Agile software development in time of remote: How to make it work

Agile software development in time of remote: How to make it work
N-iX
2020-06-03T19:59:00+00:00

With the virus outbreak, companies across the globe are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Amid this new reality, Agile is seen as one of the powerful tools.  However, remote work has created specific challenges for Agile processes, and many businesses find it challengin...

Agile software development in time of remote: How to make it work
By Khrystyna Zabor June 03, 2020

With the virus outbreak, companies across the globe are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Amid this new reality, Agile is seen as one of the powerful tools. 

However, remote work has created specific challenges for Agile processes, and many businesses find it challenging to run effective Agile development teams in the Work-From-Home mode.

Though Agile works best with face-to-face communication, it can work great in the remote environment as well. In fact, as reported by CollabNet, 78% of respondents practice agile with team members not colocated and succeed at it. However, to make it truly effective, you can’t just use common techniques of Agile and apply them to the remote work mode. You need to adapt. 

IT outsourcing companies have years of experience of adjusting Agile to the remote environment, and building processes and tools to run effective distributed Agile teams.

That’s why the expertise of an experienced Agile outsourcing provider can help you a lot with building and managing your remote software development team.

What are the benefits of Agile software development outsourcing in the time of uncertainty? What are its top challenges in the time of remote? And how to overcome them and effectively manage Agile distributed teams? 

Find out the answers to these and many other questions. 

5 benefits of Agile software development outsourcing

Gartner has surveyed IT and IT/business professionals on their Agile software development adoption. According to the survey, 59% of businesses that have adopted Agile approach report the enhanced ability to manage changed priorities and 58% point out accelerated product delivery.

Agile management is touted as one of the best work methodologies, especially in the time of uncertainty, when you need to adapt and respond to changes quickly. Sprint planning, daily stand-ups, demo sessions, retrospectives, backlog grooming make work more manageable and productive.

Agile software development is based on three key concepts: value, adaptability, and visibility.

  • Value is enhanced as a result of continuous planning and feedback, which allows for constant improvement of the product;

     

  • Adaptability is achieved through iterative planning: an agile software development team is able to adjust the software product to the current business needs;

     

  • Visibility is reached as a result of constant software testing, which helps to monitor and improve the quality of software at each stage of the development.

     

Agile offers flexibility and the methodology was designed to adapt effectively to changes and respond quickly to challenges. 

Agile software development: benefits

Agile software development outsourcing brings benefits that are critical in the time of lockdown. Here are some of them:

  1. Accelerated product delivery

In the time of remote, your Agile development team can be dispersed across multiple business locations. This work mode is usually referred to as distributed agile development. This approach helps to build software around the clock, thus accelerating product delivery.

Thanks to constant planning and fixed sprints, your agile software development team is able to deliver new features quickly, regularly, and with a high level of predictability. 

  1. Enhanced ability to manage changing priorities

Flexibility is of prime importance now, as businesses need to respond to changes quickly to survive the crisis. So, one of the crucial benefits of Agile software development outsourcing is the ability to adapt and introduce changes on the fly. 

An Agile software development team can stay focused on delivering the product’s features, but there is also a possibility of refining and reprioritizing the overall product backlog. Within the Agile software development model, it is possible to introduce changes and new features in a few weeks.

  1. Improved Quality

Agile software development entails splitting the project into smaller, manageable units that helps to conduct testing and reviews at each iteration. So, it is easier to detect and fix defects at an early stage of development. that brings us to the next important benefit:

  1. Reduced costs 

The cost of a bug depends on the phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC). The cost of fixing can multiply 100 times between the phases, according to the IBM study. So, due to the constant quality monitoring in Agile software development, the project cost can go down significantly. 

  1. Better cost and time predictability 

Also, before each sprint, an Agile development team estimates how much time it will take to develop a certain feature. Because there is a fixed number of working hours in each sprint, it is easier to estimate the cost of the features. Thus, the cost is also more predictable in Agile software development outsourcing.

4 challenges of distributed Agile software development and how to overcome them

The remote environment creates challenges for Agile software development teams. Disrupting a team’s continuous alignment, limiting interactions, and others threaten to drive productivity down. What’s more, work from home amplifies any previous lack of clarity in roles, responsibilities, and objectives. 

Remote work on a global scale is a challenge we all face, and Agile processes can be adjusted to overcome it successfully.

For instance, in the time of remote, it is recommended to work in smaller agile teams to achieve maximum efficiency. According to McKinsey research, quality and schedule adherence is higher with project teams of ten to 15 people. Also, Agile distributed teams need to focus even more on prioritizing and expanding the use of technology that promotes effective collaboration. 

So, what are the key challenges and how to overcome the key challenges effectively?

challenges of agile software development

  1. Access to resources

As far as software development is concerned, there are two types of resources: physical and digital ones. Physical resources include both hardware (laptops, chargers, etc.) and software (code editors, integrated development environment, etc.). Digital resources are, for instance, code repositories, office suites, IT support portals, etc.

Agile software development teams need access to both types of these sources. To address this challenge in the time of remote, you and your Agile outsourcing provider need to check and extend the licenses for the sources used, as well as give the employees the necessary credentials to access resources remotely. To find out how to do it securely - read the article

  1. Communication 

Effective, smooth, and timely communication is the key to productivity and mature Agile processes. In the time of the remote work mode, when face-to-face communication is hardly possible, there are certain rules to follow to ensure clear and productive communication.

  1. Establishing communication channels

     

An Agile development team needs to be responsive and available to react quickly to any changes announced. So, it is vital to establish communication channels so that the developers stay in the loop with the latest updates. It is essential to expand the use of technology that promotes effective collaboration. Here are some examples of the channels and tools that our Agile software development teams use to ensure effective communication: 

collaboration tools that help with Agile software development

  1. Keeping availability transparent 

     

The response time of all team members needs to be clarified. If there are certain hours when someone cannot respond, the time must be blocked out in the calendar, and it should be announced ahead of time.  

  1. Taking stock of all communications

As far as communication is concerned, it is a good idea to call instead of writing. This will speed up the process, as voice communication and video calls take way less time than instant messaging. 

  1. Setting goals clearly and prioritizing

At the time of remote, it is especially important for all members of the Agile development team to see the whole picture of the project. As the work is divided into smaller parts, it is vital to communicate clearly what your goals and expectations are. 

To address this challenge, make sure that goals are clear and unambiguous. In Agile software development outsourcing, it is recommended to implement a measurement system that clarifies objectives and key results. 

  1. Physical distance

We have mentioned that the Agile approach is compatible with distributed team management. However, the physical distance among team members who work remotely and especially those who work in different locations and time zones can make collaboration challenging.

Here are some rules that we follow to promote the success of cross-boundary collaboration of distributed teams:

  1. Reminding teams to facilitate the group’s relationships, not just the team outputs;

     

  2. Establishing a shared understanding of the work results;

     

  3. Recognizing and acknowledging the challenges that physical distance brings, and using appropriate tools to overcome them.

     

  4. Encouraging remote team leaders to make meetings feel less virtual by using technology to create real-time connections.

     

How to choose an Agile outsourcing provider?

Finding a reliable Agile software development vendor is rather challenging, so we have compiled a list of key points that will help you to choose the right vendor.

  1. Pay attention to the company’s communication culture

     

An Agile software development outsourcing partner is interested in the client’s long-term success. Choose the provider that takes effort to understand your business needs, sets up extra calls with you and sends you follow-ups. The ambition of a vendor to clarify with you all the details and nuances ensures the success of your partnership in the long run.

  1. Check if the vendor has established Agile processes

     

Browse through the references and client testimonials of your potential partners on their websites, LinkedIn accounts, and Clutch.co profiles. For instance, on Clutch.co you can find out how successful the cooperation with this vendor was for other companies, what are the vendor’s areas of expertise, what difficulties other clients were facing, etc. 

Here is an example of the client reference on Clutch. 

“N-iX is highly skilled, transparent, and very well structured. They're one of the best outsourced teams I've ever worked with. The Agile, scrum and sprint process they undertake and manage gives us clear visibility on our progress regarding deliverables at any point in time. They excelled in all aspects of project management.” Principle Engineer, Agri-Services Group

  1. Check the company’s certifications and industry recognition

     

Agile software development provider has certified professionals, such as Scrum Masters, Scrum Professionals or Scrum Product Owners. Also, reliable vendors are usually recognized by GSA UK Awards, Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP, Clutch.co, or other awards for their outsourcing performance and competency

  1. Choose an agile yet well-structured company

     

Last but not least, choose an experienced partner, as it means that the company boasts streamlined and mature business processes. 

Also, keep in mind that midsize or large companies have a higher capacity to meet your business requirements. However, opt for a company with a clear hierarchy and low level of bureaucracy to promote maximum efficiency.

  1. Look through the provider’s DevOps expertise

     

McKinsey states that on average engineering and infrastructure teams deliver projects according to their original project estimates only 20 per cent of the time. DevOps is a way to tackle this issue by optimizing the development and deployment processes. 

Leveraging DevOps brings benefits such as enhanced visibility of the project progress, reduced bootstrap time for new projects, increased development efficiency, etc.. 

For instance, N-iX DevOps engineers enhance progress visibility by building and deploying software in stages with fully automated deployment cycles (CI/CD). 

Development efficiency is achieved by standardized software development environments with automated deployments that allow your team to focus on their tasks. 

To know more about the benefits of DevOps outsourcing - read the article

  1. Take into account cultural compatibility

     

In the time of remote, fear of miscommunication is very common, as it may affect work productivity. Cultural differences are among the factors that influence communication directly. So, look for a provider that is close to your culture, communication style, and work ethic.

How to choose an Agile software development provider?

Why choose N-iX as your Agile software development partner?

  1. N-iX has over 18 years of experience in the global IT market. We are skilled in using Agile methodologies and practices, which are perfect for managing remote teams;
  2. Our Agile software  development teams have experience working with various collaboration and communication tools to integrate smoothly with the clients' processes as well as to ensure maximum productivity;
  3. N-iX Information security management system is certified to meet ISO 27001:2013, and other security compliances;
  4. N-iX is well-known in the IT market and was recognized by GSA UK 2019 Awards, Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP, and many others. 

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By Khrystyna Zabor June 03, 2020

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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European provider of software development services with 1000+ expert software engineers onboard that power innovative technology businesses. Since 2002 we have formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders including OpenText, Novell, Lebara, Currencycloud and over 50 other medium and large-scale businesses. With delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, and Belarus, we deliver excellence in software engineering and deep expertise in a range of verticals including finance, healthcare, hospitality, telecom, energy and enterprise content management helping our clients to innovate and implement technology transformations.

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