Agile Methodology VS Traditional Software Development

In the software development industry, there are two main approaches that drive the project life-cycle. Traditional software development, also known as the Waterfall method, is a linear and structured approach that relies on processes to accomplish the end results. Agile methodology is a non-linear approach to software development that adapts to changing requirements and flexible planning throughout the entire process. When choosing a vendor for custom software development, it is important to be familiar with both methods to determine which will be the best approach for your business needs.

Traditional software development practices can be broken down into four distinct phases. The initial step is to set up the requirements for the project and determine the length of time it will take to implement the various phases of development while trying to predict any problems that may arise. Once the requirements are laid out, the next step moves into the design and architectural planning phase where a technical infrastructure is produced in the form of diagrams or models. These bring to the surface potential issues that the project may face as it progresses and provide a workable road map for the developers to implement.

Once the team is satisfied with the architectural and design plan, the project moves into the development phase where code is produced until the specific goals are reached. Development is often broken down into smaller tasks that are distributed among various teams based on skill. The testing phase often overlaps the development phase to ensure issues are addressed early on. Once the project nears completion and the developers are close to meeting the project requirements, the customer will become part of the testing and feedback cycle. When the customer is satisfied, the project is delivered.

This linear approach to software development relies on structured processes and heavy documentation that guides the work done in each phase. The success of a rigid structure depends on the fact that all requirements are known before the development phase begins and that they will not change. This makes it easy to set schedules, determine project costs and allocate resources.

However, in the real world of software development, problems do arise and new specifications are discovered during the development phase. The traditional waterfall approach to software development does not provide the flexibility to address these issues without a great deal of cost and time. In complex situations, it may mean having to start completely over from the beginning.

A more flexible approach to custom software development is the Agile methodology. With this approach, the emphasis is less on the structured process of development and more on team collaboration. Instead of relying on documentation to measure the progress of a project, the goal is to produce working software in incremental phases before all requirements have been met. Customers and developers collaborate throughout the life-cycle of the entire project and are not restricted to requirement documentation and contract negotiations. Agile methodology is designed to address changing needs throughout the entire project.

With Agile software development, tasks are broken down into small increments called iterations which are short cycles that last anywhere from one to four weeks. Each iteration follows the same process as traditional software development does, such as collecting requirements, devising a plan and developing it. However, this approach involves multiple iterations to accomplish the total project requirements rather than attempting to follow a single development cycle. At the start of each iteration, the project needs are reevaluated. This allows changing requirements to be adapted even at the end of the development process. When the customer receives working versions of the software throughout the development life-cycle, this minimizes the risks of their return of investment and allows them to provide continuous feedback.

Despite the lowered risk of software development with an Agile methodology, it is not without certain disadvantages. Because of the flexibility involved with this approach, it can be difficult to determine completion schedules and calculate budgets for the project. The success of Agile also relies on the continuous collaboration with the customer. If the customer does not have time to invest in the process then this approach may not be the best method.

Understanding the development methods in place in the working environment of the company you hire for custom software development will have an impact on overall customer satisfaction. Both Agile and waterfall methods are viable solutions with proven success. If your project requirements are straightforward and unlikely to change, then choosing a vendor who uses the traditional method is a good solution. However, if your project requires a great deal of flexibility and continuous collaboration, than Agile software development solutions are the best option.

Hiring a Software Development Company or an Employee

In today’s world, many companies are upgrading their internal software or have the intention to build some type of software application. Many executives ask the question: should we hire someone internally or hire a professional company to create us our solution? At first, hiring someone internally might seem to cost less than the project price quoted by a software development company. However, in the long run, the responsibilities, risks and time involved in hiring that employee can end up costing as much as three to four times what it would to have hired a software development company in the first place.

Let’s start by discussing the responsibilities involved in hiring a software developer. First, you have to consider the wage you want to pay the developer. Software developers on average range in salary from $40,000.00 to $140,000.00 a year depending on the market you are in and the experience the developer has. While in some industries hiring the less expensive choice makes sense, this route should be avoided here due to the fact that this individual will be solely responsible for the development within the company. Based on experience, a good developer with the skill set necessary in this scenario will cost no less than $80,000.00 a year, or $40.00 per hour. If you are hiring the developer for a three month contract, at $40.00 per hour, your total cost will be somewhere around $20,000.00. Most developers are looking for a six month contract minimally, so realistically you would have to commit $40,000.00 to the position. If you are hiring the developer as a full time employee, then you have to consider benefits such as insurance and retirement, which could increase this amount significantly.

Salary aside, the hiring process itself provides its own challenges. First, the manager has to have the experience to judge whether the developer is qualified for the job and worth the money they are asking for. This means the manager has to take the time to test potential candidates successfully and thoroughly in all aspects of architecture and programming, since the candidate will be solely responsible for the development project at hand. In this industry, personality is a small part of the process as many developers cannot be judged on their personality; oftentimes, developers are introverted and this makes it hard for them to express their capabilities verbally. Instead, you want to focus on their skill set – but if the manager or company interviewing said developer does not have the IT experience to do so, the likelihood that the hire will fail to meet the company’s expectations is great. Once the hiring process is complete, the company will have to setup a management process for the developer.

My experience has taught me that all developers require structure, discipline and more importantly a manager who has the knowledge and experience to guide the project the developer is working on. With that in mind, a manager has to take the time to create a life cycle for the project which should include a detailed functional specification of the project and a general knowledge of the programming environment being used to create the software. The consequences of not taking the time of creating a functional specification and having the knowledge to lead the developer through the development life cycle will most likely be that the software is not created to the requirements and specifications of the company, nor being completed on schedule. I can’t express enough the importance of a manager having the functional and technical knowledge to manage the developer. This doesn’t mean the manager has to be a programmer; in fact, the manager doesn’t need to know programming at all. They do, however, need an understanding of the software development life cycle, requirement documentation and timelines with regards to the programming environment and the software application itself. With that knowledge, the manager should be able to supervise all aspects of the project including testing. The amount of time a company has to commit to hiring a developer can be enormous and the risks of not devoting the right resources and management to a project and the hired developer are great.

The risks regarding management, or lack of, is one thing, but there are risks in hiring a developer outside of management. The most obvious risk is the chance that employee or contractor will quit or leave the company for whatever reason. Imagine you have a 3 month project that needs to be completed in 3 months with no leeway in scheduling and the developer responsible for the project quits or gets sick after only 1 month of development. At that point, the company has to go through the process of hiring a new developer again, and re-invest the time to review the infrastructure of the application and environment of the software with the new hire. It’s been my experience that a new developer can’t just pick up where an old developer left off. Why? It’s not just the developer’s skills that become an asset to a company, but his or her knowledge of the application; when the developer leaves, their replacement must first learn the application and get acclimated to the previous developer’s code before having the ability to actually work with it, which could take weeks depending on the complexity of the application, the quality of the code and the associated documentation. Another risk of hiring a developer comes with the company’s expectation of his or her performance. No matter how thorough your hiring process is, oftentimes you won’t know if a developer is good until he or she gets a job or task done. If a hiring mistake is discovered after the developer has completed a project for you, this could result in not only having to redevelop the software but revisit the hiring process, both of which have the potential to cost a company greatly in more than just dollars.

A good software development company will be able to assume the aforementioned responsibilities and risks associated with software development on behalf of the company. A software development company has already absorbed the risks of hiring and will have a management team in place that has the knowledge and experience to oversee the developers and creation of the software application. A software development company will also be able to distribute the knowledge of not only the project at hand but the business process itself to a team of developers and managers instead of a single person; because of this, the consequences of losing a hire are removed from the process.

Software development companies can be an excellent choice for creating a company’s technology solution provided they have a solid understanding of the company’s needs. Without a solid understanding and knowledge of the company’s core business processes and practices, it is very likely the completed application will not represent the best interests of the company. Many times, the greatest time commitment the client must assume is passing the knowledge of their business practices and needs to the software development company. Yes, hiring an internal employee can greatly reduce the amount of time needed for knowledge transfer as the employee will gain an understanding of the company by interacting with them in person on a daily basis. However, the right software development company for the job will already have experience working in the company’s industry, thus having much of the required knowledge already. This will not only decrease the time involved with acclimating the development company to the business, but will also allow the software company to be an active participant in developing the software and make recommendations based on their previous experience within the industry.

Overall, hiring an employee may seem an attractive option at first, yet the risks and time involved in hiring and managing that employee may outweigh the benefits if your company is not prepared to do so. Employing a knowledgeable, experienced software development company that has experience in the company’s industry may cost more than hiring a developer initially; however, over time, companies invested in IT as a long-term solution will find that choosing a relationship with a software development company rather than hiring an employee will be the more beneficial route to take.

Processes Involved in Software Development Project

A software development process is a structure to be followed while developing a new software product. There are different types of process models having certain cycles or phases involving various kinds of activities.

Project Kick Off is defined as the initialization of a project. It is an initial plan or proposal describing the main functionality and procedure of a project. Project kick off also narrates the responsibility of the key members in a project, and also describes about the people who are in need of this project.In a nutshell, Project kick off is the method of producing a overall plan for a project at its initiation phase.

Requirement Gathering is usually the first part or segment of a software project. It is the initial stage of product development. In this stage, a thorough market analysis is performed in order to access the real demand of potential customers. Sales and marketing people are mainly involved in requirement gathering stage of a software project. Their analysis helps the developer to develop the software as per the current market demand.

Prototype Development is an important phase in a software development process. The developers first time develop the software as per their conceptual analysis and design with most likely material in this stage. Thus, a through evaluation of design, material, product structure is performed in this stage. Development is a very important stage of software process, where the software is being developed using agile methodology or traditional waterfall method. This step also consists of several sub steps. A traditional waterfall method is based on planning, where as agile methodology works on present feedback.

Software Testing is a pivotal step in any software development project. It determines the quality of software by several industry standard techniques. Software testing is a step to find out the existing bug in newly developed software. There are several testing methods are used named black box testing, white box testing, grey box testing and so on.

Production Roll Out is the next stage where the team of software developers works in full production deployment. In this phase, all of the conceptual designs are tested and modified or refined by implementing in a pilot project. During this phase, testing and other associated supportive activity also have an importance in order to validate the iterative cycles of production deployment.

Knowledge Transfer is another vital aspect of a software process. Knowledge transfer and training go hand by hand in a process. An assessment is needed to conduct among the key workers in a project ensuring their capability while undertaking a particular area of implementation in a software project. A training material is crafted under the guidance of the experts and approved after a through scrutiny. This quality training material is distributed to the key players in the project and the knowledge is transferred as per the project requirement in order to implement the knowledge in different modules of product development.

Post Deployment Software Support is another critical step in a software development process. It is almost essential to provide quality support for the newly implemented software and to trouble shoot the possible problems.

Altisnet follow all these steps with a scientific approach and with a technology driven manner. We are confident to provide you the best product development solution. We have created a dedicated development environment, Quality assurance environment, stage environment and production environment to maintain the industry standard in the software development process.