In a previous article we introduced you to the first three phases in a project’s lifecycle when working with Agile Development – planning, analysis and design. Throughout that post we explained that working with agile methodology doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, it can be quite easy as long as all partied understand the project’s lifecycle, the one constant that remains the same for each and every project. And we know Agile can be a bit scary, but A fast-paced world requires smart, fast, and accurate responses.
With traditional methodologies like waterfall, you don’t get that, which is why we have the agile methodology in the first place. However, keep in mind that just because you adapt to the agile approach it doesn’t necessarily mean that, from now on, working on a project will be all fun and games.
The lifecycle will always be the same true, but remember – every project is unique. So how you implement each phase will change based on your current needs.
With that in mind, let’s dive right in and start exploring the second (and last) part of a project’s lifecycle – development, testing and maintenance.
Project lifecycle in Agile – Development, Testing, Maintenance
Among all the phases, the development one, also known as the construction stage, tends to take the longest time. And this is to be expected, because it is in this phase when your planning, analysis and design come to life.
During the development phase, developers are closely working with the designers, to assure the final result meets the initial requirements and your expectations and at the same time, to achieve the highest level of functionality.
This also means that you may feel a bit marginalized since it is all about focusing on the coding part. But it is crucial for you to be there for your project and your team every step of the way, even during development, because as we always say, development works based on Murphy’s Law:
If anything can go wrong, it will.
So what you should keep in mind is that even with the perfect planning and analysis in place, things can still go array. And to tackle a situation like this, you can use a tool we also mentioned in part one, the MoSCoW method, to prioritize your features into four categories:
- Should haves,
- Could haves, and
- Won’t haves
By using this method you can take those features that are not as crucial for your final product and put them on the backburner, so your team focuses on the crucial ones. This way, you will ensure you and your team build a stable product that your users will want to use, instead of a poorly functioning product.
Needless to say, clear communication and collaboration between you, the development team, and the project manager is a key element not only in the development phase but throughout the whole project lifecycle in agile.
Testing, testing, testing
Many people underestimate the importance of testing and quality assurance (QA). But make no mistake, testing and quality assurance are not one and the same thing, and neither tasks are a waste of your time or resources.
To quickly differentiate, QA is a preventative task, while testing is a fixing task. In simple terms, QA is done from the beginning of the project and aims at preventing bugs and glitches. Testing is done after each feature is done, and focuses on finding bugs and fixing them.
With proper quality assurance, you can avoid the occurrence of too many bugs, which will make the development of your project smoother. But that doesn’t mean that testing is not necessary.
Aside from making sure the product you developed works properly, it has met your expectations and is in accordance with the early set goals, testing also ensures that the code is clean with the help of automated and manual tests.
Another important event in your project’s life will happen during this phase – the launch, also known as going live. Don’t get the wrong idea, your platform might be out there now, but testing is not done.
First off, you will need to test everything again after you launched your product – a little known fact is that once the product is pushed live, things may break for no reason at all. Then, you need to start testing your product with your real users – not simple focus groups or user research tests, but the actual market.
Basically, every product owner becomes too close to their product and create this idealistic image of their platform and how it should be used. But, while this is perfectly natural, someone who sees you product for the first time might see it as you do. And this is the point where customer feedback is a highly valuable benefit.
You may think it is an unnecessary step that will only prolong the project lifecycle but without it, you might end up drawing early conclusions about your product performance when it doesn’t meet your expectations. You might even end up pouring a ton of resources in marketing a product your market doesn’t want.
With proper testing, quality assurance, and customer feedback, you are on the best path to saving yourself from situations like this.
In our previous article about project lifecycle, part one, we indicated that originally, the lifecycle was comprised of only 5 phases. And this stage, maintenance, is the “add-on”.
But if you think about it, it’s quite logical – when you buy a new car, or a new house, or anything really, it will need repairs or upgrades after some time, it will need maintenance. The same applies when you develop new software, a website, or a mobile application.
So, what exactly is the goal in this phase of a project lifecycle?
Well, two things really:
1. As you continuously keep gathering input and feedback from your audience, you will subsequently come up with new ideas and features that would make your product even better.
Simply put, whenever you build a product, we usually call it a minimum viable products, or MVP, because it has the bare minimum functionality and is only meant to get your started. Once your MVP starts taking off, you start building on top of your existing product to enhance its functionality.
2. Without maintenance your product can become obsolete.
Technology is developing at an incredibly rapid pace, and tools w used two years ago may not be supported anymore today. For you, this means that if you build a platform and forget to maintain it and update its technology constantly, soon you won’t be able to update it, and will have to rebuild it from scratch.
A project lifecycle in agile development is something that, indeed, project managers and the development team are knowledgeable about. But have someone mentioned to you before, that you and your business can benefit from learning about the different phases of a project lifecycle?
It is easy to think all the hard work is over after the testing phase is done and the software is released. But your genuine goal is likely to maintain a prosperous, functioning product in a long term.
And that is the reason why maintenance is being incorporated in the project lifecycle. In order to succeed, it is vital to keep the process alive by constantly investing your efforts into listening to the voice of the end-users.
This means that when you get to know the whole picture – a project lifecycle – you will be well aware of what to expect along the way, which will only lead to reaching your ultimate goals faster and the journey will become smoother.
Agile development can be characterized as a flexible methodology that emphasizes your satisfaction and the satisfaction of the end-users. Compared to traditional methods, it delivers the final result in a fast way and changes are a natural part of the process too.
Project lifecycle in agile is something that, indeed, project managers and the development team are knowledgeable about. But have someone mentioned to you before, that you and your business can benefit from learning about the different phases of a project lifecycle?
So, what’s your experience with Agile Development?
We hope this article has provided you with useful and relevant insights. And in case you have further questions or need some guidance, don’t miss the opportunity to book a free consultation with one of our project management experts.