Everyone gives lip service to the importance of using agile development practices, but it’s a task far easier talked about than accomplish. If you want to succeed, the best way to do it is by starting with a pilot, says Gartner in its report, “How to Run a Pilot When Moving to Agile Application Development for Digital Business.” Follow are the report’s main recommendations.
The report starts out by warning, “Adopting agile methodology is such a disruptive change that it often takes longer than expected for application development teams to become fully effective. This can delay the benefits of ‘agile’ and threaten its support.” Moving to agile development, it says, requires that all stakeholders be brought together, including infrastructure and operations staff and customers. And it adds, “Agile teams must build stakeholders’ trust in new ways of working and delivering value. Failure to gain this trust can impede or even stop further efforts to broaden the use of agile.”
That’s where pilots come in. Gartner recommends starting with a pilot of the right size, one with a scope “that a colocated Scrum team can implement in six months.” The report explains that “Focusing on a single Scrum pilot lets you work out some of the issues and mistakes that can follow change. Just as a novice climber would start with an easy climb, application leaders should start with a pilot that is well-suited to agile development, but not too challenging.”
Beyond size, the agile pilot, in Gartner’s words, “needs to have a business partner willing to commit a person to being in contact with the development team on a daily basis. This means that agile isn’t just about doing development differently; it’s also about doing business differently.”
Once that is decided, the right team needs to be put together. Look for developers with deep knowledge in a particular expertise, but who also excel at collaborating with others — a so-called T-shaped skillset. They should also have a passion for learning.
Next, choose the right metrics for measuring success, such as defect rates, time to fix defects, and customer and stakeholder satisfaction. Then, make sure to foster collaboration between all stakeholders by opening up sprint reviews to them.
After the pilot is finished, conduct an in-depth pilot retrospective. Ask and answer these questions:
- What worked well?
- What were the challenges?
- If we analyze the cause, what do we learn?
- How can we adjust the process?
- Is the process ready to roll out to other groups?
Finally, communicate the experiences and results of the pilot, making sure to include failures as well as successes.
Choose the Right Development Tool for Your Agile Pilot
There’s one thing that Gartner didn’t cover in its report — choosing the right development tool for agile development projects, including pilots. Alpha Anywhere and Alpha TransForm technology are ideally suited not just for agile pilots, but for full-blown agile development. It offers tools that let existing staff build business apps much more quickly and effectively and enables savvy business domain experts and IT departments to work together to digitize business processes and deliver tangible business impact. It also simultaneously enables IT to control data integration with systems of record, and data security compliance.