Reining in the Agile Development Chaos

Michael Vizard
Aug. 20 2013, 12:00PM EDT

Chaos usually reigns within most application development organizations; a situation that in many ways has been made all that much worse by the simultaneous rise of agile development methodologies and mobile computing.

While the promise of agile development in terms of shipping more code faster is great, many developers have used agile development as an excuse to ignore any and all project management requirements. After all, in the name of shipping as much code as possible there’s no time to tell anybody what piece of code or module might actually be ready, or worse yet, what kind of form or condition it might arrive in.

To make matters worse from a management perspective there’s never been more demand for applications thanks to growing dominance of mobile computing. Most organizations opted to dive right into developing mobile computing applications because business users where saying they needed them yesterday. The end result is multiple teams of developers creating mobile applications for different platforms with little thought given to how to efficiently manage projects that often wind up creating duplicate functionality.

Looking to specifically address the rise of agile development and mobile computing, Telerik today updated its TeamPulse agile management platform to include support for a new HTML5 user interface that makes it simpler to manage multiple application development projects simultaneously.

According to Chris Eyhorn, executive vice president of application lifecycle management (ALM) tools at Telerik, the problem with most agile ALM platforms is that they were not designed to make it easy to navigate the management of multiple projects. That’s an important capability, says Eyhorn, when it comes to, for example, identifying redundant functions being created across multiple applications.

Eyhorn also notes that rather than imposing a comprehensive framework, a lot of organizations are going to be better off mitigating any culture shock to the development team by opting for a modular framework that can be more easily be rolled out over a period of time.

Whatever route to bringing order to the agile application development chaos an organization chooses it’s pretty clear that spreadsheets and traditional project management applications are not really up to the task. What’s required is an approach that allows managers to track project progress in a way that doesn’t burden the developer in way that results in them perceiving that framework being used to manage the project actually gets in the way of writing code. At the same time, however, very few organizations can afford to have dozens of developers writing code that gets delivered whenever the agile fancy strikes.

Resolving that inherent agile conflict may require a little more finesse than a new project management framework. But in organizations that need a fresh start in terms of managing application development projects, a new framework for accomplishing that goal may be the best place to actually get started.

Michael Vizard

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