Agile Software Development: Best Practices, Challenges, and Solutions

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Agile Software Development offers a host of impeccable benefits to an IT organization, including faster deployments, greater acceptability, and better alignment with business needs. The adoption of an agile mindset and methodology while software development is a scalable solution, however, still proven as a challenging one.

Many IT organizations have utilized traditional software development methodologies and faced too many hurdles in the way. Thought leaders who can foresee these common challenges find ways to overcome or avoid them so that the development process can be made smooth. Many of them even opt to outsource them to a software development services provider, who are already adept at the agile methodology, by going through market research and insights. Agile is different from other methodologies as it focuses on the people doing the work and how they work together. The evolution of solutions takes place through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams, using the agile practices according to their way of work.

By understanding the top 10 challenges in Agile Software Development, it becomes easy to avoid solving them and have an effortless transition to a newer way of managing projects.

 

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1. Finance Management Issues

While processing an agile methodology, the steps to follow are not detailed out prior to the development phase. As most of the finance departments follow traditional approaches and cautious mindsets, this is a huge change to be adept at. When a business starts following agile, one of the biggest challenges is faced in the finances and funding departments.

Traditionally, a company would make a business case for a project which includes the scope of the project and a full cost platform down to the pennies. But that’s not the case in Agile methodologies!

To resolve this challenge, businesses need to be more transparent and restructure the departments, so that they can have more cross-team connections and work more closely. The operational teams and finance teams need to get on board with agile adoption, to understand and achieve the true vision of the business.

2. Challenges with Less Planning

Leaderships in a company are more focused on a detailed plan to see the cost estimation and profit projections. With Agile, the projections are generally made at the end of the software development project and hence, many leaders face hardships in giving the development process a green signal.

The solution to this issue is that leaders need to adopt a broader agile mind-set, and also need to understand that agile projects still need a plan, it’s just they are prosecuted differently. In agile, planning takes place in the forms of requirements scoping, aesthetic works, the architecture of the project, and time and money estimates for sprints are completely acceptable.

3. Resistance to change

It’s said, “Change is the only constant”, yet it is disapproved quite a time while changing the whole company’s mindset and culture. There are always some that are resistant to change, especially with becoming agile. An interesting statistic states that only 61% of human resources are interested in switching to agile practices. It suggests that organizations primarily focus on their people and their company culture as a primary target for transition management as it is crucial for the implementation and testing phase.

The solution to this problem can be targeting the Company leaders to be more adept at transition and show the benefits of an agile approach. It will encourage the employees to take sufficient training to understand not only how the shift will work, but also the reasons for transitioning. Leaders have to become agile and lead by example, by being transparent and seeking feedback and from their teams. 

4. Traditional HR Approach

HR and Agile go hand in hand. Agile practices are considered to be great for HR departments as it includes recruiting, evaluating, and promoting employees. Agile is a good way of following processes as it means that the development projects get benefitted as the right people step in, and not outdated skill resources.

These people benefit from the software development project as they are driven towards delivering their best, working with a specific team or leader, and get high compensation benefits. Agile adept companies should upgrade their performance appraisal programs to meet the needs of team-based development.

5. Being Agile Without a Purpose

Some leaders are inclined towards becoming just for the sake of being trendy and adapting to the new normal! If a company goes agile just for the sake of it without giving it a thought whether agile development is good for them or not, they can start lagging behind in their productivity and might lose some good customers. If being agile help in fetching is the key outcome, the plan should be revised to get better business goals.

6. Adopting the Waterfall Approach

Mixing the Agile mindset with the waterfall approach leads to stalling the development process with delays. The best way to get out of this issue is to make the transition happen with small changes and keep the ball moving, learning, and developing the plan as it goes into further phases.

7. Agile Burnout

A risk with agile transitions is employees burning out as they overcommit during the development process they overestimate their capabilities, and can’t keep pace without stressing themselves out. This leads to the team members struggling, making mistakes, and delaying the development process leading to poor ethical behavior. The development project suffers and the company loses its client. The software development team, which started out as enthusiastic, great, and encouraged, starts to crack open as the disheartened ones. Many engineers leave in between, which results in project failure.

To avoid the problem of agile burnout, the company thought leaders need to employ agile facilitators, also known as scrum masters, who will make sure agile teams share properly calculated estimates and things progress at a good pace for all.

8. Agile Fever

Agile development projects are very successful, but the agile approach isn’t suitable for all software development projects. Anything that needs outsourcing or integration of a third party doesn’t have to include an agile methodology, as not all companies follow agile and are more prone to traditional methods. There is a risk associated with agile being followed by an organization. It is said that if organizations run on agile projects, everyone wants to use an agile approach in each project, but if it’s done poorly, the results can be very adverse for the goodwill of the company.

For this issue to be resolved, each and every project should be reviewed individually to make sure that the agile methodology will be best for that project. Generally, agile is best applied when the solution is complex or unknown, and when the development goes through many iterations.  

9. Structural Problems

Agile methodology adoption can go wrong with the pre-existing issues in a company, including compliance departments and legacy systems that cannot be altered with the agile pace of the projects. Businesses must adapt legacy app modernization solutions at the same time that they roll out agile methodologies.

10. Unclear roles

Agile projects have different roles assigned to different members of the team, like the product owner, the scrum master, etc. There should be some specialized roles like testing and alignment because if teams are left to decide all the roles, efficiency may be hampered and the team won’t be well functional as well as it could.

 

Also Read: Software Product Development Life Cycle: Which is the Best Model for Your Project?

 

Here are the 8 primary benefits of an Agile methodology:

 

 

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1. Enhanced Quality

One of the greatest benefits of adopting an Agile framework is improved product quality. By breaking down the project into manageable phases, the project team can focus on high-quality software development, testing, and deployment. Also, by coding in phases and regularly conducting testing and reviews during each iteration, quality is enhanced by searching and fixing defects quickly and identifying mismatched solutions in the early phases. This can lead to a higher degree of client satisfaction. 

2. Focus on Business Value

Another primary benefit of Agile methodology is an increased focus on decoding strategic business value by including business stakeholders in the development process. As this is done, the team understands what’s most important and delivers the required features that provide the maximum business value to their organization.

3. Focus on Users

Agile development user stories with business acceptance and insights provide the criteria to define product features. By focusing on features that match the real needs of users, each feature adds to the value of the software that is developed. This also gives the organization an opportunity to beta test the software after each Sprint and gain valuable feedback early in the development phases so that the relevant changes are made in the project. 

4. Stakeholder Engagement

An Agile development process provides many opportunities for businesses to involve the stakeholder and team to engage with each other (before, during, and after each Sprint). By including both the parties, with the different types of stakeholders in every step of the development project, there is a high level of collaboration across teams. This provides opportunities to the development team to truly understand the vision of the business, deliver software solutions early, and increases stakeholders’ trust as this can lead to more capital investments. Stakeholders are encouraged to be deeply engrossed in the project since trust has been well established in the team’s ability to deliver high-quality software development projects.

5. Early and Predictable Delivery

By using timely fixed schedule sprints of 1-4 weeks, new features are developed and enhanced quickly, with a high level of predictability. This also provides the opportunity to deploy or beta test the software before the plan, which creates sufficient business value.

6. Predictable Costs and Schedule

Because each development sprint has a fixed duration, the development cost becomes predictable and limited to the amount of work and efforts performed by the team in the fixed time schedule box. By combining the estimates provided prior to each sprint, the company can put an estimated cost on each feature that is added in the end solution, which helps in improving the decision making around the priority of features and urgency of additional iterations.

7. Allows for Change

One of the key benefits of an Agile methodology is that it allows the team to change the process in the middle. While the team should be focused on delivering agreed solutions in the product’s features during each iteration, there is an added opportunity to constantly refine the overall product. New or changed features can be planned for the next iteration which provides the opportunity to introduce changes within a few weeks.

8. Promotes RPA at Scale

In the end, a key benefit of applying an agile methodology to RPA initiatives is that it allows automation at scale. Agile principles like dedicated team members, design and aesthetic finalization in advance, backlog maintenance, and sprint planning give automation teams the flexibility and stability to govern and develop complex, end-to-end RPA initiatives at scale, which are more efficient and effective when compared to the traditional waterfall approach ones.

Conclusion about Agile development Best Practices

 

To deliver a successful project, you just don’t need people with the right skill set, but also a proper methodology that needs to be followed. It is important that the methodology you choose has the capability to support the project through relevant means.

Agile has proven itself to be an efficient methodology, ensuring good governance, and providing clarity in the project specifications. As being driven by business vision, you can provide your team, stakeholders, and customers with a deep understanding of the end solutions and a clear path direction for the software development process.

Also, as an added profit, errors in the project are detected in the early stages and reworked, which saves time, effort, and resources. The above data make it clear that agile methodology is a potent one that helps you keep the project at bay.

We, as a top software development company in the USA, have successfully implemented Agile methodology across a wide range of projects we have undertaken. Having done so we have been able to complete our projects early from the proposed time and with more add-on features. We have been able to optimally utilize our resources to ensure 100% customer satisfaction!

Have an Agile Software Development Project in mind? Schedule a call at solutions@apptread.com