As software forms the basis of every application today, developers across the world seek methodologies that can enable them to develop software in a quick and efficient manner.
With changes in requirements happening so frequently, Agile is probably the best way to cater to the changes, in the quickest time, and with minimum risk and costs. Agile is enabling teams of various sizes to build projects in sprints and accommodate changes and enhancements – for the most favorable outcome.
Why Agile projects fail
Despite the advantages, many Agile projects that fail. Here are some of the most common reasons why Agile projects fail:
- Culture: As more and more changes get introduced into the software development process, teams reach a point where there is no motivation to work. Agile is more of a culture, and less of a process, so if the company philosophy or culture does not align with core agile values, the result is bound to be a failed project.
- Communication: For Agile to really work, there needs to be instant, and regular communication between the team members. People cannot keep waiting to hear from each other. Lack of communication is one of the major reasons why agile projects fail. If teams do not have a clear understanding of the tasks and project progress, they will not know what tasks to carry out, and what steps to take.
- Experience: Success with Agile comes only to those who truly understand the concept. Lack of Agile experience, and poor know-how of how to think, what to do, and how to implement the concepts can cause the project to plummet. Teams that are incapable of applying basic agile practices tend to run into trouble.
- Leadership support: The move towards an Agile mindset does not happen overnight. Everybody in the organization has to embrace the concepts, and if there is no leadership support, it is sure to cause failure. If your leadership is not ready to let go of control and move to a balanced approach to decision-making, you stand the risk of not meeting your Agile goals.
- Resistance: Plain resistance or unwillingness to embrace Agile is also a common cause of failure. When teams, who are comfortable working with more traditional methods of software development, are asked to move out of their comfort zone, there is going to be resistance.
How to maximize the power of Agile?
Given the various benefits of adopting Agile methodology for application development, it’s important you start on the right foot.
Agile is not just about processes; first and foremost, it’s about the people who bring it to life. Authentic human interactions are far more important to Agile than rigid processes. Collaborating with customers and teammates is more important than pre-defined activities. And delivering a working solution to every customer more important than exhaustive documentation.
Having said that, here’s how you can unlock the power of Agile:
Culture of collaboration
An Agile team unites under a shared vision and works together with a shared set of standards for quality, usability, and completeness to realize that vision. To experience success with Agile, you need to drive efforts towards building a culture of collaboration:
- Shared responsibility: Ensure that the responsibility is shared. Bid adieu to rigid hierarchies and process, and make way for shared responsibility. Get the support of your management, and enable your executive leaders to model the behavior they want their management team to display, live the values they want them to adopt, and help them understand how they work for your organization.
- Cross-pollination of teams: In the Agile world, no one team is responsible for the success of the project. It is a combination of the individual skills and efforts of various people across various teams that truly make a difference. Through cross-pollination of teams, you can ensure people with diverse skill sets come together, and allow their knowledge and skills to influence each other to drive new ideas and new ways of thinking.
- Transparency: Transparency is a core value of successful Agile teams. It is through transparency that you can ensure trust from customers, between team members, and towards the organization. Transparency is also important for boosting team morale and ensuring that everyone works towards the same goals. Make sure teams have access to charts that reflect how they are performing, what are the pitfalls, and what tasks need to be done on priority.
- Communication: Although communication is crucial for the success of any project, in Agile, it holds far greater importance. In agile, it is those regular, on-time, and frequent conversations that matter. Start by making sure your management communicates the benefits and need for Agile adoption. Next, enable business people and developers to communicate daily throughout the project – so they are both on the same page, and know what needs to be done next.
Use the right practices
Agile is not just about constant communication and collaboration, but also about using the right practices. Once communication is in place, it's time to focus on the right Agile practices:
- Quick iterations: Given that Agile is a time-boxed, iterative approach to application delivery, it is important to develop applications in quick iterations. Quick iterations ensure changes and feedback are incorporated quickly, improve the quality of deliverables, and reduce wastage and costs.
- Shift left: Test early, test often. Another important practice to incorporate in your Agile methodology is shift left testing. Instead of testing the software at the end, it makes total sense to start testing the working product earlier in the life cycle. This not only helps identify issues earlier but also limits the cost of workarounds or modifications that have to be made for better software quality.
- Automated testing: With so many features and modifications getting added and delivered in every sprint, it is important to make sure that the newly added feature is not impacting the working of the existing product. In addition to testing early and often, the use of automated testing can ensure you can bring a high-quality product to the market sooner.
- Continuous integration: As software is built in small sprints, continuous integration can ensure that the efforts of individual developers are integrated into a central repository. By making the process of integration simple and frequent, CI aims to identify conflicts earlier and make them easier and less costly to solve.
- Change management: Since the quick response to change is an essential requirement for Agile success, change management can streamline the process of introducing changes into software code – without affecting the quality or pace of development.
- Efficiency => Effectiveness: A critical concept of Agile is to produce software in sprints such that there is no wastage. When you can produce results with little wasted effort, you are sure to deliver a product that is useful to your users. Regular communication and frequent feedback loops ensure you produce the right product every time, thereby improving the effectiveness of your efforts.
In addition to building the right culture, and using the right practices, Agile is also about embracing the right tools. Agile projects are extremely fast-moving and with the right tools, you can achieve a lot more flexibility and adaptivity needed to build quality products and keep your projects well-aligned with your business objectives.
Here are some tools that can help you realize your Agile dreams faster:
- Jira: A tool that supports any Agile methodology, Jira offers a variety of boards and reports that help you plan, track and manage your agile software development projects from a single tool. Choose from a range of frameworks, enjoy version management, backlog grooming, and sprint planning, and witness your team release higher quality software, faster.
- Confluence: Since building requirements is a critical aspect of any Agile project, Confluence tool can enable you to leverage ready-to-go requirements blueprint for seamlessly gathering requirements from the team. Using the collaborative editor, you can negotiate deals with stakeholders, keep up with decisions, and store meeting notes.
- Bamboo: Given the fact that changes and feedback have to be incorporated continuously in Agile, Bamboo tool is a great choice for continuous integration, deployment and delivery. Using Bamboo, you can integrate automated builds, tests, and releases in a single workflow, and watch how they get updated across all entire Agile lifecycle.
- Bitbucket: With Bitbucket, teams can define branching strategies, collaborate on code, and deploy. It allows efficient approval of code review. With its built-in continuous delivery (for Cloud), it allows for continuous deployment. The permission-based access control helps in maintaining the quality of the code.
Make the most of Agile
The Agile methodology was introduced as a replacement to traditional software development methods to make building software a lot easier and more efficient. Although through frequent iterative development, Agile aims to identify defects, and incorporate changes easily, not all Agile projects end up being successful.
Not having the right Agile mindset, lack of communication, lack of leadership support, and plain resistance can all play spoilsport. However, by building a culture of collaboration, using the right practices, and embracing the right tools, you can overcome each of the challenges, increase the quality of deliverables, reduce overhead costs, and make the most of Agile to meet your software development goals with ease.
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