Waterfall Methodology may have dominated fixed cost software development in the past, but Agile Methodology is the wave of the future.
Instead of analyzing, designing, implementing, and testing an entire project at once-leading to a waterfall of client changes at the very end – Agile Methodology breaks the development process into micro projects. These micro projects then are developed, reviewed, and revised on a staggered schedule to allow the customer-review process for one to overlap with the development phase of another. The process continues until the project is complete.
In “Managing Software Development Projects Using the Agile Methodology,” presenter David Booth explains why Agile Methodology is the best project planning process for fixed cost software development projects.
From the start, he says, Agile Methodology engages clients. After the first micro project is complete, clients receive a tangible product on which to test their initial business logic. As more micro projects are complete, clients provide feedback on function, usability, aesthetics, and business use. Changes are then implemented and plans revised.
Early involvement is beneficial, Booth says, because it shows progress is being made on the project. It also enhances ownership and ensures buy-in.
There are some potential pitfalls, however. Such as:
A lack of understanding
Customers need to understand the Agile Methodology process and have the needed staff in place to ensure timely review and revision requests.
Already prevalent in software project, the Agile Methodology particularly lends itself to scope creep because customers have more interaction early on. The team must tightly control any expansion of functionality and scope, as well as weigh any changes against time and budget restraints.
Realistic iteration milestones
As the plan of action is developed, team managers should consult to see which functions would best be developed together, allowing no more than two to three weeks for development.
Clients should receive weekly project status reports and participate in meetings to ensure alignment. Booth also says a team manager should personally demonstrate each micro project, as well as highlight fixes made on previous micro projects.
While the Agile Methodology is more involved than the Waterfall Methodology, it’s worth it, Booth says. The end result will be a software product in need of only minor tweaks and adjustments.