agile Discovery – What Is It And How Does It Affect Your Software Development Processes?

Why is agile development and value Driven Discovery valuable to your business? Have you sat down with a potential customer to discuss an Agile requirement for a new project, only to learn later that a critical misalignment existed in the shared understanding of exactly what you were attempting to develop? Suddenly, hours have been spent trying to figure out who did what, when you should have known better. The cost of such mistakes can quickly mount into tens of thousands or millions of dollars, if not dealt with in the proper way. The cost of the problems can also be compounded by hiring people to take on additional training or to head up newsprints that become undone because of the same problem.

Agile development processes help prevent problems like these from arising in the first place because they focus on a development process that is self-checking and self-evident. This means that as a team completes its software project, any and all changes that have been made are immediately visible to all team members. All team members are actively engaged in the discovery phase of the project because they have a direct stake in making the right changes.

In Agile development, each sprint begins by defining a “shallow dive” into the current problem domain. This shallow dive enables the team to establish a baseline of information necessary for them to determine whether or not the current scope of work is meeting the needs and desires of the customer. Once this shallow dive is complete, a second sprint commences that focuses on expanding the scope of work established during the initial dive. The second sprint ends when the product or service has been delivered and the customer is completely satisfied. In an Agile environment, a sprint review meeting typically occurs once every six sprints; however, depending on the particular software and the business, this meeting may occur once each sprint.

During the Scrum development process, product owners are allowed to configure a development process that is bounded by a set of constraints. One such constraint stipulates that a product owner can change a single element of a module no more than once during the entire development cycle. Because this rule is called a “limit”, each change is known as a “scoping change”. In an Agile environment, these scoping changes are referred to as “black holes”. Because a product owner can change any part of a module at any time, this aspect of agile provides team members with a strong sense of empowerment. This powerful sense of empowerment fosters creativity and innovation, two factors that are required in the modern marketplace.

While many software development teams practice agile development by changing one or two aspects of the process during each sprint, it still makes sense to test the product over the entire development process. This ensures that any problems that arise in the testing stage can be identified before they become a problem in the release. Additionally, testing helps ensure that any changes made to the software are effective and do not introduce new complications into the development process. Through the Scrum development process, a software development team becomes aware of the requirements of the target audience and tailors the software to meet those requirements. Once this is understood, a programmer can reuse the code over again without worrying about changing the code in a manner that may result in code migration issues.

The agile discovery process is essential for software projects that are expected to deliver products that meet the needs of their customer. By adopting a regular schedule and by developing a robust quality assurance program, a software project team can prevent the costs and pitfalls of releasing products that don’t meet expectations. This will also give the team a better understanding of the current marketplace and of what types of changes may be necessary to address emerging issues. This is particularly important for software teams that rely heavily on off-shelf software, because changing that software can disrupt the business.

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