Organizations throughout the globe have embraced and seen effective results from the agile development methodology. Whether it is applied for mobile app development, web design, production support, or a desktop application, the results are a consistent and proven success. There are several important factors that are critical to the success of agile application development, however.
Adoption Begins at the Top of the Organization
Agile development is a very big commitment. To ensure that messaging is consistent and positive throughout an enterprise, the executive suite must have full buy-in and comfort with the decision. Today, agile application development is not as unfamiliar as it once was, and there are plenty of studies and examples to support the change. This will help in making the decision that is correct for the company. When the executive leadership is enthused and engaged with a sea-change such as agile, it shows. Nothing excites a workforce like excitement from senior leadership.
The Correct Product Owner Can Make or Break the Project
In some cases, such as a company with a large focus on customer service or manual operations, a top performer or key representative must be removed from their current role to serve as a product owner. This can seem daunting if the organization has come to rely on the individual, but this resource moving into the Product Owner role is an absolute necessity. Ideal candidates should be thought leaders in their respective position. They should possess key product knowledge, and should have excellent soft skills. Written and verbal communication is also very important. User story clarity and elicitation are linchpins. The same talents that this individual has leveraged to master their current role are absolutely transferable and must be utilized as part of agile development.
Resource Allocation Must be 100 Percent
Some smaller companies struggle with this particular tenet, but it must be done this way. If you are in a mobile app development environment, be prepared for some critical development staff members to be unavailable whilst working through agile sprints. Agile relies heavily on team synergy, efficiency, and momentum. Key resources such as this are necessary for success. When first adopting agile methods, take that into consideration. Team selection per sprint should have this in mind.
Flexibility and Open-Mindedness are Key
You will often see unconventional and brilliant solutions with an agile team. These may seem worrying from the outset, but the team will use each other, the agile method, and the user stories to deliver a consistent and functional product. The hands-off approach works best. In the example of a scrum team, the Scrum Master serves the purpose of reporting progress and managing the scrum board. There is no element of resource management other than enforcing the 100 percent allocation rule if necessary. If the organization is accustomed to a more hands-on approach, this may seem off-putting. In fact, the agile team will yield better results when external interference is at a minimum. The agile framework can provide all of the information that you need.
Follow the Method
If you break with your chosen agile method, you will never achieve peak performance. Decisions should always relate to the cornerstones of whatever style of agile has been chosen. I will use scrum as an example once again. Individual team members may be inclined to work in their current role and remain inflexible. While it is true that these people were chosen based on the skills that they display in a current position, scrum sometimes requires that team members take on tasks which are outside of their comfort zone. A developer may need to perform more than just a unit test, or an analyst may need to provide guidance on UI design. This is just one example, but there are many. To work correctly, all the tenets must be observed.
As you can see, agile is the most effective when following the rules, being flexible, having a strong product owner, and championing the method from the executive level. There are many case studies on the subject of agile, and the organizations that enjoy success have those qualities in common.