7 Things to Consider When Implementing Agile Software Development Practices
July 19, 2017 - Software Development
Implementing Agile software development practices is not an instantaneous and smooth process – it requires collaborative effort of management and the team. On the way to Agile transition you need to be prepared to face some challenges to overcome. That is why we assembled the list of the most important things to remember while implementing Agile software development practices, so that you were armed with the information when it comes to deploying Agile methods in your company.
Building a culture of trust within a company is not an easy but very important thing to do. It takes effort both from teams and leaders, who should be deeply engaged in all the processes.
Not establishing a culture of trust has implications of unpleasant atmosphere, where efficient working processes are impossible, not to mention transition to Agile software development practices.
When managers do not listen to the team members, do not want to hear them and, consequently, do not understand them; when there is no open communication which is the equivalent of trust; when mistakes are condemned – you will fail to build trust in the company.
Listen to your employees, ask them for advice – and you will be surprised what useful constructive feedback you were missing, how many problems you even did not know you had.
Lead by example, show your trust to the employees – and the team will reciprocate.
Encourage open communication where everyone can share their thoughts honestly and without fear – and you will avoid distortions and will always keep abreast of the reality.
Stop punishing the team for the errors made, learn from mistakes together – and your team will prevent them in the future.
All these principles in combination facilitate establishing a culture of trust without which transition to Agile software development is impossible.
Agile methodology advocates continuous improvement, which implies sustained effort to improve working processes, as well as products or services. It is a continual process essential to build an Agile environment and deliver value. Continual improvement seeks to motivate teams and enable their members increase skills and share knowledge not only with each other, but also with people from other teams.
To make Agile bring expected results, processes should be continuously evaluated for their efficiency and effectiveness, and improved. It, in turn, is impossible without flexibility, when teams are able to quickly adapt to rapidly changing situations. What is more, improvement is not only about processes and the quality of products and services – it is improvement in relationships and strategies, it is all about getting better all together in each and every aspect.
Continuous improvement helps to streamline and optimize workflows, while maintaining quality, allowing to reduce costs and save valuable time.
Make sure that when difficulties arise, teams are capable of addressing challenges on their own. Your employees, people in teams, are a rich source of knowledge and strong power able to respond to any emerging issues.
Promoting the practice of self-managed teams solving their own problems, start with asking a team how they would solve a particular problem. They will brainstorm, bringing together knowledge and expertise, and you will receive the most sustainable and effective solution. Your responsibility is to streamline a process where all members of the team act cohesively, use collective knowledgebase and operating infrastructure to find the best solution to any problem.
Without self-organization and effective teamwork – in the true sense of the word – the work will stop each time problems pop up unexpectedly. Obviously, this is an undesirable scenario, so rely on teams – and they will not disappoint you.
Convey to each member of a team that the overall quality of the product is everyone’s responsibility. It is important to understand that the risk of poor quality is hidden in every aspect and element of software development process: requirements, documentation, code, delivery, automation, support, etc. None of those places is the strict realm of a QA team, and therefore, QA is not the only team responsible for seeking out and eliminating vulnerabilities. Quality-first mindset means that everyone in a team feels accountable to mitigate and manage risks, and puts every effort into maintaining a high level of quality.
Time means money, while early delivery and continuous improvement are among the core principles of Agile software development. Finding out where waste of time hides and eliminating this bottleneck on a regular basis is something you should always remember about if you are committed to making your company Agile. Constant identifying and addressing waste of effort lies in the same area: clear prioritization of tasks is a must. It is important to avoid doing extra work and developing redundant features, in order to get the scope of work done on time.
Quality should be a top priority in every aspect of Agile software development. The right things should be done in the right way and on time. Keep in mind that it is up to you to ensure that all processes related to software development are consistent with quality principles and proceed in accordance with best practices. If a final product or an intermediate version of the product does not meet customer specifications and requirements, an omission occurred. The quality should be your mantra, and you cannot be half Agile.
Value delivery is a prerequisite for transition to and staying Agile. Focusing on value in its smallest form means focusing on features essential to meet strategic objectives and customer needs.
Your mission is to get everyone focused on delivering value; to make all processes and product features value-driven. Everything should be assessed and measured: from the impact of a product feature on customer satisfaction to how costs can be reduced and return increased.
If you focus on value, you will be surprised by return on investment growth facilitated by Agile software development.
As stated above, transition to Agile software development could be challenging, but the effect will exceed your expectations and make all your efforts worthwhile. However, beware of a pitfall: once you get the first results, do not be deceived thinking your Agile transition is over. Implementing Agile processes is not a one-time event – it is a journey which requires patience and discipline.
Companies and teams that experience lack of discipline: do not stick to Agile software development principles, do not work on continuous improvement, waste time and effort, miss deadlines and ignore problems – fail to become Agile. Without building discipline and emphasizing its importance, you will not be able to master the journey to Agility. Just ask yourself who in any field you consider to be good at what they do. This could be a musician, writer, surgeon, project manager or developer – anyone who gained your respect as a professional. If you asked any of those people how they became a master of their craft, they would most likely mention persistence, discipline and consolidation of the results.
To gain success, you just have to keep consistently putting one foot in front of the other.
Special thanks are extended to Cornel J. Montano for his assistance in the preparation of the article.
All images credit: Lionsgate