Seventhman Blog

  1. The Skinny on Agile Software Development

    "agile software"When the world took notice of Agile Software Development way back in 2001, misconception still abounds up to this day.  There are still clients who think that there’s no planning done, where developers just start coding right away.  In my years of experience in custom software applications, I have to tell you that coming up with solutions that will hit project goals, timeline and budget is something you do painstakingly.  While the model was developed to hit goals faster, adaptive planning is in the heart of Agile in an effort to encourage flexibility and adapt to change – faster.

    Agile Development: A Radical Approach

    What can be a more perfect fix for businesses demanding changes that align with their schedule and budget?  In the Agile model, you may see rapid iterations where new code is released multiple times.  It can be as few as twice a month to coming up with something new each day or by the hour.  By doing so, one can immediately get feedback needed to continuously improve the product.  The team may even implement crowd testing to make sure things are working properly.  In the end, the final product is almost flawless, with only a few, minor defects.  At some point, the testing cycle may seem endless and developers are pushed to their limits to write that code, achieve functionality and meet deadlines.  Call it the ‘Fast and the Furious‘ approach to coding.

    The Price of Rapid Iterations

    For the sake of speed, you might pay a higher price tag.  Due to the fast nature of Agile, documentation often gets left behind.  For example, there is a request to change a certain feature which could have been discussed, but may have been overlooked when rewriting this change in the user manual.  Also, there is a big issue when it comes to security.  Developing new codes doesn’t mean it is a secured code.  While everyone will discuss about changes during a sprint, I would suggest allotting an extra time to talk about a secured framework for developers to work on.  There must be some way to check for bugs as you come up with new codes – minus the risk.  This task can be automated though. But, what’s important is that quality doesn’t have to suffer for innovation’s sake.

    Agile: Separating Fact from Fiction

    Here’s how it works in the real world: Coders code, QA tests and technical writers write.  Management needs to be kept in the loop.  The catch?  Not everyone looks forward to daily stand-up meetings.  Just check the Web about it and you’ll read lots of rants from the anti-agile crowd.  Still, Agile is not a fad in revolutionizing software development.  It is adopted because it simply works better for many.  The only way to know though is to experience it yourself.  And if you do, be reminded that like other solutions – there are pros and cons.  Be warned, the risk may be higher if you’re not cautious enough.

    Agile is not all about implementing new methodologies and codes, but it is a careful analysis of complex business problems.. so you can come up with an innovative solution that works.

     

     

  2. Keeping Agile in the World of Offshore Outsourcing

    "agile outsourcing"Gone were the days of labor arbitrage as we enter a new era where finding qualified talent for your team is as quick as a mouse click.  While it is true that many businesses are looking offshore to cut down on cost, there is much more benefit to be had than meets the eye.  Those who were first to take a bite have now harbored mature offshore outsourcing relationships that resulted to an overall increase in service quality, as well as maximum flexibility when it comes to the organization’s enterprise strategy process.  Many of those who have been practicing offshore outsourcing see more improvement in their organizational agility as an effect of sending work over to global sourcing hubs.  But, innovation in this area is not without a multitude of challenges.

    The Immigrant-Driven Economy

    As I’ve been following the hot debate between Obama and Romney when it comes to immigration, I can’t help but wonder just how have these people born outside the U.S. helped in growing the economy.  In this infographic from Entrepreneur online mag, it will surprise you that more foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs are driving economic growth.. and the number is rising.  What’s more amazing is that they dominate service-based industries, regardless of the language and culture barriers.  There must be a stigma right now on local businesses taking jobs abroad, but I’m hoping that whoever wins the presidential race will not forget about the efforts of these migrants who are helping reshape the economy in such uncertain times.

    How Do You Play the Sourcing Game?

    While there’s news of GM bringing back 10,000 IT jobs on-shore, many other early adopters of offshore outsourcing may just follow suit.  Manufacturing is one of those areas where we’ll surely hear more news where sourcing is concerned.  But in this age of globalization where the fast beats the big, to survive the game, you have to multi-source… or simply, take the best of both worlds, of what insourcing and outsourcing can bring to your business so you can maximize productivity and increase your ROI.  As the adage goes, fortune favors the brave.  Many may still be reluctant to go local because they may not be able to scale their operations like what they currently do now overseas, like in India.  Investing in domestic resources may just not be a viable option for some.  Are you willing to take the risk?

    Offshore Outsourcing and Agility

    Some say that you can’t outsource agile for the simple fact that distance works against close collaboration among your team.  Can you really adopt an agile work process when it comes to outsourcing?  Though it comes with challenges, especially in the matter of managing people and technology, the good news is that it is manageable.  The core value of organizational agility comes with the right preparation, of taking baby steps, starting things slowly but surely, investing in on-site training, choosing the right partner, and having project managers who lead by example.  It’s all about taking advantage of the best available resources, onshore and offshore, that works for many successful teams.  In this case, we’re more likely to see hybrid sourcing models bloom just to make ends meet, as they call it.

    The decision is yours to make.  Experiment and Learn.

  3. How to Keep Agile in a World of Traditional Contracts

    "agile contract"In the race to meet the demand for something cheaper, faster and better – many organizations find it challenging that their agile practices are in major conflict with existing project management standards.  While consultants, service providers and software developers from various countries utilize the agile framework, you just wonder how things will work out, especially when adopting this lean concept to your outsourced project.  The fact is that there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all-solution where this agile practice is concerned.  The issue is not really about the nature of an agile project but rather, how everyone will transition to make the contract effective as they work for a common goal.  How do you really do it.. or, can you really do it?

    Finding the Right Answer with the Right Question

    Keep in mind that the concept of agile is an ever-evolving one and there’s no common definition for it.  You may read a manifesto about the topic, but it’s more of how you will all work as a team to deliver business value that matters.  In this case, it is important for you to have the same idea of what agile will be before you even sign that contract with your client.  The last thing you want is a mismatch in perceptions that will lead to frustrations and distrust.  You also have to be upfront on how you will get paid by agreeing on the scope of work or the ‘iteration’, and the price for that.  You will have to calculate compensation for extra work as well and make sure that the fee schedule is fair for both parties.  You also have to include project review in the process, like how will you get paid when bugs happen?  What’s the feedback timeframe?  Therefore, in order to achieve quality deliverable, you have to work on constant and consistent communication using technology accessible to everyone.. and make sure that transparency rules from start to finish.

    Resistance to Change vs. Responding to Change

    While contracts are legal reflections of people’s wants and fears, keep in mind that they don’t give birth to successful projects.  It is collaboration and trust that build the bond between a client and a service provider.  The trouble is, once a contract is signed and the development phase rolls, everyone is mixed up on what the real scope is and what constitutes a revision in the contract.  Is it the request for changes that leads to arguments where Agile is concerned?  Perhaps, it’s more likely about a lack of change.  Not everyone can follow these changes too and when new requirements emerge, old ones are overlooked and misinterpretations may arise.  Think of it as a beautiful piece of architecture – aesthetically pleasing from the outside, but dysfunctional on the inside.  Is it much safer to draft a contract the traditional way then?

    Agile Development and the Unconventional Contract

    When we speak of contracts, we often think about fixed price models which may not necessarily apply to work done by cross-functional teams.  Other than disputes, changing the contract structure can have legal implications and this approach is definitely not for everyone.  Sometimes, the simplest way to make sure that the process is least disruptive is to keep the plan from your customers, unless they ask.  Or, if your customers don’t like what you came up with, then, they don’t have to pay for it.  It can work if you have deep pockets though.  You may also have a rolling contract where your clients pay regularly in response to project delivery… the options are plenty and so are the risks.  The real question is how ready are you to make your clients sign that contract without having to define the project’s scope.. and still, giving them the assurance that they’ll get what they pay for?