Agile implementation – A differentiator to crack large deals

In today’s changing world, businesses transform rapidly and so is the competition, hence the desires tend to change within Projects. In such scenarios, cost of change can be haughty. Agile practices enables developers to reduce these costs and exhibiting faster results with lesser formalities.

Currently, the Information Technology industry has a disastrous track record, where majority of the projects fail due to late delivery of project and also projects go beyond the budgeted cost.

Challenges in the IT industry
Change in Requirement – There are various assumptions made at the time of inception of the project till the closure, these are the biggest contributors to astonishments by the time product is released. .
One of the major ones being that “we know the requirements”. Requirements tend to change and hence finally might altered too.

Lack of Stakeholder Involvement – In a traditional environment, there is an apparent lack of stakeholder involvement. There is neither a communication channel between customer and developer nor the continuous collaboration between developers and their managers, these factors indicate a possible snag since the end customer lacks perceptibility into the product being built. Brining developers and users together on the common platform is a great way to efficiently address business challenges and requirement.

Early Product Realization Issues– In old times, development environment, stakeholders including developers wait till the final phases of the project to see a working product. This tradition injects defects along the way and accumulates them to be tested only until the product is delivered.

Unrealistic schedules and Inadequate testing– In an IT ecosystem where hierarchy structure are involved, approximations are barely a collaboration task. Schedule estimates are allocated and milestones are define by the higher management. The team is then supposed to follow to the schedule. Due to this lot of time being spent in the early phases, and the schedule getting slipped, as a result of which testing might not be done in its entire range and the product eventually delivered with defects.

Cost of Change – In a traditional waterfall model, cost of modification increases exceptionally as we move along the different phases in the lifecycle. The primary reason behind this that, in the waterfall model all the decisions to be taken during the inception phase of the project, if any change comes afterwards, this can affects all the deliverables of the project.

What is Agile?
So what is Agile? It’s a holistic approach creating various iterative and incremental software development methodologies, where requirements grows and are developed by constant collaboration across teams during the lifecycle of the project. All iterations are time-bound and there’s hardly any scope for negligence. It’s fundamentally the principles and values of an agile process that make it completely ‘Agile’. An agile process believes in unity, simplicity, adaptability and transparency and maintains these values using best in class practices like continuous collaboration and embracing changes in requirement. It believes in the principle to keep it simple and just enough process is used by a set of self-organized and self-motivated individuals in the team.

Why Agile?
Early ROI and lower costs – Using agile made costs of resources used in extensive planning in the initial changes and then costs of rework are reduced. In addition, due to prioritization of requirements, high-valued features are implemented first and hence higher return on investment is realized in the early stages.

Validated product early – After every iteration, the increment is demonstrated to the customer. Since parts of the product are visible to the customer regularly, s/he is quite capable to visualize the product in its entirety, analyze risks involved along with the team, and validate the product each iteration. This inhibits defect accumulation with regard to requirements, design, and code.

Embracing Change – Agile principles are based on adapting to evolving requirements from the customer. As the customer sees his/her product being built, he/she has a better view of the product, and hence requirements get refined along the way. Agile values this and costs involved with such changes are much lower here. Barry Boehm had indicated an exponential increase in cost of change as we move forward in the lifecycle. Kent Beck, creator of XP and TDD, created his own model of cost of change that challenged Boehm’s curve. It espoused that change can be inexpensive even late in the lifecycle while maintaining system quality. Cockburn and Ambler revised this “fl at” curve to refl ect modern corporate realities5.

Customer and Developer Satisfaction – Since agile practices believe in continuous integration and feedback loop, the customer gets to validate the product inch by inch. Hence there are lesser defects and lesser surprises left for the end, resulting in a satisfi ed customer. At the same time, the developers do not have to follow bloated processes that do not suit their way of work, and inhibits any control from the upper management. This gives agile an edge of having satisfi ed team members too.

Scope for Innovation – Agile practices encourage initiative, innovation and teamwork for all kinds of activities. Also the must-have features get built fi rst, leaving the nice to have features for later iterations, thus facilitating creativity to the product and resulting in scalable projects.

Agile, with an expanding and self-sustaining pace, has reached out to nearly every nook and corner of the world where IT lives. It is no more considered as an alternative to IT process, but a must-have to break the ground rules of traditional development models. Since no process is without flaws; agile too has its own negatives of being highly successful only in co-located small teams and performing weakly in distributed environments. However, the advantages of going the agile way may outweigh the cons that can defi nitely be overcome using strategic development practices.

An empirical approach like Scrum goes a long way in adopting practical approaches to the IT world where a prediction model falls short. Embracing changes and encouraging flexibility gives direct gains into increasing customer satisfaction and displaying value-added results along with motivating the team. Leaving behind the tradition of assigning work and thus creating a culture of accountability are key elements in this paradigm shift. The collaborative and flexible environment that agile advocates cuts across all variables that impact an IT process control. Nevertheless, “underpromise and overdeliver” is what eventually helps teams rise to success, and agile is definitely one of the roads to it in the IT world.

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