What is an iteration?

An iteration in agile software development is a single development cycle over a specified period, usually one to two weeks. An iteration can also be defined as the time elapsed between iteration planning sessions.

An iteration involves breaking down the development plan into smaller working units in software development. The smaller bits are developed, implemented, and tested, stage by stage, a process known as incremental development.

Instead of working on a project from start to finish, when it has already spent time and resources, incremental development helps to avail early feedback so that product developers can effect changes as early as possible.

The software team and other stakeholders will review each iteration and provide insights to determine the subsequent development steps. Sequence diagrams and data models are usually used to mark out iterations. They keep track of what has been tested, approved, or rejected in a report that serves as the final product blueprint.

What is Incremental Development?

Incremental development involves breaking down the development plan into smaller workable bits. These smaller bits are then developed, analyzed, implemented, and tested, each one at a time. Feedback is received fast from the users and the development team and acted upon early.

The development team appreciates the incremental process because it saves time in the long run and allows for testing the project more frequently. Additionally, it will enable the team to iterate on the project before investing further into coding on something that will not succeed eventually.

It enables the team to get more productive by identifying the issue and fixing it as soon it is identified. Also, frequent testing allows the team more flexibility with arising problems. Late discovery of the potential issues can throw the entire project off, so iteration helps the team adjust their plans accordingly.

Applying Iterative Development

The iterative model involves the following steps:

●        Planning

●        Designing

●        Implementing

●        Testing

●        Evaluating

The model requires the team to make progress by repetition, which refines the software to meet the objective. The iterative goal is to improve the product bit by bit rather than create a functional element.

The model makes the versioning easy and fast during development. The team can revert the older iteration easily and quickly. Iterative models are time-saving since they utilize smaller and customizable timeframes according to the needs of the agile project and the team.

Stages of Incremental and Iterative Product Development

1. The Beginning Stage involves a critical look at the scope of the whole project, the possible risks, and both the tangible and intangible requirements.

2. The Elaboration Stage includes assuming the risks identified at the inception stage and working on the architecture that meets non-functional requirements.

3. The Construction Phase applies the infrastructure you formulated to the finished code that has passed the iterative model.

4. The Transition Phase – the final product is pushed to production.


In software development, both the iterative and the incremental processes are helpful. One fills in the gap that another creates, and the result is a reflective and objective product.


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