WITH NUMEROUS TEAM FRAMEWORKS BEING ADOPTED BY DEVELOPERS, IT CAN BE TRICKY
TO KNOW WHICH STYLE WILL WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
pace of change in the realm of software development puts pressure on developers
and the companies they work for to stay current, lest they lose out on the
advantages which come with progress. Among the methods used to do that are
hackathons and reverse mentoring at the developer level, while at the company
level, various methodologies are applied to achieve optimal outcomes. But just
how well do these approaches work in practice?
Eckart Zollner, business development manager at Jasco, says
businesses must recognise that software development is an intense, high
pressure task with a large degree of reliance on the final output. “It’s not
dissimilar to air traffic control. Developers are often extreme, individual
characters who flourish best in unconventional conditions,” he notes.
Be that as it may, those individuals still have to live and
work in the real world, in teams, and meeting the requirements of corporate
environments. “[Software development businesses] have to understand that in
order to stay successful, you can never stop learning and changing [and that]
has to be clear in balancing development with commercial realities.
Developments have to show success, or else the developer workforce will become
disillusioned and leave.”
Stuart Scanlon, sales director and marketing for New Era
Solutions, says frameworks assist in channelling the skills of a team.
“Bottlenecks or inconsistencies are picked up and typically that will highlight
a weakness in the team or a member of the team. With proper project management,
this weakness can then be addressed,” he says.
HORSES FOR COURSES
Tarkan Diraz, GM, Digital Marketing and Mobile Digital at
Britehouse says the common methodologies – Agile, Scrum and Waterfall – applied
by software development teams today are not mutually exclusive. They should be
applied on a ‘best tool for the job’ basis. “Each has its place; a business
could run some projects as Agile and others as Waterfall, for example. Some
projects may have a large amount of requirement changes in a highly dynamic
environment; others might have a fixed scope, deadline and budget. It’s really
about being able to assess upfront which is best for the job, each with
advantages and disadvantages.”
Zollner agrees. “Mobile application development for instance
does best under the Scrum methodology. Process technology based development
would use the Waterfall method. Embedded software usually forms part of the
Agile methodology. Sometimes a combination of approaches is used; a prototype
is developed through the Scrum methodology, while the final high volume
population follows the Waterfall model.”
While Scanlon reinforces that position, saying no framework
is better than the others, Sue Bramhall, Agile Consultant at Solutionsonsite
takes issue with the Waterfall methodology: “The only real benefit is that
management get comfort initially, thinking they have a clear delivery date and
things won’t change. However, inevitably things do change and often projects
fail at meeting their delivery commitments. To my mind, spending months trying
to ascertain detailed requirements only to have the customer change their mind
“HACKATHONS CAN BE EFFECTIVE
AS YOU’RE TRYING TO BREAK BOUNDARIES CREATED BY PEOPLE’S LIMITATIONS THAT HAVE
BEEN PLACED UPON THEMSELVES, BY THEMSELVES.”
Zollner makes the point that software development depends to
an extent on the personality of individuals, their team character and team
leadership. That overflows into suitability for the selected methodology: “Some
developers are unsuited to Scrum while others are unsuited for Waterfall
approach. Quite a bit of care has to be taken to ensure that developers are
matched with their optimal working style and capabilities.”
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Scanlon points to changing habits in the real world which
impact on how education and learning are taking place now and in the future.
“Learning needs to be both formal and informal. This means a blended delivery
of self-paced and instructor-led learning, or mentoring,” he says, adding that
social media is playing a growing role too.
“Hackathons can be effective as you’re trying to break
boundaries created by people’s limitations that have been placed upon
themselves, by themselves.”
Bramhall agrees, noting that most companies take part in
hackathons and ‘dev days’. Other means for advancing skills include pair
programming, test-driven development and personal development projects aligned
to company vision, she adds.
There’s some enthusiasm for the concept of reverse
mentoring, in terms of which the youngsters take the lead for older folk. In
software development, this works well, as, for reasons arguably tied to the
human condition, dealing with change comes easier to juniors than to seniors.
“Employees senior or otherwise involved in tech are always keen to learn; age
has nothing to do with it,” enthuses Bramhall.
His top tip for businesses seeking to meet the challenge of
finding the optimal ways of staying current with development methodologies and
learning approaches is just to get stuck right in. “The best advice I could
give is ‘just try it’. You’ll quickly realise what works for your business and
There is no holy grail, Diraz says. “I also wouldn’t be
afraid to take aspects from different methodologies and mix them up, so long as
it’s getting you effective sustainable results. Running everything to the
letter of the law won’t keep you dynamic and ahead of the competition,” he
Diraz highlights he has yet to meet a developer that knows
everything. “I learn things from my juniors all the time. If a senior isn’t
willing to at least try it, then their arrogance is getting the better of
them,” he notes.