Top tips on agile software development

By Devasena Inupakutika, Software Consultant at the Software Sustainability Institute.

It was going so well. Your team has just built the software it was asked to, but changing circumstances mean your product is no longer relevant. This is, to say the least, a problem. Your organisation has spent resources, time and – needless to say - money creating a product no one wants anymore. With that in mind, you decide from then on to make a transition to agile software development.

The agile approach has an edge over sequential development as it enables far more efficient and dynamic lines of communication, as well as safeguards against changing times. Yet agile is still a challenge to implement. The key is to start with its integration at the lowest levels of the project, and by following these top tips.

1. Break down complex code

Unduly complex code is often slower, more difficult to use, and riskier to improve. So save the team from extra work later down the line by the use of simple functionality extensions that can be quickly rewritten on a large scale instead.

2. Use automated testing analysis

Automation helps find bugs further up the development's life cycle, and helps catch errors before the Quality Assurance stage, which makes the process far more manageable. This provides a good way to feed in complex data that has to be precise every time with several repetitions. The robustness of automated test scripts also make testing of redundant areas in an application much easier.

3. Make quality your motto

Best results are achieved when quality control fits into a developer's routine, from the most junior programmers to the most senior product managers. More agile quality practices lets quality assurance perform end-to-end testing, even if some components are incomplete or unavailable.

4. Testing with sandboxes

Sandboxes are a great way to help reduce the complexity of end-to-end testing. This allows developers to re-evaluate the project’s direction at each test stage. There is also always scope to take the software in another direction as the team is able to test the code in a safe simulation of a real-world production environment. Since work cycles are frequently limited in time, the stakeholders are also given an opportunity to calibrate releases in real time. This inspect-and-adapt approach reduces development costs and helps organisations build the right software by increasing the speed of development and keeping defects in check.

5. Practice Change-based Testing

With change-based testing, project team can immediately see which components are impacted by recent source code changes and which tests need to be executed again for the verification of those application amendments or requirements. This saves an enormous amount of quality assurance resources and time that could better be devoted to value-added tasks.

In summary, the agile approach lets developers revisit their product release goals, which, best of all, still allows them to be competitive in a demanding marketplace.

Posted by d.inupakutika on 11 December 2013 - 1:41pm