Companies large and small are under pressure to become more efficient by integrating digital technologies and processes into daily operations. Along the way, the organization swaps out conventional development methods for those that are agile, which enables a company to complete software development projects more quickly and efficiently while achieving better results.
But the road to agility can be a bumpy one when the departure point is marked with antiquated systems and development processes. What’s more, the transition is made more complex by ever-changing system requirements and the need to combine information from disparate places. All the while, business personnel may cling to old but familiar processes. Nevertheless, it is possible to take particular steps to help your company slough off outdated development techniques and experience the benefit of agile development processes. Here are seven tips to help you do so.
1. The adoption of robust project governance.
To ensure a mission-critical digital initiative is treated as such, make sure it receives the time and attention it requires to be successful. When possible, limit the number of unique projects for which any one team member is responsible. Also, make senior executives part of the daily project governance team that addresses critical issues, and in so doing, make sure the sub-projects remain on schedule and within budget. When senior executives are present during weekly meetings, they can employ their power to resolve outstanding issues quickly.
2. The delegation of decision-making authority.
Even when initiatives are clearly visible on a senior executive’s radar, some decisions need to be made immediately rather than be tabled until later. To avoid unnecessary delays to the project, each person responsible for a subproject should receive decision-making authority. For instance, the presence of representatives of IT operations, software development and business operations on a subproject team speeds the decision-making process.
3. The existence of a flexible IT architecture that supports the piecemeal implementation of new features.
An IT architecture that allows the update or replacement of components, rather than the entire system, is essential to the successful implementation of agile development processes. An agile architecture derives its flexibility in large part through control software, which must be reliable and maintainable as it adapts to new products and components. These qualities are achieved by means of the software’s design, which facilitates rapid changeover and the piecemeal introduction of new products and features.
4. The creation of a well-defined software development road map.
The agile methodology is a means to divide a large system into a number of relatively small components that can be developed and implemented individually. By limiting the interdependencies among the individual components, the progress of each component can be mapped, making clear its go-live date and its interrelationships with other projects.
5. The co-location of agile and DevOps team members.
Relying on user stories, rather than traditional system requirements, grants developers an opportunity to create a design that best meets a user’s requirements. This process is best supported by the DevOps practice of locating OPS and development personnel in the same area to facilitate frequent, face-to-face interactions, a practice that minimizes opportunities for miscommunication.
6. The formation of partnerships with multiple vendors.
By outsourcing development work to more than one vendor, a company promotes competition that best ensures an on-time, on-budget delivery of products. Competing vendors understand that the allotment of future work depends on current performance: the timely and cost-effective delivery of components that work well and are easy to maintain, expand or revise.
7. The establishment of a trusting atmosphere.
A trusting and collaborative atmosphere is due in part to the way a company partners with vendors. Trust is also furthered by asking all partners and team members to deliver their elements of a system in a short and specific time frame, such as 14 days. The quick turnaround promotes good vendor performance and mutual trust, as does the prompt replacement of teams and team members who don’t perform well.
The use of agile methods streamlines the development of components and supports the prompt delivery of digital products. In turn, the success of the process deepens the commitment of team members and senior leaders to the agile approach.