time (or early), thanks to a repeated three-step process that allows potential problems to be identified and resolved sooner.


If an organization prioritizes rapid product delivery and sees value in continually developing a product, adaptive software development can be a viable approach. However, if the company does not believe that it is possible to ensure deep user engagement, or if the product manager does not want to add expensive continuous testing throughout development, this may not be the agile framework for the company.

Adaptive Software Development
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