In June of 2011, after several months of research and debate, NetWise decided to adopt the Agile Project Management Methodology and related processes. Though we are still continuing to tweak our own nuances and making it work best for our clients, this decision has proven to be one of the best we have made.
As our list of clients has grown over the last couple of years, we recognized that the approach we had been using throughout our history as a company was being strained. Historically, we would undertake development projects for new or existing clients whenever our clients were ready and our schedule was free enough to take on the deliverables. This meant that many projects were typically underway at any given time, each with its own set of expectations for delivery. Managing multiple projects with unique start and due dates, test cycles, and build schedules was becoming unmanageable as we grew. It was difficult to properly manage the expectations across multiple projects that shared no common schedule. Project managers and developers struggled to keep order on the completion and testing of deliverables leading to missed expectations and delays.
At the core of the Agile Development Methodology is a development “sprint” which includes a set of deliverables that can be successfully developed, tested, and packaged in a 3-5 week cycle. These sprints will include deliverables from multiple clients but they are managed as one “project” with a common set of start and end dates, testing schedules, and package and release schedules. Our team has daily standup or “scrum” meetings led by our Scrum Master. Issues are quickly resolved and the team is working much better as a unit.
Since our sprints are planned a few months out, it is also easier to set the proper expectations for clients as to when they will be receiving the enhancements in their software. Our clients seem to like the new structure and have been supportive as we perfect this new process.
While this new methodology has not been the answer to all the challenges of the development team, it has definitely significantly increased the quality of our releases, improved communications and expectations with clients, and enhanced our ability to complete projects on time and budget.