Taking the Agile approach
by Iain Levein, Group Director of Comet Global Consulting
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Taking the Agile approach
Agile. Look it up in a dictionary and you’ll find it means ‘able to move quickly and easily, able to think and understand quickly.’ Try a thesaurus, and you’ll see ‘alert, lively, and energetic’ as some alternative suggestions. When you’re implementing an IT programme or software update, you need a way of working that is all these things. You need the Agile approach.
What is Agile? It’s an innovative, contemporary approach to IT solutions that brings speed and responsiveness, super productivity and rapid results. It makes traditional methods seem heavy and awkward, with their insistence on upfront schedules and predetermined outcomes. With Agile, small teams – a maximum of ten people – work in short bursts (sprints) on software projects. Small increments of the vertical capability and functionality are delivered at the end of each sprint, with the product owner fully involved at each stage and daily stand-ups keeping everyone posted.
This fast-paced, exciting way of working is perfectly married to the concept of near shore outsourcing. Constant, close communication is key, so working with a team which is a short flight away, or with just an hour’s time difference for phone calls, is reassuring. Issues can be raised and resolved almost instantly. Complex projects can be dissected into manageable chunks. You can easily review software on screen – not feasible with the type of time differences associated with offshoring.
Sprint periods offer a clarity of understanding that’s virtually impossible under traditional methods. Highly motivated team members work closely together to decide what they’ll deliver at the end of each sprint, guided by the scrum-master, who oversees the whole project.
There are some other clear benefits to combining near shore outsourcing with Agile:
• Projects are typically implemented in a third of the time and at half the cost of offshoring
• You’ll be able to access highly experienced technical staff with 15+ years’ experience
• The culture and education system in near shore locations like Barcelona are closely aligned to the UK, making it easier to adopt shared working practices.
Don’t just take my word for it – a recent Forrester survey shows that Agile speeds time-to-market, yields better quality results and enables early detection and mid-course correction of issues.
It’s a successful, interactive approach which keeps you informed and involved at all times. While offshoring makes the Agile approach impractical to say the least, near shoring makes it a pretty perfect way of working.