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The Exciting Potential Of Agile Software Development

by Morgan McCollough, Senior Software Engineer

Morgan McCollough Bridge360In the first week of June, I made the trek to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to attend the Agile Development and Better Software Conference. The conference itself was only two days, but I attended a three-day Agile scrum master training class beforehand. It rounded out a full week immersed in all things Agile.

I’ve worked with a number of clients who claimed to have adopted Agile in one form or another. I’ve also read quite a bit about it, but prior to my week in Las Vegas, I had never received any formal training. The trip was eye opening, and it was a great opportunity to talk with people from across the industry.

What really became obvious was just how many companies are successfully implementing Agile processes at both the software development and program management levels. Some are achieving pretty dramatic results, with up to 30% shorter schedules and 75% fewer defects on average! However, learning the formal practice of Agile also made it clear how much dysfunction still exists, even in companies claiming the Agile moniker. Continue reading


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Minimizing Risk in an Agile Approach

by Phillip Smith

The discussion about which project management approach to use is irrelevant if the chosen approach is not implemented correctly. The IT industry, while relatively young, does have reasonably well thought out software development processes (SDP’s) that are mature and reliable. Taking shortcuts within an SDP is never a good idea.

Whether using agile or waterfall, always make sure your plan includes stable requirements, optimized design, and rigorous testing. You should never tailor out critical deliverables, breeze conditionally through tollgates, or attempt to support truly impossible timelines.  It is better to execute in a reliable and true fashion and finish the project the right way, with quality. Stated another way, project managers should never use a difficult timeline or a low budget to justify chaos.

For example: in an agile approach, if you start with a very large scope and parse it into smaller components, and then execute all of the SDP phases for a single component prior to going in to the requirements for any other part of the scope, you will be running a great risk.  The lack of definition of follow-on components, combined with the finality of having the first component implemented, will certainly lead to integration issues and rework.

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Agile Development or Traditional Waterfall Approach?

by Phillip Smith

Our clients rely on us, their IT team, to move them to a future state of better technology, better business process integration, and stronger competitive advantage. Our challenge is to get them there as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Facing up to that challenge means that IT organizations must look for better ways to do things.  New efficiencies can be found in many areas: staffing, training, monitoring of status, cost, tools, planning, and the list goes on. But here I’ll address the “approach”—specifically, the decision of whether to use waterfall or agile in the organization of your project events.

Project managers should avoid any personal bias toward waterfall or toward agile. Every project is different, and some will fit better with waterfall while others will fit better with agile.  The decision is no different than deciding whether to use a hammer or a screwdriver: you need to know what problem you are solving, and then reach for the correct tool. Continue reading