IT Strategy

How to Implement Agile Software Development: The Complete Checklist

You’ve heard about it but how do you make use of Agile software development? See our comprehensive checklist.

An agile workflow is a type of development process that puts an emphasis on speed and short-term milestones over long-term planning. Basically, what you do is divide your work process into small bite-size milestones commonly referred to as Sprints. Here at Intersog, we take advantage of Agile software development to deliver results faster and in a more comprehensive manner. We break our development process into short sprints and then immediately test the results to ensure quality at each step of the way. Unlike the waterfall model, in which planning, development, and testing can take months and even years, agile software development allows us to deliver faster results, receive client feedback, adjust our efforts, test solutions, and move further without delays.

Agile development allows us to create dynamic workflows, fix bugs faster, improve the quality of coding, and customize the solutions to meet the client’s needs precisely. You must know that the agile development process is not a universal approach and you cannot just plug it in without giving it a second thought. Intersog has already helped hundreds of clients achieve their goals, and with our 15 years in business, we know exactly where, when, and how to use agile software development to help you achieve your goals. 

Does the Agile model fit your needs? Let’s find out with our comprehensive checklist.

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Reevaluate Your Mindset

The thing about the agile approach is that it actually bends the rules, so everything we say or include on that checklist is not set in stone and can be changed in accordance with your needs and the unique specs of your projects. So, this checklist for agile software development is a set of recommendations rather than rules and you should understand that when coming up with your own development strategy.

What you must also remember is that whichever course you choose, it is never too late to make adjustments and change the course. That’s what agility is all about – giving you the freedom to choose your own path and adjust as you please. So, whether you already have a comprehensive plan or not, just know that you can change it on the go thanks to the inherent nature of agile software development.

Choose Your Agile Methodology

There are several different principles for implementing the agile concept. You might be familiar with such methodologies as Scrum, XP, FDD, Kanban, and whatnot – these methodologies offer their perks but they are all based on the agility principles. Again, nobody’s stopping you from mixing and combining the features of different methodologies to create your own unique approach. 

Such methodologies as Scrum are especially popular due to their simplicity and efficiency when working on complex projects and developing large-scale applications. Before you make a choice though, make sure to research all the different methods and consult with your vendor to see which one suits your team better based on its structure, your business requirements, and even your personal preferences.

Outline Your Development Cycle

The methodology you choose will reflect upon the development cycle you’d implement, and it will define what your usual working week would look like. It is necessary to break the development process down into milestones that can be reached one by one. Typically, we opt for the development cycle that looks like this:

  1. Concept – what is your general idea of the software?
  2. Ideation – determine your requirements, allocate human and material resources, split responsibilities, assign tasks, and schedule the workflow;
  3. Development – developing an MVP, presenting it to the audience, improving its functioning, creating a compelling UI and intuitive UX, releasing the final version of the product to the market;
  4. Release – testing, debugging, and preparing all the technical documentation to release a fully functional software;
  5. Support – ongoing maintenance of the solution prior to and after the release date;
  6. End-of-life – removing the system from production.

These are the common steps used in most methodologies but the smaller sub-steps would differ depending on what kind of project you are dealing with. For instance, if you go with the Feature-Driven Development (FDD), you would focus more on the proper documentation for your project, the Extreme Programming (XP) model would include daily meetings with your team, Scrum would imply frequent sprint reports and meetings. Building a proper development cycle is essential for scheduling your development process and assigning the right tasks to the right people for maximum efficiency.

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Assign Proper Roles

The structure of your team will be determined based on the agile methodology you choose. For instance, if you go with the sprints, particular tasks will be assigned to individual developers during each sprint. This would allow the developers to focus on a particular goal without too much distraction along the way. Once you've chosen the right methodology, you can assign the respective roles to people on your team. If you roll with the Scrum model, you might be looking at the following roles:

  • Product owner – people who identify and prioritize product features, write user stories, manage the backlog, represent the end-user, and make sure the product generates a return on investment.
  • Scrum master – the person who supports the development team and the product owner by organizing the agile workflow. Basically, the task of the scrum master is to identify the most effective way to achieve the project’s goals and organize the workflow in such a manner as to achieve the desired efficiency.
  • Developers – this is a team of people who code, test and build the actual product. The team includes software engineers, UI and UX designers, QA and testing experts, and all the people directly involved in the development.

Together, these people comprise your scrum team, and it is important to properly assign the roles among those people. 

Communication Plan

There has to be a robust line of communication between the development team and the client, especially when it comes to IT outsourcing. Establishing regular and effective communication between the software developers and the client is an essential part of your agile software development checklist, which is also critical for effective DevOps practice.

You can create that line of communication using relevant project management and lifecycle tools such as Jira or GitLab. Thanks to the inherent nature of agile methodology, you can apply almost any solution to effectively manage the communication within your team. You can arrange daily, weekly, or monthly meetings, send emails, use project management tools, and whatnot – everything goes when you use agile methodology as long as it fits your needs. Stay in touch with the team, make sure they understand their goals, monitor their performance, and guide them through the development process. 

Choose the Performance Metrics

When it comes to the question of agile software development methodologies and how to apply them, monitoring the team’s performance becomes paramount. You need metrics you’d be able to track to know how close or far you are to achieving your goals. More so, metrics are also important for evaluating the contribution of each individual team member. You can track the KPIs of your development team by using the following metrics:

  • Cycle time
  • Code input
  • Number of fixed bugs and regressions
  • Number of completed tasks
  • Number of developed features

There can be more, depending on your project specs, and you must write them all down and measure them to properly evaluate the performance of the team. This will also help with audit as you’d know who of your developers worked hard for their money and made a real input into achieving your goals. 

Gather Feedback

You should have a feedback gathering practice in place to see how different stakeholders react to the project’s progress. You need to understand how people feel about the product you are about to release, so you should ask them directly and see what they have to say. Be prepared for some criticism as it will give you the chance to make improvements and create a truly amazing product your target audience is going to love. Shortening the feedback cycle is also important as you’d be able to make the necessary changes on the fly reducing the cost and time delays. Eventually, you’ll be able to build an extraordinary product that will fully satisfy your needs.

Why Use Checklists in Your Project? 

You can leverage the power of checklists in different aspects of your daily life, and software development is no exception. Here at Intersog, we know that planning is the key to success and checklists help us identify all the project’s objectives, outline them, assign the right people for the right job, see what needs to be done, what’s been done already, and where you are headed at every step of the way. We use checklists all the time as they make it easier for our project managers and developers to organize the workload, minimize deviations from the course, reduce time and cost of changes, and just make the work process more convenient to track and manage.

Though it might sound somewhat complicated, the basic goal of compiling a checklist is rather simple – just to check out whether every step of the development process is being followed and if nothing is forgotten along the way. It also helps with the delegation of tasks to the individual member of the team. The development process often consists of repetitive tasks like regular testing or coding, and the checklists help in keeping track of those tasks. It allows you to move from one milestone to another while accumulating results and transferring those results to the following steps of the process.

Your checklist might consist of as few or as many points as you need, and there’s nothing wrong with a list that looks too short or too long. Of course, you should not go beyond any reasonable measures, so try to make your checklist as concise and as informative as possible. Of course, you can look at the scope of your project right now and estimate like 10 points for your checklist, but once you contact your vendor, some of those points might fall off and other points might add up. It is best to compile that checklist in cooperation with your vendor because they have the necessary experience on how to implement agile software development methodology, and thus can offer an exhaustive list of steps to follow.

Bottom Line

As you see, checklists are paramount for keeping your agile project together and helping you manage the performance of the team. Agility does not mean you can just leave your project going without any clear sense of direction or let your dedicated team do whatever they want as long as they do something. Agility is all about giving you control and the power to operate under changing circumstances and adapt swiftly to meet your project’s goals. In fact, the agile approach would require a much higher degree of control and discipline than the classic waterfall model, which is exactly where the checklists come in handy. 

You need the power of the agile model, especially if you work in a volatile industry and a dynamic market. Let’s say you work in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) domain, an industry that evolves with each passing month as the innovations come about faster than you blink and let’s say you work on a complex project involving the use of relevant AI innovations. Over the course of development, which might take you months and even more than a year to finish, the technologies you’ve started with would already feel dated and irrelevant. To combat that issue, what you need is an agile approach that allows you to adapt and modify your development process on the go. That is why agile software development is the key to success in many projects, and hopefully, you can achieve great things and build a truly stunning product with a comprehensive checklist for agile software development.

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Intersog has been recognized as a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has been providing tech consulting, staffing and software development services for Fortune-500 companies, tech startups, and SaaS enterprises for more than fourteen years.