Two decades ago, the software development world was raving about the traditional software development methodology. It was simple and the process was sequential and linear.
While it worked for projects that happen in one sequence, it didn’t work for large projects.
The drawbacks of traditional software development were many. It was snail-paced, lacked customer-centricity, no presence of central authority, time management issues, dearth of coordination and the list is endless.
The answer to the problem came in the form of Agile Methodology. In 2001, a group of 17 developers came up with the Agile Manifesto, the holy book of Agile Methodology.
The four major principles are now the agile commandments-
- Individuals and interactions come first before tools and processes
- Working software is more important than documentation
- Customer satisfaction supersedes contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
This prologue should set the conversation to discuss the role of Agile Methodology in reducing risks and improving software performance.
Benefits of Agile Methodology
The benefits of Agile methodology have raving fans when it comes to managing projects-
1. Exceptional Quality product
Testing is given utmost precedence in the project execution phase which ensures the outcome is of exceptional quality. The client is an active participant in the development process and can request changes as necessary. Agile is based on iterations. Independent teams who are self-organized can learn and grow from failures.
2. Greater Customer Satisfaction
The core focus of Agile is the customer. They partake in the decision-making process leading to maximized customer retention.
The orthodox framework has the customer only involved in the planning stage. They are left out in the execution and this adversely affects the flexibility and adaptability.
Since the customer is part of the conversation, all changes asked by the customer are made. This ensures that customers are getting value and the final product has the approval of the customer.
Another added benefit is that the go-to-market time is reduced. This provides a first mover advantage.
3. Greater control
The Agile methodology enables managers to have greater control due to transparency, feedback assimilation, and quality control features. Quality will remain the focal point of the implementation stage.
All stakeholders are kept informed through daily progress reports through sophisticated reporting tools.
4. Strengthened project predictability
The Agile methodology offers organizations hawk eye visibility. Additionally forecasting risks and risk minimization plans becomes easy.
The greatest benefit of Agile is that it provides numerous ways to identify and forecast risks so that the project runs smoothly devoid of any obstacles.
5. Incessant improvement
Ceaseless improvement is one of the prime principles of the Agile manifesto. The Agile methodology is based on iterations where every sprint is better than the last one. This means that mistakes of the past will teach lessons for the future.
Seamless collaboration and exchange of ideas create a learning culture paving way for healthy interpersonal relationships.
6. Uses important metrics
Agile methodology scores over the Waterfall methodology because of relevant metrics.
The Agile methodology uses metrics like lead time, cycle time, development cycle, agile maturity, business value, and customer satisfaction rate.
5 Risks to look out for in Software Development
The Software Development process is a turbulent sea that has its perils aka risks. The risks aren’t one or two but many. The risks that are commonly known are Budget risk, Schedule Risk, Operational risks, Technical risks, and Programmatic Risks.
Let’s go through each of them in detail-
1. Budget Risk
Budget risks are monetary risks that occur to budget overruns. If the finances are mismanaged, there are chances of budget risk. Hence, transparent management of funds is necessary, or else the project might be doomed.
Some of the common reasons for budget risks-
- Wrong Budget estimation
- Unanticipated Project Scope expansion
- Wrongful budget handling
- Exceed in costs
- Improper monitoring of budget
2. Schedule Risk
Schedule Risks are time-related risks or project delivery-related planning risks. Wrong schedule and timeline affect the outcome of the project.
If deliverables aren’t submitted on time, then the project is a failure. The failure of a project due to mismanagement of schedule brings a bad reputation to the company.
Common reasons for schedule risks are-
- The Timeline is not approximated correctly
- Incorrect resource earmarking
- Monitoring of resources like system, skill, staff, and the like
- Regular project scope expansion
- Failure in function identification and its completion
3. Operational risks
Operational risks are the day-to-day risks that are part of the daily operations. These risks occur during project development or due to the wrong implementation.
Few reasons for operational risks include-
- Lack of resources
- Dispute between tasks and employees
- Unsuitable management of tasks
- Improper planning of the project
- Fewer skilled people
- Absence of cooperation and communication
- A Dearth of clarity in roles and responsibilities
- Inadequate training
4. Technical Risks
Technical risks refer to the functional risks or performance risks of the product.
Some of the reasons for technical risks are-
- Recurring changes in requirements
- Minimum use of advanced technologies
- Scare number of skilled employees
- Extreme convolution in implementation
- Unacceptable assimilation of modules
5. Programmatic Risks
Programmatic risks are unavoidable and external risks that one has no control over.
- The speedy development of the market
- Shortage of funds or limited funds
- Changes in government regulations and policy
- Loss of contracts to unknown reasons
All of these risks can be mitigated by implementing the Agile methodology. For every problem or risk, Agile methodology has the solution.
Hacks to amplify your software performance
Adopting the Agile Methodology means the work is only half done. There are still improvements to be made to improve the performance of your software.
Here are 6 hacks to help you amplify your software performance-
1. Apply Test Driven Development(TDD)
Test-Driven Development is a software development depending on software requirements being changed to test cases before the software is developed. The software development is tracked by consistently testing the software against the test cases.
It might have some cons but the pros outweigh the former. Here are the reasons why TDD is the best way forward-
- It is quicker as the quality of code is written is better
- Encourages the creation of optimized code
- Guides developers to analyze clearly and understand the client requirements through 360º view. They can clarify any items that are not clearly defined.
- The inclusion and testing of new features will become easy in the advanced stages of development.
- Increases the productivity of the developer and begins the development of a codebase that is flexible and easy to maintain.
2. Reinvigorate your Scrum values
Revisiting the Scrum Values will help set the path to building software products that deliver exceptional performance.
Here are the Scrum values that should be your code of conduct-
Every member of the team should be committed and invest his time and energy to build a great product.
Team members should display courage and take charge. They should follow the best practices, take actions that are in the best interest of the product and team. Every individual should take the mantle and solve difficult problems.
Every team member should focus on the team goal. They should have a hawk eye-focus and should not divert their attention that isn’t a team goal.
The agile culture is such that collaboration is a value that is propagated. So, a free flow of communication between members ensures work progress reports, challenges faced and other hurdles they come across.
Small teams are driven by work ethics and commitment. They function as a unit due to respect.
3. Refine your backlog process
The backlog is often neglected when teams are in pursuit of solidifying the agile process.
The Product backlog is a list of things that are scheduled to be done. The backlog serves as a to-do list for the team. The backlog is prepared according to the requirements of the job and the roadmap.
The Product Owner is in charge of the backlog. The onus to regularly check and update to improve the agile software development process rests with them.
It connects the Professional Product owner to the development team so that there is a feedback loop created. It can then be assessed and added to new items as per needs.
The Agile methodology still bears sacred relevance in today’s world. The benefits such as superior product quality, short turnaround time, greater control, and quality metrics are worth the investment.
Be sure to factor in the risks like budget risks, operational risks, schedule risks, technical risks, and programmatic risks.
If you want to know more about the agile process and the different frameworks, then we are a call away.
Naveen Kumar Singh is an Agile Coach and a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), facilitates Scrum Master Training, Scrum Developer, Product Owner, Agile, Kanban, and LeSS Practitioners as well as provides agile technical workshops. Naveen is active in the agile community and participates in major events as a speaker and volunteer. He has also presented papers in Global Scrum Gatherings as well as in many other Scrum Alliance conferences and meet-ups.