4 Steps to Decreasing Risks in Agile Environment
Today’s application development process is rather complex and the usage of Agile methodologies changes the interception and resolution of the risk in software development companies. In usual business oriented applications (that are not mission critical) it’s not reasonable to insist on zero bugs assurance, that was required in traditional methods. Nowadays, Agile methods force you to concentrate on fast, rapid iterations and fix bugs on the fly – looking to deliver high quality product. Of course there are risks in this approach and below we’ll explain how to reduce the risk in the process of agile development.
There are many factors that increase the software risk, and some of them are new technologies – big data, cloud etc. For example – cloud technologies enable you to develop and debug the software “in the cloud”, so your team could put some risky data on the cloud. Also, the team should pay attention on security, as the cloud stores the data out of the company’s premises.
Another risk comes from the inter-relations between software modules; some software components depend on the use of external services, such as APIs or authentication services. Your team has to predict the changes in these external APIs to ensure that your developing project will function well in all circumstances. This is also valid for the mobile app development, where even the operating system versions and the hardware variety may affect your project.
It is true that it’s almost impossible to avoid all issues and risks on a project, but it is possible to practice wise risk management to either avoid most risks or be prepared to mitigate those risks that cannot be avoided, no matter what.
1. Estimate the risk impact: The main reason for Agile’s popularity is the need for faster development process. Software development companies have understood that in order for their teams to work more efficiently, they must adopt techniques and tools that are proactive and adaptive. In Agile environment teams use 1- 3 weeks iterations, and in this period they go out to talk to the clients, test the developed modules, and learn what works and what went wrong. So, testing teams will also have to apply a different approach to testing (make it agile). That means you will have to estimate the potential risk in advance, and by the risk management you will focus on the business priorities.
2. Test the largest priority components: Testing and quality assurance is integral parts of Agile cycle, so you will have to adopt new checking methods within the testing process. You should not test all functions and units, and change the schedule; you should perform testing of the top priority components at first. Having the risks on mind – you can assign a risk rating points to each unit test, which will give your testers a hint of the risk level for the developed module, and potential losses, if the test is omitted. As a consequence, your testing team will spend more time on the application releases for devices which are the largest portion of the client’s base. By associating the development and testing with the business priorities, companies can deliver faster and more relevant results in the areas that affect earnings and clients’ satisfaction. Continuous testing of important application features will enable you to avoid expensive, global changes that could occur unexpectedly.
3. Development and testing integration: Today’s systems are becoming more complex and the needs for the interconnection and integration become necessary. Because of the complexity of the modules there are subjective problems within the clients, due to the increased need for development, support and maintenance. Also, during the regular processes of Agile collaboration and sprints – there could be miss-understanding between developers and testers about the pace of the new items releases. Testers should be informed on time about the potential risks for all modules in the new development; testers and developers should collaborate in understanding and planning the software modules, in order to deliver code that will lower the later impacts on the entire project.
4. Use automation and PM tools: In agile development – programmers often commute their code several times a day, asking frequent builds of it, additional configuration and testing environments. On the other hand, it is often against the wishes of the system administrator and can lead to a conflict, instability code, or even the entire system / server crash after the deployment. For this reason you should use automation tools, thus making closer and uniting all participants in the process of development and deployment, not only system administrators and developers but testers and end-users as well. Thus the system will remain stable in a unified and automated development process of quality software. To achieve this, there are some basic practices that you can use: automation, continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous assessment (testing), and monitoring.
You can never eliminate all risks and you will possibly never discover every potential risk during your risk management planning. You should spend enough time and money on risk management to intercept the possible risk occurrence. Also, planning for the relevant amount of time ahead (on risk management activities) in your project management software schedule will certainly help you plan for the show stoppers – the issues that come out of the big risks on the project.