Older and wiser programmers have experienced the era of the 80s and the 90s, when software programming was radically different than it is today: No integrated development environments and color coding, Elementary make files rather than sophisticated dependency management tools, no possibility to “google” errors, no access to online communities such as StackOverflow. Twenty years later developers are not only offered much more powerful tools but they also have access to the predefined best practices, blueprint solutions and a wide range of software libraries that save them time, effort and costs. Nonetheless, software development productivity is still one of the major concerns for the IT industry. The reason is quite straightforward: Software teams must nowadays deal with changing business environments, unpredictable requirements, systems of greater complexity, as well as larger, specialized and highly distributed teams.
In order to cope with these requirements software teams should adopt and fully leverage agile principles and practices as part of their software development methodology.
No matter your software development methodology, there are always some signs that should alert you about the need for changing the way you develop software systems. In most cases, these signs stem from the fact that you are still relying on conventional, heavyweight and inflexible waterfall-like methodologies instead of the modern agile best practices. However, these also appear in cases where your adoption of agile principles is poor or in its infancy. The most common of these symptoms are:
Agile software methodologies emphasize early, iterative and continuous delivery of valuable software, in a way that can flexibly embrace changes in customers’ requirements. Agile welcomes changing requirements, while delivering a working system in short timescales (e.g., even on a weekly or biweekly basis). Moreover, these methodologies emphasize on frequent and effective communications across project stakeholders, including developers, business people and representatives of the customer side. Furthermore, using Agile, a sustainable flow of software production is attained, as sponsors, developers and users collaborate to maintain a constant pace throughout the course of the project’s implementation.
There are a number of agile methodologies, which suit different needs and are used by many teams all around the globe. Among the most popular ones are SCRUM, XP (Extreme Programming) and lean development. The selection of the proper methodology for your organization depends on a range of different factors including the types of the projects you undertake (e.g., innovative high-risk projects or well-known projects), the skills and culture of your team, past experience with agile principles and more. No matter your final choice, all agile methodologies comprise a set of best practices that alleviate the above-listed problem symptoms, such as:
Depending on the methodology used, there are also other best practices, which remedy the common problem areas and failure symptoms of software projects.
As in all our use cases blogs, here is the part of fives i.e. five best practices that you could follow for a successful adoption and implementation of one of the above listed agile methodologies.
Overall, several years after the introduction and use of agile principles there are still many teams that are not truly agile yet. Moreover, there are others, who can significantly improve their processes. What’s your status? Is is probably time you improve in this forefront?
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