Organizational Agility: How are we doing?

Scott Abate | October 20, 2014 | Mobile App Development

How are we doing? What is the status of our mobile app development project? Whether asking these questions or answering them, today’s Agile software development teams are clearing away the confusion, raising the bar of accountability—not with status reports, but by using the apps themselves (working software) to communicate a project’s status.

For Agile teams, status reports are a relic of a bygone era. Traditionally, they have been expensive to produce and accurate only for an instant. These fleeting reports have been shrouded in mystery, often requiring keys to unlock the true meaning behind a collage of encoded numbers, colors, and images. And those managers lucky enough to solve the status riddles on-time were often stumped by contradictory remarks from the team that frequently discredited those reports.

By replacing the old, static report with a working app, Agile software development teams in the mobile world have found a better way to communicate status. The seventh principle behind the Manifesto for Agile Software Development states that “Working software is the best measure of progress.” It’s true. Agile development teams have found the best way to answer questions about status is to simply put the app in the hands of those who are asking.

For those who question the status of a mobile development project, there is no better proof than the app itself. No need to brush up your understanding of all the brainy indexes and ratios that have been traditionally presented on Earned Value Management reports. No more confusion around the quantification of subjective assessments that feed the calculus of Earned Value metrics. In fact, you can forget about Earned Value all together, because it is very easy to see how much progress has been made by simply using the mobile app.

By using the app, it becomes immediately clear what is working and what is not. It is completely transparent. No longer can developers say they are 95% complete and give the impression that delivery is right around the corner when in reality considerable work needs to be done. No longer will an organization suffer from ‘interpretations’ of accomplishment. There is only the empirical evidence: what’s working, and what is not.

The app not only provides an accurate measure of progress throughout the project, but may provide some early value as well. In most cases, the working app features can actually be used. And those tasked with reviewing app progress may also begin to use any working features well before project completion. Try doing that with a status report! The useful life of a status report is extremely short. But a working app is useful very early in the project and continues to deliver returns throughout the project, and long thereafter. By spending time building apps instead of writing status reports, Agile development teams invest their resources wisely.

In today’s development environments, it is very quick and inexpensive to build a mobile app. In most cases, all that’s required is to press Play. So discard that stack of obsolete status reports filling-up your inbox. And embrace the Agile way to find clarity, accuracy, and value when inquiring into the status of your mobile app development project.

Scott Abate

PMI-ACP, CSP, PMP, MCTS​ Scott is a certified Agile project management professional with over 20 years of experience managing software development projects, complex integration projects and professional services engagements. He has assembled, organized motivated and led several teams to predictable deliveries of quality results. And, Scott has coached several organizations through transformations and maturations of their project management practices using a contemporary approach of proven methodologies, measurement and effective communication.

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