Over the last decade, many organizations are progressively and expansively using agile processes for almost 30-80 percent of their development projects. They are creating productive agile teams, and breaking projects into short iterative development phases (sprints) enabling rapid minimal viable prototype designs and products.
With agile, development projects execution cycles therefore no longer need to take over 12 months. Approximately 3–6 months of strategic project execution is enough to deliver a quality software product. In addition to reducing development time and enabling faster software releases adopting agile is also helping companies keep up with increased competition, reduce costs, eradicate software defects, and improve quality. What is more, organizations that choose agile are over 85 percent more productive than those who do not, and the approach has been recognized by McKinsey, Harvard Business Review and the learning consortium as one of the best for software development.
Let’s get you started on the nitty-gritty of agile development and steps on how you can implement it for your software development project
Agile refers to a collection of software development approaches where requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative efforts of self-organizing and cross-functional teams working together with end users. Agile works on an iterative and incremental method from the initial to the last stage of building software and aims to discover what the customer wants from the word go. As such, it focuses on developing code that will match the exact user requirements through adaptive planning, evolutionary development, iterations, user feedback, continuous improvements and fast delivery.
Simply put, agile development procedures and solutions are brought on board by self-organizing teams that collaborate, discuss, and relentlessly strive to enhance their working progress to develop a user-oriented and quality end-product.
Unlike traditional software development methodologies, agile is not a command and control development method, it’s about empowerment and cross-functional collaboration. Shifting to agile from traditional development approaches is therefore not a walk in the park. The process entails over and above the learning of fresh buzzwords and techniques.
Companies that are looking to successfully achieve productivity through implementing agile thus need to incorporate changes that cut across all business functions. Such commitments may require new leadership, new skills, innovative processes, and technology investments.
Here are the 10 steps that you can follow to make agile implementation a success:
- Transform Operating Models
One of the first steps to take with agile is to invest in organizational culture changes and capacity building. Agile goes as far as requiring new project leadership, new values, new principles, and practices. If you choose agile, it will be vital to set project vision and procedures, understand and role-model new behaviors as well as set expectations. If need be, hunt for new talent to fill team gaps and invest in employee training. Additionally, you can think venture capitalists for project funding.
- Remodel IT Infrastructure
Agile requires a responsive and highly flexible underlying IT infrastructure. Outdated and monolithic system architectures make it difficult to change, test, and launch product capabilities and updates. In effect, the product suffers limited functionalities.
Contemporary IT architectures, on the other hand, will provide you with better tractability by unscrambling systems into smaller components that can handle new functionalities. For instance, a cloud-based infrastructure is always up to date and permits capacity auto-scaling to meet demands which makes it very easy to change, release, test and update functions self-sufficiently and as necessary as required. The result of fast changes, less code, re-usable components and reduced risks.
- Apply More than One Agile Methodology
To achieve a high-quality end product, apply more than one agile technique. For instance, you can combine both Scrum and XP. Both are powerful agile processes. They, therefore, share similar concepts of incremental and iterative planning and development, working prototypes, meetings and more. In particular, Scrum comprises a set of principles, practices, and procedures that work together to facilitate project completion. That said, Scrum doesn’t incorporate engineering practices which XP seems to focus on through the encouragement of test-driven coding, refactoring, pair programming and more. You can, therefore, combine the two; start with Scrum and adopt customized XP procedures along the way.
- Focus on Users
Conventional project teams only focus on developers and designers and ignore the most critical stakeholder – the end user. Agile methodology is not only a result focused, but it is also majorly people-oriented providing many opportunities for stakeholder and team engagement. From the word go, involve the end-users in the development process. A great usable application is not successful if it fails to satisfy the end user. Involving the user promotes increased collaboration in the project team enabling more opportunities to connect and understand the customer vision.
- Capture User Requirements Maximally
Like mentioned above, agile’s key principle is to include the end user in all development phases which enables the team to capture all the user requirements. Once you incorporate the user in the development stages, the next critical step is to ensure that the rest of the team rightly understands, prioritizes and verifies user needs and concerns.
- Use Development Accelerator Tools
Agile projects can be accelerated through the use of accelerator tools which act as foundational to help facilitate agile teams including CI/CD, infrastructure-on-demand, DevOps toolchains, API architectures and more. When you use such dedicated applications, you can quickly get a project from an idea or mere user requirements to a working prototype in much more less time than it takes when an accelerator tool is not applied.
- Start with Small Pilots and then Scale Up
The agile approach also centers on breaking down a huge project into easily manageable and controllable sub-projects. It is therefore critical that you start with the development of small incremental pilot releases followed by successive iterations, to help prove the value of the product you are developing to your customer and build support for the entire development process. When the pilot releases are successful, you can then scale up the project as far the scope goes.
- Focus on Frequent Product Delivery
Constant delivery is key for all agile methodologies. Focusing on an early and frequent delivery of working software releases will prove to stakeholders that your team can deliver the required application and also motivates them to go deeper and get committed to the project. Furthermore, early and frequent releases foster project visibility promotes continuous improvement and reduces project risks.
- Complete each Feature before Proceeding with the Next
To reduce the risk of bugs in the end product, it is crucial to ensure that necessary product features and components are fully built before embarking on succeeding ones. Many people in development teams often find themselves having gone far much ahead of themselves only to realize missing features and components in a working version. Thus, before moving ahead to step two, ensure step one is wholly complete.
- Test Early and Often
The testing phase including plays a very fundamental role in the software development lifecycle. Agile requires that you test your all your product releases as early and frequently and not just wait when the final product is built. Early testing early allows you to detect and debug errors as well as reduces risks. Testing also tells you whether you are on the right road so that if not, you can refocus.
Agile is a powerful software development approach that provides many benefits to project teams. By re-envisioning and reorganizing activities applied in custom software development such as positioning skilled teams, collaborations and a blend of the best techniques, agile teams are able to deal with many development pitfalls including scope, schedule predictability and cost in a more controlled and efficient manner. Thus, becoming an agile organization is an increasingly urgent necessity for enterprises in today’s modern digital economy.