Editor’s note: Paul, an Agile consultant at ScienceSoft, shares how his team helped an EU-based transport company establish the right processes to deliver efficient software with quality and at speed. If you also don’t want to spend time and money experimenting with Agile development approaches, consider ScienceSoft’s Agile consulting services. Our team will design suitable Agile patterns and guide their adoption for tangible results.
As an IT consultant, one of the questions I am often asked is “We implemented Agile. Why don’t we get the benefits we expected?” Embracing Agile is not just delivering software in short iterations and organizing numerous meetings and discussions. Below, I’d like to share our recent experience with a EU-based transport company – how two adjustments in their Agile processes helped to deliver quality software 6 times faster!
How It All Started
Our team of 15 IT professionals helped the Customer to develop from scratch and deeply modernize many software solutions – a website for selling tickets, a mobile application for buying tickets, a mobile application for drivers, an application for back-office operations management. On the Customer’s side, the team comprised 40 members. After about 4-6 weeks of our collaborative work, we spotted that the development speed was much lower than it could be in case of Agile and that collaboration between the business and development teams was not smooth. We discussed our concerns with the Customer and suggested implementing the following two changes that turned out game-changing.
Reorganizing the Team Structure
We started with reorganizing the development teams. Instead of traditional teams organized around functions like business analysis, development, QA, etc., we introduced feature teams that are more suitable for large Agile projects. Feature teams are cross-functional long-lived teams that pick features one by one from the product backlog and complete them. They include developers, QA engineers, business analysts, marketing managers, back office staff, etc. To help people grasp the changes and collaborate effectively, we assisted in establishing communication among people with different backgrounds and designed the necessary policies.
Feature teams proved to be a powerful solution to accelerate time to market. They immediately reduced the wastes of handoff, waiting, scattered information, and underutilized people. They also helped to significantly improve productivity, as end-to-end responsibility for a work item fostered motivation and job satisfaction. Another benefit that the Customer highlighted was increased transparency. The work of developers became transparent for all the departments. Everyone understood what functionality was under development and what was expected shortly.
Introducing CI/CD and Automated Testing
To achieve fast time to market, agility and speed should be present at all SDLC stages, not only during planning and development. So:
- We designed and established efficient CI/CD pipelines to speed up the delivery of reliable updates and changes.
- We automated 70% of tests to reduce the testing time and volume. Mostly, the team automated functional regression, integration and cross-browser testing. We kept manual tests for quick initial checks of newly implemented features and one-time runs. Such tests served to provide prompt feedback to the developers after hotfixes. Test automation engineers also integrated continuous testing into the continuous integration (CI) pipeline to run tests automatically every time a new change was introduced and support safe nightly builds.
Real Benefits of Agile Can Be Amazing
The initial release cycle was 2-3 months. After the introduced adjustments, all the Customer’s teams delivered new features and major updates every 2 weeks. And all this was without any compromises on the software quality.
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