Software development is a field with high project failure rates.
31% of software projects are cancelled before completion, and another 53% cost nearly twice their original budget.
That level of wasted investment isn’t sustainable in the long run.
For the first time in years, though, overall IT project success rates are starting to rise again.
Last year the Project Management Institute reported that global project success rates were higher than the year before, something that hasn’t happened since 2013.
The change comes partly from an increased use of Agile methodologies.
Compared to less responsive methods like Waterfall, Agile projects have higher customer satisfaction rates and are three times likelier to succeed.
What’s behind such a sizeable difference in outcomes?
Agile is an iterative approach where a large project is broken into “sprints” that each produce a workable Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or feature.
Sprints are short by nature. The average is two weeks, but anywhere from one to four weeks is common depending on the project at hand.
With timeboxed sprints clients know when the next deliverable will arrive.
It’s also easier to budget; pay can happen in smaller amounts throughout a project rather than having one large lump sum due at the end.
Clients and developers talk before, during, and after sprints to make sure what’s being produced fits the client’s needs.
End users are part of the discussion whenever possible.
This focus in communication results in higher adoption rates since stakeholders are involved from the beginning.
Transparency lowers overall costs, as well. Clients see what happens as it happens.
They have more understanding of how their changes affect the schedule and budget, so they can plan revisions to be less disruptive.
Faster Response to Feedback
A workable product is created at the end of each sprint.
Clients have the opportunity to test and offer feedback that can be incorporated as early as the next sprint.
This structure allows for quick response to changing business requirements.
Producing earlier MVPs enables early beta testing, too.
Having customers test drive software while there’s still time to correct any major issues leads to better outcomes after general release.
Earlier Identification of Problems
Bugs are very inexpensive to correct when caught in the early stages of development, but they become more expensive as a project continues.
Fixing an error right before release costs up to six times as much as fixing the same error caught after one sprint.
The Agile method emphasizes regular testing.
With every feature being tested and cumulative quality checks at each sprint, fewer bugs make it into the final product.
Problems are usually found at the early stage when they’re simple to fix.
Software bugs aren’t the only problems revealed through the sprint structure.
Problems with overall scope and expectation mismatches are quickly made clear.
Developers have the option to break a project into more sprints, change future deliverables to meet adjusted guidelines, or even put features that don’t quite fit aside for later products.
Responsive to Changing Requirements
Change is a fact of life in enterprise software development.
Requirements often arise after development has begun. For example:
- The software needs to interact with a new client database.
- After some scheduling problems, the client realizes they need push notifications to remind people of meetings.
- New regulations affect how data must be stored or transferred.
- An exciting tool that would boost app security has just been released.
This would be a major disruption to a development method like Waterfall, where a project flows linearly from beginning to end.
Agile projects are built iteratively, however. Incoming adjustments can be worked into the remaining sprints.
Costs are lower, too, as previous work doesn’t need to be redone to accommodate the changes.
Quality. Communication. Responsiveness.
The Agile Manifesto reads like a recipe for successful software development.
It emphasizes client-developer communication, quality control, and rapid delivery of business value.
For companies pushing digital transformation efforts, those are benefits that can’t be overlooked.
One caveat: Agile development isn’t an entry level skill.
It takes skilled project managers to make agile run smoothly.
To find out how Agile should work and how it can make your next project a success, schedule a consultation with Concepta’s experienced staff.