There’s perhaps no industry that experiences change as rapidly as information technology. Trends that were the rage just a couple of years ago may easily find themselves on the fringes of relevance today. The agile methodology was on the mouths of software development teams around the world not too long ago. While that hasn’t changed much, the growing focus on DevOps and CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) is threatening to take over software lifecycle conversations.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with new trends, of course, as they are an indicator that organizations are constantly looking for new ways to improve their approach, speed, and agility. In any case, agile, CI/CD and DevOps aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s possible to enjoy the best of all worlds. How do you, however, determine what approach will deliver maximum impact? In particular, how do you truly gauge whether going with agile is best in light of the emerging software development techniques?
Many development teams have found that agile currently offers the best return for the business in four crucial areas—improved visibility, easier adaptability, reduced risk, and increased business value. Here’s a quick look at how it does.
Agile’s visibility ensures the interests of project stakeholders are preserved thanks to the active user involvement and highly collaborative approach. As the team becomes more autonomously organized, it can rapidly adapt to changes and impediments as required. With that, productivity and team morale steadily increase as stakeholders experience a higher sense of project ownership. Automation increases time-to-market, therefore, boosting business value through higher revenue and customer satisfaction. It also drastically reduces risks by minimizing the reliance on human action in the process.
All of these benefits are great, but how do you implement the full agile software lifecycle so you can enjoy them all. Most times, what people perceive as shortcomings of agile are, in fact, problems caused by a failure to pursue a full agile software lifecycle.
The Full Agile Software Lifecycle
CI/CD and DevOps may be great ways to improve your project delivery, but they do not necessarily make your organization agile. To make your whole software lifecycle agile, you have to think through each phase of the cycle—planning, analysis, design, implementation, testing/integration, and maintenance.
For agile purposes, these 6 phases can be improved on 4 fronts—methodology (for planning, analysis, and implementation phases), architecture (for the design phase), technology (for the implementation phase), and automation and infrastructure (for the testing/integration and maintenance phase). Let’s take a closer look.
Agile methodology allows your business to adapt to changes quickly. It requires collaboration between development teams and the business. Such cohesion and synergy lead to faster time to value allowing developers to discover requirements quicker. The rapid adoption of changes within the business accelerates the agility of the planning, analysis, and implementation phases.
Architecture means creating a flexible solution to accommodate continuous changes in the business. Employing principles from microservices and component-based architecture helps you create independent, autonomous systems. With the reduction in the impact of change, your business enjoys unprecedented flexibility. Making your development architecture agile impacts the design phase the most which cascade the efficiency benefits to the implementation and maintenance phases.
Automation is about drastically speeding up your most time-consuming processes. While the principles of automation are apparent, making your automation agile can be arduous. You are more likely to succeed if you begin by adding up the time you spend on manual tasks then ranking tasks by time consumed.
You can then focus your automation efforts on the tasks that take up most time as this is where you will enjoy the greatest improvement. Automation reduces the risk of human error and accelerates the testing and integration phase of the software lifecycle.
The role of infrastructure is to remain dependable in the wake of additions and changes. Having to wait for server provision and/or upgrades is not acceptable in the agile lifecycle. You are better off going with an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider who will ensure requests for server availability and upgrade are acted on almost instantaneously.
In addition to this, containerization and automation should be combined in order to improve agility in the testing/integration and maintenance phases.
You cannot make your software lifecycle truly agile if you don’t have the right technology. Don’t be restricted to choosing just one system. Instead, go with the number and variety of tools you need to realize your agility goals. For example, log management tools that centralize your log monitoring can be useful in reducing the number of machines and applications you need to log into individually when analyzing logs (see a practical example on the link where Papertrail announced Windows Log Management).
Prioritize technologies that can scale in line with your future growth projections. Consider adopting full-stack platforms but only as long as they don’t hamper your speed of execution.
As you work toward the realization of the full agile software lifecycle, begin with the phases in your current methodology that are least mature as these are low hanging fruit that can deliver rapid results in the shortest time.
Featured Image: Designed by katemangostar / Freepik