Secrets to Hire a Winning Agile Development Team Revealed
As an application developer or vendor, would you want to deploy a development method that reduces business risk by guaranteeing value or “bang for the buck” even in the initial development stages? What if the process keeps adding value throughout the development cycle by continuous feedback and planning? Would your clients complain if they see their commissioned software being aligned to their changing business needs, even in later stages, instead of guessing its success rate when they get to see the final product?
The answer is a no-brainer. Indeed, it’s every developer and client’s dream to gain such collaboration, transparency, and most importantly, risk minimization in their products. This is precisely what Agile methodology achieves. It’s a lightweight framework that works on the principles of iterations, feedback and value-addition. Through time-boxed iterations that are fully-tested and deployable in a standalone capacity, developers and designers can identify discrepancies in the software and revise the model to avoid huge, irreparable losses later.
A Live Example to Demonstrate Agile’s Supremacy over Waterfall
Agile principles took birth from the practical challenges and limitations that were faced by developers, project-after-project, on following the linear Waterfall approach. We will not delve into the differences between the two methods, those are common knowledge. Instead, we will attempt to give an insider view into how the two processes differ, through a live example.
Google is developing a project to compete with MS-Word. The software will have all the features in MS-Word and additional features and will be delivered in 10 months. Let us see how the development will take place in Agile and Non-Agile method.
In Waterfall Method:
- Project teams will spend 15% time or 1.5 months in need analysis of the client
- 20% time or 2 months will be spent on design
- 40% or 4 months on coding and unit testing
- 20% or 2 months on system and integration testing
- At the end, there will be 2 weeks of user acceptance testing by marketing teams
- The customer will get to see the project at the end. If the customer demands any changes, the entire linear sequence will have to be repeated. By that time, the product might already be over budget or too delayed to be relevant in the market.
In Agile Method:
- The project is broken up into several “iterations” of short duration (between 2 to 8 weeks)
- At the end of each iteration, a working product is delivered
- Rather than devoting 1.5 months on need analysis, the teams decide the core features that they want in the product
- Then, they decide the order in which features would be developed. The most significant features are developed in the first iteration and the others are spread across subsequent iterations. Daily time-boxed meetings (Sprints) are held to review work done and in progress. Meeting objectives are clearly mentioned and daily backlog is completed before proceeding.
- At the end of first iterations, the team delivers a working software with all the features that they determined as the most significant. Usability testing is done and performance of the software is evaluated. The feedback is incorporated in the next iteration cycle and so, the product gets enhanced and updated according to client and audience demands.
By now, it must be crystal-clear which model can deliver value to your business. No wonder, agile projects have a three times higher success rate than non-Agile ones states a CHAOS report from the Standish Group.
Here’s how we can sum up iteration in the agile method visually:
High-Performance Agile Teams: The Key to 98% satisfied clients
Agile Development Team are high-performance teams (HPT) that work in a cross-functional, collaborative manner to deliver well-defined goals within prescribed timelines. These are typically called SCRUM teams.
High-performance teams have the following characteristics:
- Empowered to take decisions
- Working towards a common objective
- Equipped to overcome any type of obstacle
The Roles in a Scrum team are defined and shown by the graphic below:
Product Owner : He defines and owns the product vision and has the responsibility of deriving maximum benefit from the software. He represents business and customers. There should be only one Product Owner per project.
Scrum Master : He is the facilitator and evangelist of Scrum. He does not have liberty to modify goals, priorities and schedules. He helps in change management to the Agile method. He helps development team overcome roadblocks.
Development Team: The team delivers the product features. They are self-organized and cross functional. The team includes programmers, analysts, designers, documentation experts and GUI designers.
The Questions You should Ask for Hiring a Development Team for Your Next Project
The principle best-suited for evaluating a Development Team’s efficacy is “Demonstrate, don’t Describe.” A working knowledge and proven track record of successful deliveries should be rated higher than years of experience or long credentials of members.
Here are some questions that will hopefully, ease your task of choosing a development team for your next application or software:
#1 How well do you know my business needs?
No two businesses have the same challenges, client interactions, processes and value proposition. Although relevant experience in your industry segment is always a positive, a team willing to invest time and effort in analyzing your needs can also work exceptionally well.
#2 Do you have new concepts or strategies for my project?
Apart from understanding your well-defined ideas, the team should have innovative approach and enthusiasm to add value to your project model. However, the ideas must have practical, data-backed evidence of success.
#3 How often will you communicate with me?
As is clear, Agile framework offers transparency to client (Product Owner) and requires constant collaboration between development, design, testing, quality control teams and the client. The communication pattern should be well-defined so that the feedback and review loops can continue uninterruptedly throughout project development journey. Technology-driven platforms such as Slack, HipChat, Trello and Zoom can be used by the team.
#4: How comfortable are you with changing requirements?
Although Agile principles convey flexibility and adaptation at all stages, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enquire about it. The benefit of Agile is that outcomes are judged earlier on and it’s easy to understand when the project is not progressing according to the client’s requirements. So, when the requirements change, the development shouldn’t be so tied to code, a story card or any other component of work that prevents providing a solution which meets the customer’s needs.
#5 What project management(PM) tools have you used before?
Agile has a new set of tools such as Rally Software, Version One and XPlanner that are way different than waterfall PM tools such as Clarity and MS-Project.Evaluate if the PM tools used suit your business issues, milestones and change requests.
Hopefully, these questions will give you a head start in selecting the right development team for your next project. For an ISO-certified team of 250 Agile developers that has delivered more than 330 applications, reach us.
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