How would you move a Mountain?
One plausible way is to move one rock at a time. Tackling one smaller goal at a time efficiently can eventually lead to the achievement of the bigger goal. To borrow an analogy from sports, it is like four biathletes running laps to win a long-distance race.
Completing an IT project is also similar to moving a mountain, or even winning a relay race. It cannot be done at once. But, small calculated efforts done with maximum efficiency can deliver the intended result. This is exactly how an Agile process works. It is a project management methodology that helps achieve big results by breaking down big projects into smaller tasks with specific milestones.
Definition of Agile Methodology
According to the Association of Project Management, Agile Project Management (APM) is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its life cycle.
The agile process is built on the central values of trust, flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration. Undoubtedly, these are quintessential values necessary for the successful completion of any task that requires a team together. This makes the Agile methodology a go-to option to augment the efficacy of offshore development.
What Is Offshore Software Development And Why Is It Challenging?
Offshore development is one of the four types of outsourcing. It is typically used by enterprises who want to build IT applications or maintain their IT infrastructure. Owing to the cost savings and operational flexibility, offshore development has become one of the most successful outsourcing models in global IT operations.
However, it poses its own unique challenges.
- Inadequate communication of project goals and deliverables
- Misunderstanding of project scope
- Misunderstanding of quality benchmarks
- Inadequate accountability
- Broken reporting
Agile project management methodology offers to solve all these challenges while delivering a better quality of work. Here is how it helps.
- Timely production of deliverables
- Heightened collaboration
- Goal-focused efforts
- Scheduled reporting
- High quality of deliverables
1. Timely production of deliverables
Agile follows the sprint model. A sprint is a short, time-boxed period where a scrum team works together to complete a specific task with predetermined quality benchmarks. The specific task forms part of the bigger goal that the project is trying to achieve.
Sprint ensures that the offshore software development team is able to focus its efforts exclusively on the immediate challenge and devote its entire efforts towards solving it. Such intense focus with a fixed timeline helps in the timely production of deliverables. However, this is also dependent on the efficient planning of the project.
2. Heightened collaboration
Agile brings all stakeholders of the offshore software development project together as a single team. No person is an island in an Agile team. Developers, testers, project managers, and all stakeholders are kept in the loop about the progress in the project, its immediate deliverables, challenges to be conquered, and so on.
Also, Agile puts greater emphasis on individuals and their interactions over processes and tools. This heightened collaboration ensures that there is room for creativity and innovative solutions that otherwise may not come to the surface while working individually.
3. Goal-focused efforts
In Agile, progress is measured with the help of milestones known as Scaled Agile Framework milestones or SAFe milestones. A milestone is a marker of the project’s progress. They indicate how the project has progressed since the beginning and the quantum of work remaining for project completion.
Depending on the project complexity, the milestones can be broken down as:
- Planning phase
- Designing phase
- Review phase
However, these stages and milestones are often determined at the discretion of the project management team.
The key benefit of using milestones is that the entire team chases a single goal with combined efforts. The unity in direction helps organize work and its quality in a better fashion.
4. Scheduled reporting
Once a sprint is complete, it is released for quality assurance. Upon clearing Quality Assurance, the task is showcased to the client for feedback and sign-off. Agile relies heavily on an ongoing feedback system. The feedback so gathered is immediately acted upon and is not postponed for the next sprint. This helps in maintaining quality through the project lifecycle. Also, this ensures that the client has a handle on the progress all throughout the project lifecycle.
5. High quality of deliverables
One thing that an Agile process assures is the high quality of deliverables. The continuous sprints, integration of feedback, and a time-boxed method of working, all lead to better work quality. It is no surprise that most projects that take the Agile route do not miss deadlines. They are able to meet the deliverables within the said timeline without overshooting the budget or timelines.
The fact that Agile demands stakeholders to collaborate at a higher level also makes it highly efficient than erstwhile project management methodologies.
In a nutshell
Agile methodology for software development came into existence in 1995 in Austin, Texas, US. it went on to reform the way software development teams work together with stakeholders. Today, it has become the default choice of working for IT outsourcing projects as well. Be it for mobile app development or an enterprise digital transformation initiative, Agile can get things done with clockwork precision. It helps direct efforts towards a single goal with an intense focus on quality and without overshooting the budget.