In this guest post, Sanjay Zalavadia from Zephyr explores what it takes to ensure that agile projects deliver on time and within budget.
The main reason software development organizations turn to agile methodologies is to facilitate faster time to market. The idea of "release early, release often" is ingrained in agile teams, making it critical that managers know how to support these kinds of endeavors. Staying on budget and releasing code on time is hugely important, especially in today's market. How do project managers ensure that their teams aren't spending more than is in the budget, or that they are getting every step in the project done on time?
Let's take a look at the top three ways development teams can ensure their projects are released on time and within the constraints of their individual budgets:
Project scope is one of the ways in which application development can change on a regular basis. The Agile PM contributor Kevin Aguanno noted that scope creep is something that all project managers have been instructed to avoid at all costs. It can add stress to the process - making it more difficult for agile projects to get completed on time.
"The reality is that business requirements change (on certain projects) and the resulting scope of work changes in response," Aguanno wrote. "There is nothing we can do to stop the changing requirements, and not much we can do to stop the changing scope. This is the same whether you are using agile or traditional methods."
However, agile methodologies are more suited to accommodate changes in the development process. Because applications are constantly being tested and checked against the customer's expectations, it's easier to incorporate new directions than it would be if you were using traditional waterfall development methodologies.
Every part of application development is related in some way. A Gartner white paper on the subject of scope management, for example, delved into some advice for making sure application development and deployment are on time. Namely, following a set schedule is one of the most helpful ways to stay on track.
When project scopes change, so do schedules. Because of this, it can be easy to get off track when so much is mutable. However, if teams set specific time-oriented goals and make sure to hit these targets, they are more likely to stay within the original time frames even though things are constantly shifting.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that the extra steps don't take much longer to implement is by using agile test automation tools. By automating the test step of application development, organizations can shave off repetitive steps and make sure their products are getting to market in a reasonable time frame.
It can be difficult sometimes to stick to the budget when it's set out in the very beginning of the project. When managers pay attention to schedules and project scope, budget management becomes that much easier, but there still may be lingering doubts as to whether or not applications stay within the set parameters. According to Gartner, optimizing application development and maintenance can decrease costs and keep teams on track to stay within budget. In fact, costs may be cut by as much as 50 percent.
"Most organizations tend to assume that the cost of ADM can only grow over time due to rising labor costs and the increasing complexity and number of applications," said Claudio Da Rold, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
However, Da Rold noted, when organizations accurately source applications and follow best practices with their development strategies, selection, negotiation and management, ADM doesn't have to break the bank. Among other things, this means that investing in and implementing agile project management tools can help organizations stay within their original budgetary parameters without cutting corners.
About Sanjay Zalavadia
As the VP of Client Service for Zephyr, Sanjay brings over 15 years of leadership experience in IT and Technical Support Services. Throughout his career, Sanjay has successfully established and grown premier IT and Support Services teams across multiple geographies for both large and small companies. Most recently, he was Associate Vice President at Patni Computers (NYSE: PTI) responsible for the Telecoms IT Managed Services Practice where he established IT Operations teams supporting Virgin Mobile, ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile and Carphone Warehouse.