Waterfall to Agile Transition Tips

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Mar 28, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

At the outset, it looks like Agile methodology has firmly taken root in most IT organizations. VersionOne released its 2017 State of Agile Report, which says that 94 percent of IT teams use Agile concepts. Yet, the level of commitment to the various stages is not as widespread. How can you get a team to fully commit to the Agile framework?

The Rise of Agile

The Agile method involves a fluid software development process that adjusts requirements and solutions developed through the collaboration of customers and cross-functional teams. It's widely considered the pinnacle of software development.

 Agile methodologies are outlined in the Agile Manifesto which emphasizes fast delivery, adaptive planning, and ongoing evolution. This is underlined by the fact that 88 percent of respondents ranked adaptability as the top reason to adopt Agile. Here are the core values from the manifesto.

  • Working software is more important than documentation
  • Individuals and interactions are more important than IT processes
  • Customer collaboration is more important than contract negotiation and complicated sign-offs
  • Proactively responding to change trumps blindly executing a plan

As more developers practice Agile philosophy, testers shoulder an additional workload, due to Agile teams that now issue additional releases with undocumented software. As a result, more flexible test cases are needed. Agile testing requires more finesse when dealing with programmers and analysts and sometimes includes a review of planned testing approaches.

Agile Framework Minimizes Risk of Client Defection

Agile principles underscore collaboration, flexibility, and adaptation. It provides a framework to deal with an ever-changing world and flattens the development lifecycle. In turn, software teams have weeks or months, instead of years. to get new applications ready for production. The longer it takes to complete an alpha or beta version, the higher the chance that a competitor product will beat you to market. Another risk is that client priorities can change quickly.

Agile uses iterative development cycles where teams collaborate to produce a working version, show it to the client to get feedback, make changes and repeat. This minimizes risk by investing the client in a product they're already familiar with and gathering feedback early to ensure the working version meets client expectations.

Essential Tips to Move from Waterfall to Agile

If your organization is still touting the Waterfall SDLC, it may take some convincing to move to an Agile model. Here are some things to consider when moving away from the rigid structure of a Waterfall framework, which doesn't allow a new phase of development to begin until the current phase is completed. 

Effect of Changes on the Team

It's best to deliver the change to Agile as an organizational change and then address each team's concerns in staff meetings or focus groups. Have documentation prepared that addresses the reasons behind the change and discuss how it will impact the day-to-day work process.

Ask for the team's patience, let them voice their concerns, then make it clear that Agile provides the best options to keep the company relevant and competitive. Eventually, when they see leaders and stakeholders embracing the changes, individual team members will settle into the new framework.

Shift in Roles and Responsibilities

Some of the role changes will likely be welcomed by the development team. Agile shifts discussions away from a top-down model where requirements are presented as a done deal. By allowing for horizontal discussion among the developers, business analysts and the internal or external clients, Agile makes it easier to ensure the developers know what the application has to do.

Management's role becomes managing the process with all the players on the board and ensuring that feedback and actionable items are addressed. As the project progresses, the development team gains expertise on how to implement the Agile methodology to meet the needs of the business. When done well, this transforms the entire organization, since there's a greater understanding of needs, limitations, and processes, and perhaps more importantly, a chance for individual team members to build trust with the client.

Meeting the Actual Market Requirements

During the switch from Waterfall to Agile methodologies, the organization typically changes its tracking and development tools. The business and IT managers have to ensure that these changes don't jeopardize the deliverable.

Benefits of Rapid Feedback

When switching to Agile, the test team is testing right after development. The rapid response aspect of Agile requires the development team to be willing to make real-time changes that the testers need to be willing to test quickly, and so on.

This rapid feedback cycle is even more crucial when the client tests the software, and the agile method generates positive feedback loops that help guarantee the success of the project.

Make The Switch

The trend of moving to the Agile methodology has been on many company's minds, and some have already started the process. Before you start your own process, make sure you have the people you need to make a smooth transition. You don't want to be halfway through a process and have to stop production due to talent gaps. Consult with ICS to make sure you have the right professionals to make your transition to Agile a success. 

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