e-book Living in an Agile World: The Role of Product Management When Development Goes Agile

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Method tailoring is defined as:. A process or capability in which human agents determine a system development approach for a specific project situation through responsive changes in, and dynamic interplays between contexts, intentions, and method fragments.

Situation-appropriateness should be considered as a distinguishing characteristic between agile methods and more plan-driven software development methods, with agile methods allowing product development teams to adapt working practices according to the needs of individual products. Efforts [should] center on the changes [needed] in the enterprise". In practice, methods can be tailored using various tools.

Generic process modeling languages such as Unified Modeling Language can be used to tailor software development methods. Agile software development has been widely seen as highly suited to certain types of environments, including small teams of experts working on greenfield projects , [37] [53] : and the challenges and limitations encountered in the adoption of agile software development methods in a large organization with legacy infrastructure are well-documented and understood.

There are many conflicting viewpoints on whether all of these are effective or indeed fit the definition of agile development, and this remains an active and ongoing area of research. When agile software development is applied in a distributed setting with teams dispersed across multiple business locations , it is commonly referred to as distributed agile development. The goal is to leverage the unique benefits offered by each approach. Distributed development allow organizations to build software by strategically setting up teams in different parts of the globe, virtually building software round-the-clock more commonly referred to as follow-the-sun model.

On the other hand, agile development provides increased transparency, continuous feedback and more flexibility when responding to changes.

Agile, Kanban & Scrum, Oh My: Which Product Management Method Is Right For You?

Agile software development methods were initially seen as best suitable for non-critical product developments, thereby excluded from use in regulated domains such as medical devices, pharmaceutical, financial, nuclear systems, automotive, and avionics sectors, etc. However, in the last several years, there have been several initiatives for the adaptation of agile methods for these domains. A number of key concerns are of particular importance in regulated domains: [73].

Although agile software development methods can be used with any programming paradigm or language in practice, they were originally closely associated with object-oriented environments such as Smalltalk and Lisp and later Java. The initial adopters of agile methods were usually small to medium-sized teams working on unprecedented systems with requirements that were difficult to finalize and likely to change as the system was being developed. This section describes common problems that organizations encounter when they try to adopt agile software development methods as well as various techniques to measure the quality and performance of agile teams.

The best agile practitioners have always emphasized thorough engineering principles. As a result, there are a number of best practices and tools for measuring the performance of agile software development and teams.

Agile Hardware with Embedded Software Development

The Agility measurement index , amongst others, rates developments against five dimensions of product development duration, risk, novelty, effort, and interaction. One of the early studies reporting gains in quality, productivity, and business satisfaction by using agile software developments methods was a survey conducted by Shine Technologies from November to January A similar survey, the State of Agile , is conducted every year starting in with thousands of participants from around the software development community.

This tracks trends on the benefits of agility, lessons learned, and good practices. Each survey has reported increasing numbers saying that agile software development helps them deliver software faster; improves their ability to manage changing customer priorities; and increases their productivity. Organizations and teams implementing agile software development often face difficulties transitioning from more traditional methods such as waterfall development , such as teams having an agile process forced on them.

Below are some common examples:. A goal of agile software development is to focus more on producing working software and less on documentation. This is in contrast to waterfall models where the process is often highly controlled and minor changes to the system require significant revision of supporting documentation.

Top 50 Scrum Master Interview Question and Answers - Scrum Master Certification - Edureka

However, this does not justify completely doing without any analysis or design at all. Failure to pay attention to design can cause a team to proceed rapidly at first but then to have significant rework required as they attempt to scale up the system. One of the key features of agile software development is that it is iterative. When done correctly design emerges as the system is developed and commonalities and opportunities for re-use are discovered.

In agile software development, stories similar to use case descriptions are typically used to define requirements and an iteration is a short period of time during which the team commits to specific goals. These should be added to the product backlog and prioritized for a subsequent iteration or in rare cases the iteration could be cancelled.

This does not mean that a story cannot expand. Teams must deal with new information, which may produce additional tasks for a story.

Product Management in the Agile World | Smartsheet

If the new information prevents the story from being completed during the iteration, then it should be carried over to a subsequent iteration. However, it should be prioritized against all remaining stories, as the new information may have changed the story's original priority. Agile software development is often implemented as a grassroots effort in organizations by software development teams trying to optimize their development processes and ensure consistency in the software development life cycle.


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By not having sponsor support, teams may face difficulties and resistance from business partners, other development teams and management. Additionally, they may suffer without appropriate funding and resources. A survey performed by VersionOne found respondents cited insufficient training as the most significant cause for failed agile implementations [93] Teams have fallen into the trap of assuming the reduced processes of agile software development compared to other methodologies such as waterfall means that there are no actual rules for agile software development.

The product owner is responsible for representing the business in the development activity and is often the most demanding role. A common mistake is to have the product owner role filled by someone from the development team. This requires the team to make its own decisions on prioritization without real feedback from the business. They try to solve business issues internally or delay work as they reach outside the team for direction.

This often leads to distraction and a breakdown in collaboration. Agile software development requires teams to meet product commitments, which means they should focus only on work for that product.

However, team members who appear to have spare capacity are often expected to take on other work, which makes it difficult for them to help complete the work to which their team had committed. Teams may fall into the trap of spending too much time preparing or planning. This is a common trap for teams less familiar with agile software development where the teams feel obliged to have a complete understanding and specification of all stories. Teams should be prepared to move forward only with those stories in which they have confidence, then during the iteration continue to discover and prepare work for subsequent iterations often referred to as backlog refinement or grooming.

A daily standup should be a focused, timely meeting where all team members disseminate information. If problem-solving occurs, it often can only involve certain team members and potentially is not the best use of the entire team's time. If during the daily standup the team starts diving into problem-solving, it should be set aside until a sub-team can discuss, usually immediately after the standup completes.

One of the intended benefits of agile software development is to empower the team to make choices, as they are closest to the problem. Additionally, they should make choices as close to implementation as possible, to use more timely information in the decision.


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  6. If team members are assigned tasks by others or too early in the process, the benefits of localized and timely decision making can be lost. Being assigned work also constrains team members into certain roles for example, team member A must always do the database work , which limits opportunities for cross-training.

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    Another common pitfall is for a scrum master to act as a contributor. While not prohibited by the Scrum methodology, the scrum master needs to ensure they have the capacity to act in the role of scrum master first and not working on development tasks. A scrum master's role is to facilitate the process rather than create the product. Having the scrum master also multitasking may result in too many context switches to be productive.

    Additionally, as a scrum master is responsible for ensuring roadblocks are removed so that the team can make forward progress, the benefit gained by individual tasks moving forward may not outweigh roadblocks that are deferred due to lack of capacity. Due to the iterative nature of agile development, multiple rounds of testing are often needed. Automated testing helps reduce the impact of repeated unit, integration, and regression tests and frees developers and testers to focus on higher value work.

    Test automation also supports continued refactoring required by iterative software development. Allowing a developer to quickly run tests to confirm refactoring has not modified the functionality of the application may reduce the workload and increase confidence that cleanup efforts have not introduced new defects.

    Focusing on delivering new functionality may result in increased technical debt. The team must allow themselves time for defect remediation and refactoring. Technical debt hinders planning abilities by increasing the amount of unscheduled work as production defects distract the team from further progress. As the system evolves it is important to refactor as entropy of the system naturally increases. A common misconception is that agile software development allows continuous change, however an iteration backlog is an agreement of what work can be completed during an iteration.

    Agile software development fixes time iteration duration , quality, and ideally resources in advance though maintaining fixed resources may be difficult if developers are often pulled away from tasks to handle production incidents , while the scope remains variable. The customer or product owner often push for a fixed scope for an iteration. However, teams should be reluctant to commit to the locked time, resources and scope commonly known as the project management triangle.

    Efforts to add scope to the fixed time and resources of agile software development may result in decreased quality. Due to the focused pace and continuous nature of agile practices, there is a heightened risk of burnout among members of the delivery team. The term agile management is applied to an iterative, incremental method of managing the design and build activities of engineering, information technology and other business areas that aim to provide new product or service development in a highly flexible and interactive manner, based on the principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

    Agile X techniques may also be called extreme project management. It is a variant of iterative life cycle [] where deliverables are submitted in stages. The main difference between agile and iterative development is that agile methods complete small portions of the deliverables in each delivery cycle iteration , [] while iterative methods evolve the entire set of deliverables over time, completing them near the end of the project. Both iterative and agile methods were developed as a reaction to various obstacles that developed in more sequential forms of project organization.

    For example, as technology projects grow in complexity, end users tend to have difficulty defining the long-term requirements without being able to view progressive prototypes. Projects that develop in iterations can constantly gather feedback to help refine those requirements. Agile management also offers a simple framework promoting communication and reflection on past work amongst team members.

    There are typically two styles of agile coaching: push-based and pull-based agile coaching. Agile management approaches have also been employed and adapted to the business and government sectors. For example, within the federal government of the United States , the United States Agency for International Development USAID is employing a collaborative project management approach that focuses on incorporating collaborating, learning and adapting CLA strategies to iterate and adapt programming.

    Adaptive project life cycle , a project life cycle, also known as change-driven or agile methods, that is intended to facilitate change and require a high degree of ongoing stakeholder involvement. Adaptive life cycles are also iterative and incremental, but differ in that iterations are very rapid usually weeks in length and are fixed in time and resources. Agile software development methods have been extensively used for development of software products and some of them use certain characteristics of software, such as object technologies.

    Some of the wider principles of agile software development have also found application in general management [] e. Under an agile business management model, agile software development techniques, practices, principles and values are expressed across five domains. Agile software development paradigms can be used in other areas of life such as raising children. Its success in child development might be founded on some basic management principles; communication, adaptation, and awareness.

    In a TED Talk , Bruce Feiler shared how he applied basic agile paradigms to household management and raising children. Agile practices can be inefficient in large organizations and certain types of developments. The increasing adoption of agile practices has also been criticized as being a management fad that simply describes existing good practices under new jargon, promotes a one size fits all mindset towards development strategies, and wrongly emphasizes method over results.