As the Agile development methodology continues to grow in popularity, the need for professional training in the process has grown as well. As a part of our ongoing adoption of the process, two members of our development teams recently attended Agile training and achieved their Scrum Master certifications. Dave Balser, JD Edwards Delivery Director, and Gian Genovesi, Senior Magento Consultant, each traveled to Columbus for a two-day session hosted by LitheSpeed.
During the training, Gian and Dave were introduced to the overall Scrum and Agile process, which works by creating stories out of business process requirements, and then prioritizing those stories into sprints in order to deliver functionality on an ongoing basis throughout the project. Using real-world experience on large-scale projects, the training was able to outline why Agile makes sense in a software development landscape. Agile was created to manage and react to change and operate in an industry where change is constant, as opposed to other forms of project management that are change-resistant.
The scrum is an integral part of the Agile methodology. It defines the process and roles within the development framework that is intended to deliver functional pieces of software quicker in a more flexible approach than what may occur in the traditional, more sequential waterfall approach. The Scrum Master, which is one of the many Agile certifications, fulfills a specific role within the Agile project management structure by acting as a facilitator within the process between the product owner and the development team.
Through his Scrum Master training, Gian created a development method for the Briteskies Magento team that he refers to as Scragilefall. Essentially, Scragilefall is made up of the aspects of both the Agile/Scrum and Waterfall development methods. Just as in Waterfall, the process has milestone plans and the team stays organized through weekly status meetings, however due dates are not the main emphasis. Instead, the focus is on providing constant feedback and welcoming change rather than being resistant to it. Additionally, pieces of work are scoped in levels of complexity as opposed to rigid amounts of time (hours/days). Gian was able to take the beneficial aspects of each process and marry them together into a unique method that allows us to work within the Agile framework as well as provide our clients with clear delivery expectations.
For our JD Edwards team, Dave is planning on incorporating what he learned in his Scrum Master training within our project methodology. Currently, the development team utilizes the traditional Waterfall method and as such goes through very defined, time-consuming development stages, during which there is much being done but few if any deliverables to show the client. Under that method, deliverables are not ready until the final stage. By employing aspects of the Agile process, Dave and his team will be able to get clients deliverables more quickly. One option is to offer more flexibility into the process by identifying the simpler aspects that can be handled while still working out the more complex portions of the project, as opposed to waiting until each item has been completed. This approach will help the Briteskies JDE Team take a business process from start to finish more quickly as well as provide tangible items to clients sooner.
We were thrilled to hear at JDE Summit 2014 that Oracle also appears to be moving towards the Agile method. At the Summit they shared their plans of providing updated pieces of functionality more often, which would enable clients to perform smaller, more frequent updates as opposed to undertaking a major overhaul every 3-5 years.
By integrating the Agile approach into our project methodologies, Briteskies customers will see significant benefits to the process of completing their goal. Testing throughout the life cycle of the project leads to not only better quality, but more frequent delivery. This allows for (and encourages) a collaborative approach between development and client teams. Increased customer feedback leads to higher customer satisfaction, which is something we at Briteskies are always trying to achieve. And, of course, incremental testing and delivery provides easier control over cost and risk management. Our goal is to use these benefits to improve the products we create, and build successful relationships with our customers.