Why agile hype could lead to risk of failure for Kiwi software projects

"Agile software implementations can undoubtedly deliver an end product that is much closer to the business requirements."

Agile methodology, which involves collaboration and adaptive planning to meet businesses’ needs, has been labelled by some as the ‘new’ way of delivering software projects.

Benefits such as faster and more efficient delivery, and the ability to incorporate changing and/or late requirements are being used to convince businesses that agile is the right path for them.

The issue for businesses in New Zealand is that they are being sold on the approach without the tools to ensure success.

"Agile software implementations can undoubtedly deliver an end product that is much closer to the business requirements," says Darren Christophersen, General Manager, Applications & Consulting, Empired.

"However, there is little consideration being given to how these benefits will be realised within an organisation.

“There is much advocating for moving to an agile approach but success has been sporadic and inconsistent particularly within large enterprises."

According to Christophersen, this can be because what worked for small projects and/or product development does not work for large enterprise projects.

Enterprise applications have a much broader range of stakeholders and dependencies, are often contracted for delivery outside of the organisation, and the funding model for enterprise projects is often structured and staged, whereas smaller projects can be run from operating expenditure.

Other reasons for failure include lack of governance and consideration for how the project will transition into support; deviation from the principals of agile; and an overall lack of communication.

"All of this aside, if organisations are properly equipped for an agile implementation they will realise significant benefits," Christophersen adds.

"A successful agile project will allow for client use and review throughout the project.

"This means regular feedback can be provided and quickly incorporated, reducing issues with the production environment and the need for rework and, ultimately, leading to a better software project outcome."

Five ways to ensure agile success

1. Recognise that the method of gaining access to capital is not going to change.

Project identification, feasibility, capital request and execution is the process for how all business initiatives are assessed.

This will not change just because an agile approach is being used. Identify ways to work within the model such as the use of fixed feature points and roadmaps with specific goals.

2. Understand that commitment and involvement from all stakeholders is critical.

Ensure there is fast, regular and high-quality feedback to and from stakeholders through regular delivery using rapid, flexible and controlled environment creation and management and automation of test and release.

3. Make governance and control a priority. As with any project governance and control ensures that ownership, responsibility and accountability are in place.

4. Have the right team ready to perform and ensure they remain close to the business users. Make sure they are trained and experienced, and that they understand agile and the importance of project management.

5. Ensure you have the right tools to support the team. This includes voice, video and messaging for efficient remote collaboration, project tracking and reporting tools, continuous integration and deployment tools, and environment management and automation.

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