Agility in software development at a fixed price

Insights» Agility in software development

For many companies, it is currently a determined goal to no longer implement their software projects in classic waterfall or V-model development methods, but to choose an agile project method, such as Scrum. Due to the significantly shorter release cycles of 2 to 4 weeks, the so-called sprints, agile procedures enable the fast and uncomplicated communication of changes. The obvious downside of this flexibility during the implementation phase is the risk of continuous rescheduling of the project to the loss of cost control. The project costs depend primarily on the scope of the project and are therefore often difficult to predict in the agile approach.

Since the seemingly diametrically opposed aspects of flexibility and predictability are of similar importance to successful companies, one does not want to do without either in the fast-paced business of software development. In software development and especially in user-oriented application development, the flexibility to be able to react flexibly to changes and new user requirements is required even in later phases and iterations.

That is why ReqPOOL, as leading experts digital transformationand specification of software projects, constantly asks our customers how it is possible to combine the flexibility of agile approach models with the fixed price of classic projects. agile methods for large software development projects. Through institutionalized academic research coupled with years of practical experience, we at ReqPOOL have developed process models, thus dissolving the apparent contrast between flexibility and cost control in a positive compromise. These methods are suitable for classical software development, but also for the development of mechatronic or embedded systems.

The core of our approach model is the methodical survey of the basic, professional requirements by means of design-thinking oriented workshops and work-shadowing. The functional use cases are structured and consistently documented in the so-called Scope document. The difficulty is finding the right balance between depth and width of the analysis. The breadth of the project must not be overlooked by a stakeholder or implicit knowledge, which would not achieve the predictability of the project. And just as crucial, it is not necessary to collect the use cases in full detail, which would lose flexibility. A professionally developed Scope document provides a reliable foundation for calculating the project budget in the sense of a fixed price, and on the other hand the necessary freedom for implementation according to agile principles. In years of practical experience, we at ReqPOOL have learned to meet a level of description that does not restrict agile implementation, but enables it to do so. In addition to the verbal description, graphic representations of the central processes, dependencies and interactions have proved to be an enrichment, as these create a collective understanding of all the persons involved.

The key advantage of this type of specification is not only that it creates a solid basis on which the budget calculation is based, but also opens up an interpretative scope for the flexibility of the agile to take place. Which also makes the well-known metaphor “a picture says more than a thousand words” true in the specification of software systems.

Insights» Agility in software development

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Christian Buchegger

Christian Buchegger

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