Agile Software Development Culture 101: Practices, Challenges, and Solutions
Focusing on speed without affecting quality
One of the greatest advantages of Agile development is reducing deployment time.
Challenge: Maintaining quality while keeping up with the deployment pace.
- Start measuring code quality early on. Our developers actively use peer reviews and code scanning tools to detect code smells, which prevents technical debt growth that ‘rocks the boat’ of software quality.
- Automate testing. Though time-consuming to establish, automated testing saves a bunch of project time later and safeguards the quality of evolving software.
Change requests are a given framework for Agile culture: their possibility is written in the project documents during the planning stage.
Challenge: Implementing changes without compromising the existing functionality.
- Move in small steps. Our developers build a CI/CD pipeline to deploy small code changes daily (verified by automated testing), which makes the process almost risk-free compared to the integration of multiple changes at once.
- Build a flexible architecture. Our software engineers invest efforts to design an architecture that can transform easily to accommodate changes.
Agile culture can’t live without putting trust in software development teams, which comes with a high sense of ownership among team members.
Challenge: With a high level of responsibility, employees may feel discouraged by any mistake made.
- Common responsibility. Our software engineers have shared ownership of the codebase, so there’s no finger-pointing. This promotes the culture of openness and mutual respect and helps raise accountability for the work done.
- Blameless practices. We create an environment where it’s safe to report a problem early instead of hiding it. In ScienceSoft, we don’t have time for blame – we focus on real actions while resolving any issue.
Understanding the business side
In Agile culture, understanding a customer’s business and targeted user experience is essential on all levels, including developers.
Challenge: Developers often prefer to stay within code only and don’t correlate their work with business needs.
- Share a business perspective. During the planning sessions, the team learns to look at features from the end-user point of view and doesn’t concentrate on time estimates and complexity only.
- Update the team. PMs arrange constant communication with a customer and on-site visits to their premises to ensure that the team stays on the same page with business objectives and introduces changes to the project promptly if needed.
Communication is at the heart of Agile philosophy, presuming intense cross-functional collaboration, both internal (developers, BAs, and testers) and external (a software development team and stakeholders).
Challenge: Communication, if arranged ineffectively, can easily turn into a source of stress and an obstacle on the way to achieving the development goals.
- Don’t use daily meetings for control. We believe that face-to-face communication is not as much for PMs to collect information on a team’s performance as for team members to discuss their concerns and acknowledge achievements.
- Implement project management and communication tools that allow employees to get a full project overview and reduce communication gaps.