Do you think that your organization is ready to embrace an agile software development process from the traditional approach? Before making the move, comprehend the core of the process to make the transition smooth enough.
The Agile Development Approach
Agile development is not a methodology in itself. It is an umbrella term that touches upon several agile methodologies including Scrum, XP, Crystal, FDD, and DSDM. Lean practices have emerged as part of the agile methodology too.
With Agile Development Process, you are bound to give value to:
- Varied Individuals and interactions rather than overarching processes and tools
- Working software over detailed documentation
- Consistent customer collaboration over negotiation plans
- Change Response rather than Plan Alignment
Why opt for Agile Development Methodology Over Waterfall Model?
The principles of agile software development were devised to break the problems faced due to process inflation while focusing on very simple techniques for meeting the goals. Delivering the highest possible value to customers now gets top priority rather than adherence to plan.
The key in Agile technique is the thoughtful convergence of five sequences of conventional software development method which is termed the Waterfall model in a one-week cycle. This system relies on repeated cycles based on iterations in small incremental portions thus allowing developers to get their code tested and reviewed right during the development process itself. The Agile Development Methodology delivers increased speed, lower costs, and utmost flexibility if done right.
- The Waterfall model is a linear model of software design that employs a sequential process wherein development flows sequentially from initiation to deployment comprising of several different stages.
- The Agile method on the other hand combines both the incremental and iterative approach to allay the limitations of Waterfall model and give designers more freedom than before.
- The design process is disintegrated into individual models and there is no set course of action or plan so that changes are made whenever issues arise.
SCRUM, Crystal, Test-Driven Development (TDD), Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Extreme Programming (XP), and even the latest Adaptive Software Development (ADP) are part of the agile methodology wherein teams have tuned their own flavor of agility depending on their needs. The combination of SCRUM and XP has been adapted by many, as SCRUM practices are used to manage teams that use Extreme Programming.
Top tips that can stand you in good stead while embracing Agile development approach:
- Begin the transitions with a perfect and accurate readiness assessment keeping in view the organization and its people. Check out for traditional roadblocks related to the software development cycle and collaborate with the IT professionals to devise better ways to implement the methodology. Walk before you run is the best approach.
- Educating the naysayers about the benefits of the agile development process is very useful. Most critics come out of the woodwork when they are themselves unsure about the reasons of the success as well as the efficacy of the transition. A pilot project can help dispel the myths and convey the same to those who were not actively part of the transition.
- Business priorities come first, the planned process comes later in the agile methodology. This approach helps in convincing the non-tech executives to implement a collaborative process as part of the business strategy. Every concern is primarily focused about business priorities first.
- Engagement of the entire organization is crucial to the success of the agile development process. Even the customers and subject matter experts need to be in the loop. The technical writers should understand the benefits of the approach and then get to document it perfectly. Dispelling fears about the process goes a long way for the organization.
- Pick an important project for working through the agile process. If a complex project is taken care of, it will be easier to try the same approach for the other projects too.
- Handle resource scalability problems with the agile process in terms of assigned engineers to the project, with help from e-learning and by way of knowledge transfer.
- Gather metrics to ensure that the approach is taken up in a planned manner. With metrics, one can convince people with documented evidence that the agile approach will help in boosting productivity in more ways than one. For example, one can resort to sprint burn down charts wherein scrum teams organize the development process in time-boxed sprints keeping a track of completed work based on time-bound forecasts. Other metrics include epic and release burn down (works with larger body of projects) and Velocity charts (average amount of work completed in a sprint by the scrum team).
- For better success with the agile approach, it is important to fail fast. You need to gauge the overall problems quickly before any major problem delivers impediments along the way. It is just not about attitude shift but a way to learn how not to go about the development process.
A good agile team picks technical practices and resources that work best for them. When trying to adopt Agile practices, many will impede the process as to why it won’t work. But for those who understand its real benefits and are keen of the transition, will in all likelihood achieve success.