Agile development has become ubiquitous in the software development world and for good reason. It helps teams work efficiently and iteratively, so they can react quickly to changing needs. But Agile methodology itself is constantly evolving. Our Chief Technology Officer Moshe Kranc and CTO Associates Phyllis Drucker and Alexandru Balmus share how developers can keep pace with the latest agile trends and leverage them to advance in their careers.
Why is it important for developers to follow the latest Agile trends?
If an Agile technique results in proven efficiency, then it can only help a developer’s career. Being open to changes, communicating a clear view on current progress and developing a closer relationship with the client are all results of following the latest agile techniques and will be beneficial to any developer’s career. Plus, if everyone is adopting a certain trend, having experience with it will definitely look good on a resume.
There’s an important article about career development by Jayne Groll, called ‘Skilling the Squad.’ It addresses the skills developers need to be successful and focuses on the fact that one area of knowledge is no longer enough. IT professionals need to become ‘T-shaped’ or have depth in one area but capabilities or breadth across many. Agile practices help grow that breadth.
How can developers stay abreast of the latest trends?
As with any other IT practice, there are two very easy ways to stay updated: read and get involved. Agile is a widespread practice with a large base of information available from books and online articles. At least two major professional associations (the Agile Alliance and the Scrum Alliance) make it possible to learn and engage with others at local and international conferences.
That said, once you learn, go for practices that have real-life-proven efficiency; choose a “new” approach only if it clearly (and practically) demonstrates improvement over existing ones. There’s no need to experiment all the time; if you do, be careful about generalizing. It’s always good to check the context and see what’s best suited for your situation.
What’s the best way to check the reliability of a trend before adopting it?
With so much information about Agile and other trends available, sometimes the best way to evaluate its reliability is to do your own research. Investigate the leaders behind the trend and how much and how deeply it is being written about. When DevOps and “The Phoenix Project” hit the industry, for example, one look at the authors and their background indicated that the trend was coming from well-known leaders in the service management profession.
But try to avoid being dogmatic about the requirements and ceremonies of a particular Agile practice; see what has worked well for others and consider your specific needs.
As Agile has taken flight, it is finding wider applications across organizations. What are some uses you’ve seen?
Project Management: Many project teams are starting to leverage Agile to break large initiatives into smaller units of work, similar to Agile’s concept of the “Minimum Viable Product.” This way, they can engage in smaller projects with smaller budgets and perform mid-project course corrections, resulting in outcomes that are more aligned with changing business needs.
IT Service Management (ITSM) Initiatives: In the past, these were often seen as very large initiatives that take a lot of money and sometimes fail due to their lengthy implementation times. Organizations are now using Agile practices to implement ITSM iteratively. In fact, the recently released ITIL4 framework has two Agile principles at its core: start where you are and progress iteratively.
Is there anything else developers should keep in mind?
Remember, Agile is not the last trend we’ll see in development or other areas of IT. It’s critical for IT professionals to continually educate themselves, network with others through conferences, and keep both an innovative and open mind. People who don’t read and grow will stagnate. Continuous learning needs to be a part of your profession, especially if you want to keep up with the rate of change in the industry. Innovation comes from knowledge and curiosity, and a professional’s best asset is that curiosity.
Ness offers expertise in a number of innovative areas, and our ability to help our customers implement solutions that make their businesses more competitive relies on having a team of people who are keeping track of current developments and inventing innovative solutions to address the rapidly changing needs of the industry.