According to Forrester, there are over 100,000 software companies worldwide. Some of them follow traditional methods of project management (waterfall, spiral, etc.), and some prefer Agile. How does this affect the result? Why is it more profitable to work with Agile teams?
Agile development principles
In our fast-changing world, companies need to keep up with innovation. Therefore, the time-to-market of your product should be shortened as much as possible, and if a similar product has already skyrocketed, you need to adapt yours. Agile development allows you to achieve this.
Agile is a philosophy that gives a software team a clear guideline on how to develop a product. Here, each team member influences the process and gives feedback. The core values of the methodology are spelled out in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
Here are the four basic values of Agile:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
Agile gives developers the flexibility to make changes in a product faster. The work is divided into several stages, each of which is approved by the customer. Also, Agile involves continuous design improvement and testing. The success of Agile development is determined by the cohesion of the team where each participant is interested in high product quality and strives to enhance it.
Benefits of Agile development for businesses
Companies that have introduced Agile see the following benefits of this methodology:
With Agile, teams report on the results of their work more often, so the Project Manager can regularly deliver reports with metrics showing the progress of the team and its performance to the customer. Since the work is divided into sprints, development is easier to tailor. The customer can even participate in the project – propose the order of implementing new functions, plan iterations together with the team, and so on.
According to the Agile Survey of 2020, transparency (70%) and the ability to easily make project changes (65%) are the Agile benefits that companies value most.
- Stable schedule and predictable results.
When cooperating with an Agile team, the customer always knows when they will receive the next working increment of the product, in what form it will be provided, and how much money they will spend on implementation (i.e. it is easier for the customer to calculate the investment profitability as they select and prioritize features that should go into the nearest increment).
With the Agile approach, each stage of work is planned, and during each sprint, the team covers the agreed scope of tasks. Based on the results of the sprint, the project team evaluates the results of their work.
Flexibility implies the ability to make changes to the development within the scope agreed between the customer and the contractor – for example, replace some functions or parts of the product, make adjustments in the next iteration based on test results, etc.
- Fast delivery to market.
Agile development has enabled 60% of companies to nearly double their software delivery speed. When a team applies non-Agile development methodologies, making changes to the product, testing it, and deploying the software takes more time. Since Agile development is often carried out with the help of DevOps professionals and CI/CD tools, this enables continuous product change, testing, and delivery. Thanks to such a pipeline, the customer gets the result faster.
- Higher software quality.
In Agile development, programmers make product changes based on user feedback, and QA engineers perform continuous testing. This approach makes it possible to avoid mistakes after the application is released to the market, when the cost of a bug can be tens of thousands of dollars. That is why the success rate of Agile development is twice as high as that of traditional projects.
- Revenue growth.
According to research by Standish Group, an Agile project can cost 3.6 times less than a classic development. This is influenced by all of the above advantages – from the working style of teams to the speed of product delivery.
The role of a Project Manager in an Agile project
Your project needs a Project Manager to keep the whole picture in mind and document it on time. This will help you focus primarily on business needs, while all operational activities of the project can be entrusted to your Project Manager. The team members usually see only their part of the work and can miss some important details. The PM constantly moves from the particular work to the general and can answer any of the customer’s questions.
Here are some of the PM’s responsibilities:
- elaborating project plans,
- giving teamwork assignments and creating tasks,
- communicating with the team and stakeholders,
- preparing reports,
- calculating the project costs,
- identifying resource needs,
- tracking key project milestones and adjusting project plans.
The PM helps to select suitable methods, techniques, tools, and resources to reduce project costs and risks. By effectively managing budgets and timescales, the PM helps the development to meet the deadlines and stay within budget despite any changes in project plans.
The PM also serves as the point of contact for everyone. All the information is accumulated, documented, and analyzed by a single person who then passes it to the stakeholders. Otherwise, this immediately becomes a mess.
For instance, you ask a particular developer to fix a bug. The developer doesn’t tell anyone about the issue and starts working on it. But another developer who found the bug before might be doing the same thing.
If you are not satisfied with the results of the work, the PM is the one to receive the complaints and convey them to the team in a constructive manner. The PM preserves the team’s efficiency and transforms criticism into specific improvements. This manager helps to reveal internal and external tensions, facilitate conflicts, and ensure a positive atmosphere within the team, which is essential for Agile projects.
The PM also resolves issues not only when but even before they appear. PMs forecast potential issues based on their professional experience. The PM’s daily work helps to find pitfalls at the earliest stage of the project, which is crucial for long-term and expensive projects.
The PM identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes risks to minimize, monitor, and control their possible impact on your project. Including a PM in your project means that you get 100% transparency of all the processes and a well-coordinated team to meet the needs of your business when using Agile methodology.
How to get started with an Agile project
Both large companies and startups may have a lack of hands to implement an Agile project. In this case, the customer can assemble a distributed team, i.e. hire specialists from different vendors. Is this good or bad for Agile development?
The main component of Agile development is transparency and trust within the team. And now imagine the programmers, designers, testers, and analysts who first meet on a project. They haven’t worked together before, and there is no compatibility between them, which undermines productivity. There is even a special formula by which the PM can determine the level of team cohesion in order to decide how to motivate them for the best result.
However, distributed team members need time to become tight-knit. Therefore, if the speed of product release is the defining criterion for you, opt for a team from a single vendor. The vendor has a common work procedure and commitment to quality and processes, which will provide you with a team that works harmoniously according to the best practices within their company.
Agile helps project teams manage risks better. With Agile development, everyone wins; the only important thing is to set up the processes correctly.
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