Software development using agile methodology has been widely advocated as the best. It is synonymous with a faster and leaner process that lets teams achieve results sooner and at a higher frequency.
This trend however seems to have stuck only with smaller organizations and startups. Enterprises are still skeptical about adopting and doing justice to the manifesto guidelines. At most, they let smaller software development teams to adopt Agile methods and that’s where it stops. Experts reveal that enterprises are convinced that working with Agile is only beneficial for smaller teams because of their horizontal hierarchy and constant dialog with clients. These are practically unheard of with larger enterprises.
And also there are doubts about the scalability of Scrum. While this is true to some extent, it is not completely true. Enterprises can, by all means merge the benefits of agile development with other enterprise functions and scale the approach for the organization’s advantage. Misconceptions about new technology is always a given. With Agile too, misconceptions and apprehensions are widespread in the industry leading to underutilization of a disruptive methodology like Agile.
Challenges in adopting Agile
Love for documentation: Many professionals have the wrong notion that software development is effective only when it is based on producing comprehensive and detailed requirement and design documents. In contrast to this school of thought, Agile methods focus on code development over creating heavy duty documentation. There is a need to educate people about the agile approach to documentation and adopting the ‘document as needed’ method.
Limited skills: After years of developing software using limited methods results in people who are experts in certain technology while lacking in other methods. For instance, project managers without an understanding of the underlying technologies used by their teams, programmers with no analysis and design modelling skills cannot be effective in delivering high quality software. To solve this problem professionals should train to become generalizing specialists so that they have specialized skills in one or more areas as well as basic understanding of the technical and business aspects of software development.
Closed mindedness: Some software professionals do not believe in investing time and energy to learn about upcoming and promising methodologies. These people can be broadly segregated as; people who perceive agile methods as simple code-and-fix in disguise, and others who have adopted an anti-agile attitude. It is vital to actively educate these people about the advantages of agile methodologies. Such an attitude restricts the optimization of Agile technology thus rendering software development at the mercy of age old methods. A straight way of dealing with such people can be by teaching new approaches to new technology. This would allow smooth introduction of agile practices.
Linear thinking: Many IT professionals have become accustomed to typical approaches which makes them unreceptive to new and evolutionary approaches. This can be attributed to the fact that the past 40 years have been dominated by software development methodologies using serial approaches. Such workers want to identify the complete requirements first, then design the system, and only after that start coding. Such people need to be given appropriate training, enough time, and targeted mentoring to learn the principles of agile development. At the same time, one should be vigilant to make sure that the serial mind-set does not hamper introduction and sustenance of agile practices in the enterprise.
Adopting Agile enterprise-wide
To deliver the best results using Agile it is essential to understand how it impacts the enterprise. Agile affects the working of a system from its roots. It is important for a business to understand the changes that would be expected.
With Agile’s recent rise in popularity, organizational integration of its methodologies is already becoming more common. The question remains: How can enterprises make the move as smooth and secure as possible? Approaches for enterprise level adoption of Agile can be broadly classified as- Top-down and Bottom-up. In the former approach, Agile is initiated by senior management and the latter involves developers and testers manning the process. Agile software development practices entail a major cultural trimming for an enterprise which calls for a coordinated change throughout the enterprise, not just at the top or bottom. For a seamless transition, one must consider strategies that involves participation from the developers, testers and leadership in an effectively collaborative discipline.
Best practices for a smooth Agile development process-
Agile methodologies are emerging as the key to flexible, responsive software engineering. However, this approach – which emphasizes face-to-face communication and close interaction between teams – isn’t envisioned as a reality in large enterprises. This can be negated by adopting and adhering to some basic principles that work for your organization.
A diligent indoctrination of Agile principles in your regular engagement and delivery models will help you get the best possible results from your teams-
- An iterative development approach with short sprints of 2-4 weeks
- Frequent builds and continuous integration
- Daily standup meetings and weekly or bi-weekly engineering meetings
- Effective use of tools for Agile project management, issue tracking, build and test automation
- Strong documentation and code commenting
- Test driven development, if applicable
Some Scrum Best Practices
- Well-defined product backlog
- Sprint planning meetings
- Effective daily scrums
- Optimal communication with questions & concerns raised early in the sprint
- Improvements with each sprint review
- Leadership elements internally and externally within teams
Choose the right Agile partner
Scaling Agile is not an impossible task. With a well laid out strategy and workflow you can introduce employees to the Agile work culture. Agile software development delivers ROI once you have effectively and steadily on boarded employees on to the program. However, if this is the first time that you’re working with agile, then it is essential to work with an expert. Consider working with service providers having Agile expertise. Some things that you must expect from such service providers include:
- Assured high-quality delivery: Consider high quality results from experienced and specialist engineers.
- Integrated cohesive Interactions: A smart agile worker values continuous innovation and constant interaction with client, project leaders, and team members for contact revaluation of the process
- Faster results, responsive to change: Expect a responsive and highly dynamic team when you are working with a vendor
- Personalized delivery: Unlike startups, Agility across an enterprise requires more detailed and panned out structure. Does your vendor understand you? Are they focusing on scaling agile on a constant basis?
Often large enterprises find it feasible to work closely with companies adept at Agile or DevOps work culture. Doing so gives them the much needed gradual exposure to the new culture without disturbing their own.