How to control software development with Agile and get the highest quality?

With the view of increasing efficiency, accessing a large pool of IT talents, relieving employees from high workload, and reducing costs, businesses are increasingly delegating software tasks. As an Agile software development process presents various advantages such as ease of product changes, close team collaboration, communication transparency, and frequent functionality delivery, many firms want to apply it to their IT outsourcing model.

Here at Arateg, Agile helps us be on the same wave with the customer, comply with the project deadlines, and create digital solutions of the best quality. However, what is the Agile approach and how does it work?

What is Agile methodology?

Agile comprises a number of iterative, lightweight, and adaptive methods of building software. The Agile approach is based on the following pillars: teamwork, fast changes, continuous functionality delivery, and close collaboration between the customer and an IT service provider.

Agile means that the team has the required skill set to create a digital product. Managers are responsible for assigning tasks and providing an environment that enables specialists to successfully organize the development process.

How does Agile work?

The development process is divided into short stages—sprints (also called iterations)—that take 2-4 weeks. At the end of each sprint, engineers demonstrate its results to the company.

Here at Arateg, we make a demo—a smartphone app that can be installed on mobile devices or a web application on the staging server—which lets the customer try the new functionality in action. On top of that, we share the product screens with the client showing what is ready.

Our team also holds everyday 15-minute meetings to plan the spread of activities and inform managers about the completed tasks.

Being Agile is not just words for us. Today many IT outsourcing agencies claim they follow Agile but their employees don't have a clear understanding of what it is. In our company, we’ve established a strong Agile culture.

First, most of our experts are certified Scrum masters. Second, we deliver new functionality every 2-4 weeks and collect the customer’s feedback to make changes on the fly. Third, we hold everyday meetings, so that each team member knows how the project is going.

Finally, using a range of communication tools and our own internal information system AraIS, we provide full workflow transparency.

How does Agile solve project issues?

1. Long delivery: the client can “touch” the product after at least 3 months of development

In traditional methodologies (e.g., Waterfall that focuses on the fixed amount of work) the customer is not engaged in the development process. After providing detailed requirements, the company waits until the product is 100% ready.

Agile, on the contrary, focuses on continuous value delivery. Before the work begins, our team estimates the work scope, divides it into 2-4 iterations, defines what has to be done at each stage, and sets up deadlines.

This approach allows us to understand when the desired functionality will be created. As new features are frequently built, our client can “touch” the product long before it is fully ready.

2. There are no detailed requirements: the client has an idea but there is no a clear understanding of how to implement it

In traditional software development outsourcing, the client assigns tech activities to an IT service vendor and then verifies the compliance of the end solution with the specification. This approach is about following instructions while Agile is based on close collaboration between the client and the vendor during the development process.

Providing high flexibility and effective cooperation through Agile, we build truly quality products even if there is no clear technical specification. The customer is able to check new functionality once it is delivered—every 2-4 weeks—test concepts, and give feedback. This way, strict and detailed requirements are not so necessary and can be supplemented during the project.

3. It’s difficult to make changes as the requirements and work scope are strictly fixed

In traditional software development methods, an IT outsourcing company delivers a full-fledged product after months of writing and testing code. However, though the final result complies with the requirements, the client may realize that some things could have been done better.

Or other issues may arise. Imagine: a similar product has been launched just before yours and gained huge popularity. Although your solution is almost ready, you realize that the current concept should be changed. As a consequence, the team has to rebuild the application or some of its parts, which takes a lot of time, leads to bureaucracy headaches and extra expenses.

In the Agile development model, you adjust the process of making software to the project needs. To ensure fast changes and frequent value delivery, we use continuous integration (CI) + continuous deployment (CD).

CI allows our engineers to instantly find errors and make enhancements, which contributes to rapid app assembly and simplified testing.

CD is used to reduce the time for releasing software updates. When leveraging a CD pipeline, every code change passes through automated tests. This enables us to deliver new versions more often. Thanks to CI/CD, we not only save time but improve the end-product quality.

4. Expensive delivery of features: long-time development is costly

Using Agile methodology that focuses on continuous functionality delivery, you can receive the early results several months faster than with traditional approaches. On average, at Arateg, we create UI/UX design within 1 month and a minimum viable product (MVP) including requirements clarification, design, development and testing—in 3 months.

Once the end solution is ready, we collect and process user feedback, learn what should be improved, and make changes accordingly. This helps our clients quickly get the app/website and save costs while receiving great quality.

Find out why MVP development is a perfect approach for startups.

5. Feature prioritization: you want to build rich functionality but it's too long, complex, and unreliable

Before making an app or website, our team creates a backlog. This is a list of features, changes to the current functionality, bug fixes, and other things that engineers may deliver to obtain a specific outcome.

Based on the customer's ideas, developers' recommendations, project road map, and user feedback, the team adds features to this list. As a result, the document helps identify the most important tasks, better plan the work, and gradually add new activities to the list.

That's why prioritization is a crucial element of success. When product features are considered by their value to the end customer, it’s much easier to plan each iteration.

6. Weak communication: it’s difficult for the client to control the project

Communication transparency and close collaboration with the client are one of the main Agile principles. When working together, you ensure that the end product will meet and perhaps even surpass expectations.

As the customer provides feedback after every 2-4 weeks’ sprint, engineers can make changes right on-the-go. Regular reporting also matters as it enables the company to always know how the project is going. Face-to-face meetings help both parties establish a trusted partnership.

Here at Arateg, our team uses various tools to set up transparent communication:

  • Zoom and Google Meet — for regular audio and video conferences.
  • Jira — for time tracking and project management
  • AraIS — our internal information system that we’ve developed to cover our business needs. This tool allows our clients to view daily and weekly reports, check arising issues, leave comments, monitor the project progress, and view task statuses at any time.
  • Slack — a messenger for business communication. We create a channel to discuss the project issues with the client.
  • Figma, Sketch — for designing apps/websites and collecting feedback. These tools let customers view prototypes, write comments, and discuss design directly with the team.

Thanks to daily and weekly reports, face-to-face meetings, and access to each specialist, our clients have full control over their projects.

How to make Agile work with IT outsourcing?

Software development outsourcing companies can and do successfully employ the Agile methodology to deliver great products. To successfully combine Agile together with IT outsourcing, find a trusted Agile software development company.

Pay attention to the following things when looking for a an IT service provider:

  • Ratings. Search an IT service vendor in the lists of the best/top/leading firms. This will help you find a reliable partner much faster.

    Clutch, the world’s leading client review and rating platform, has named Arateg one of the highest-rated B2B firms in Belarus. GoodFirms, another popular service, has featured us one of the best custom software development companies. AppFutura, IT Firms, WADLINE, and The Manifest also included us on similar ratings.

  • Reviews and testimonials. You can find them on the company’s website. See what customers say about working with us.
  • Experience, skills, speciality. Check out the portfolio of a potential vendor to see if it has the desired expertise. Take a look at how we delivered powerful products that helped our customers grow businesses and improve internal processes.
  • Pricing models. If the specifications are not detailed and the key purpose is to receive the highest product quality, Time and Material is a perfect option. Working in conjunction with Agile, T&M will suit you in the case of an uncertain requirements and market environment. See what other models exist and learn how to pick the best pricing contract. If you have any questions, contact us and we will help you find a perfect match with your software project.
  • Communication. After the first emails and/or video calls, you will understand whether you feel comfortable working with the potential partner or not. Take into account how quickly specialists respond to you, do they understand your goals, provide an opportunity to access Jira or other systems for reports and project management, etc.

    If you need to hold at least several personal meetings, choose a country, which is based not far from yours. Belarus, an increasingly popular IT outsourcing destination, is located just 2-3 hours’ flight away from European capitals. Furthermore, it offers a 30-day visa-free entry for citizens of 39 European states. Find out more reasons to cooperate with Belarusian mobile and web development companies.

At Arateg, we believe that daily communication and regular reporting are pillars of trusted partnership and effective cooperation.

Final thoughts

To sum up, Agile can be easily combined with IT outsourcing. Companies that manage to do so, obtain various benefits that involve fast changes, high flexibility, frequent value delivery, transparent workflow, a team of skilled specialists, which helps create a better solution while saving costs. Therefore, if your purpose is to launch a successful application that meets your business/end-user needs, you should employ Agile methodology.

We use Agile for many reasons. It is about high development speed, product quality, and communication transparency. That’s why it is widely employed for building the majority of projects.

If you have questions about the topic or want to address technical challenges, feel free to contact us. We provide software development and consulting services assisting our customers in a range of issues: the preparation of the project roadmap and/or software requirements document, choice of the technology stack and/or architecture, UI/UX design, programming, testing, deployment, and post-release system support.

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