4 Specific Ways You Can Benefit from Agile Practices Today
Though we like to view software development as engineering, we must also remember that it is a craft. It takes sound technical skills, a passion for quality, and an open mind to design software that is useful for customers and adds value to a business.
As long as software development is neither pure science nor pure craft (it’s the artful mix of both), there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success. Yet there are Agile practices that can help you produce high-quality products that benefit both your customers and your business.
There are many Agile practices but the most valuable ones for a business have proved to be:
- Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first the developer writes an automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces the minimum amount of code to pass that test, and finally refactors the new code to acceptable standards. TDD is your safety net. It ensures your product will be functional no matter what changes your team implements.
- Pair Programming is a software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently. Pair programming allows to increase collaboration, reduce the number of defects and get a high-quality output in less time.
- Collective Code Ownership is the explicit convention that every team member is not only allowed, but in fact, has a positive duty, to make changes to any code file as necessary: either to complete a development task, to repair a defect, or even to improve the code’s overall structure. When more than one person is familiar with each piece of the code, it allows the distribution of technical knowledge and reduces the risk that the absence of any one developer will slow down the whole work.
- Refactoring is the controllable process of systematically improving your code without writing new functionality. Continuously refactoring ensures the code base meets the most current needs of the business in the most efficient way.
4 benefits your businesses can gain by using Agile practices
#1. Flexibility to change
Thanks to Agile practices the technical team doesn’t get scared of messing up when changing the code. For example, TDD allows to run tests, identify errors in a short period of time and see how they affect the system. This is how your business can keep with the competition with a minimal risk to quality.
#2. Rotation of development team members
Pair programming and collective code ownership allow team members to rotate and work on various parts of the code. It also allows avoiding having the project stuck if any ‘rock star’ engineer is busy with something else.
#3. Avoiding having to scrap work in progress
As soon as you have the code completely tested (high-quality and bug-free), there is no need to scrap the WIP when you need to start working on a newly prioritised feature.
#4. Focusing on the most important project items
Agile practices focus on cooperating closely with project stakeholders and getting immediate feedback from them. In this case, stakeholders can be confident that the most important features are being worked on, and any changes, no matter how big or small, will be embraced.