By Kevin Dunne
The value of agile software development is too great to ignore. In a recent survey of companies that have adopted agile, 73 percent cited that the method resulted in a faster time to project completion, 92 percent claimed that agile gave them the ability to manage changing priorities better, and 87 percent believe that agile increases productivity.
Agile enables iterative growth in applications through constant planning, emergent design, a test-early-and-often philosophy, and a strong emphasis on continuous delivery. The resulting product sticks closely to customers’ needs as they evolve. In addition, it does all of this while maximizing efficiency and empowering developers to work at their best. With all of these advantages, you would think that almost every enterprise would adopt agile to increase their competitive presence in the marketplace—but you would be wrong.
In 14 years since the release of the Agile Manifesto, only 52 percent of software development teams have transitioned to managing the majority of their projects with agile according to the 2013 report, 8th Annual State of Agile Survey, by VersionOne. Why? The reality is that many testers, developers, and product managers are on board with agile and want to make this transition. However, they face resistance in the corporate culture and within management which is prohibitive.
There are three primary reasons typically behind this resistance, including regulations and compliance issues, time constraints, and lack of comprehension on how to go agile. The fear of risk of a failed transition is also a factor.
However, agile can be a number of things and is able to adapt to the varying requirements of organizations small and large, regulated, and unregulated. It accomplishes this through supporting individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, responding to change over following a plan, and enterprise-level challenges.
Nimble startups embrace the agile method. Without the drag of legacy applications and existing processes, most new businesses are able to build agility into their DNA from the beginning. Larger enterprises are moving to the agile mindset as some see the danger of being left behind. However, the larger firms do have a unique set of challenges, including quality assurance (QA) testing and visibility.
Most enterprises have large QA teams responsible for testing the product after development, right before delivery. A successful approach to agile means that testing occurs throughout the entire development process, including testing automation, manual testing, and exploratory testing. A large shift within the enterprise must occur to make testing nimble enough to make agile possible.
Increased agility often means decreased visibility and control at the executive level. While agile promises acceleration and innovation, it empowers teams to be more autonomous. This creates the opportunity for internal chaos if high-level executives demand visibility into every detail of product development and want to be able to visualize the result.
There is an answer to these challenges. The right testing software can manage and control all methods of testing leveraged in agile environments. An enterprise should consider a solution that records, annotates, and centrally stores test sessions. It should be deployable across both Web and mobile environments. This can accelerate testing processes, while enhancing visibility into agile testing for all enterprise stakeholders.
While the need for an agile transition is ever-present for large organizations, and while a shift to agile is workable and rewarding for these businesses, attitudes mired in the past still present roadblocks. VersionOne’s survey found that 53 percent of respondents cited the inability to change the corporate culture as a barrier to further agile adoption, and the most commonly cited reason for an agile project failure is a company philosophy or culture that is at odds with core agile values.
While it will not happen overnight, this mindset must change—enterprises that do not adopt agile will experience an increasing wedge between their builds and their ability to meet the demands of their customers. Smaller, more adaptive firms will move in to fill this void, unless the large enterprises can mold agile to enhance existing large-scale production environments. However, agile can work for the big players successfully—if they have the will to embrace new thinking. SW
Kevin Dunne is the director of product strategy at QASymphony where he collaborates with customers and industry experts to continue to provide innovative testing tools for agile teams. Find out more at QASymphony.com.
Source: “8th Annual State of Agile Survey,” VersionOne, (2013), VersionOne.com