Survey reveals the Application Development Process still needs Improvement

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Even with Agile and DevOps becoming more popular within the software development community, the application engineering process remains clunky. This is the lead finding of a recent survey of IT managers responsible for the SDLC. Frankly, is that conclusion all that surprising with network administrators now complaining about software teams dominating DevOps?

Let’s dive into the details of the survey to see what meaningful information lies within. Maybe your software team gains a new sense of direction on how to make the entire development process more efficient? Good luck!

 

Nearly All IT Managers complain about Inefficient Software Development

The integration software company, MuleSoft recently surveyed 650 IT managers on a variety of topics related to application development. ZDNet summarized the survey’s findings in an article published earlier this week. This information definitely provides some food for thought for anyone working in the software engineering industry.

Somewhat surprisingly, 93 percent of those surveyed feel their organization’s software development efforts “could be more efficient.” They feel the process suffers from being clunky, which makes successful integration more difficult. This problem becomes exacerbated in the increasingly complex environment of the modern business landscape.

Another data point leading to this perception of inefficiency is the 83 percent who feel their company fails to reuse existing software when building new systems. Only a third of those surveyed mentioned their organization makes software assets available for reuse in new projects. This is a traditional problem in the development process; hampering attempts to improve efficiency for decades.

 

Executives are demanding more Software – Enhancements and New Applications

These inefficient software development processes are coming at a time when the C-Suite is demanding more from their application engineers. The MuleSoft survey reports an overall increase of 27 percent in the number of development projects last year. 12 percent of those surveyed managers saw their project load increase by over half.

Of course, the fact that two-thirds of the survey respondents were unable to deliver on all of their projects in the last year truly hits home. Aren’t Agile and/or DevOps making a difference in software development? The fact that these IT managers report responsibility for over one-thousand applications on average raises one obvious question. Are they simply overworked?

Poor integration between these applications – only 29 percent are successfully integrated – appears to be another factor leading to inefficiency. This survey finding perhaps isn’t too surprising considering MuleSoft’s focus on application integration.  81 percent of the survey respondents note that point-to-point integration is a major source of problems for their development teams.

In short, too much valuable development time is spent on one-off application integration efforts; siphoning resources better spent on other projects. Notably, nearly two-thirds of the surveyed managers are focused on this kind of work, as opposed to building new and innovative solutions. On the positive side of the ledger, more than half of the managers report that the use of APIs improves overall productivity, while also leading to increases in innovation, employee engagement, and faster deployment.

As organizations modernize their systems, and the use of DevOps and Agile continues to mature, hopefully the software development process finally wins that decades-long battle to improve efficiency.

 

Thank for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Stay tuned for additional dispatches from the world of software development.

Don’t make Agile Projects a Death March

agile death marchBack in the halcyon days of software development – around two or more decades ago – programmers typically worked longer than 40-hour weeks; sometimes way longer. This is likely still true in some business sectors, especially the video game industry. Over time, however, software engineers began to demand a better balance between their professional and personal lives.

One of the reasons Agile become so popular is its focus on improving the efficiency and productivity of the application development process. Most of this gets accomplished without breaking the programmer’s back. Still, managers need to be reminded not to make Agile projects a death march.

A Recent Trend towards Poor Agile Project Management

In a January blog post for Leading Agile, veteran IT manager, Dave Nicolette talks about a recent trend for Agile project managers to overwork their team to get projects into production more quickly. This traditional “Death March” approach was criticized by the industry legend Ed Yourdon in a 2003 book of the same name. Nicolette notes this management style is now being championed by younger PMs responsible for Agile project delivery.

It seems a book from 1987, Crunch Mode: Building Effective Systems on a Tight Schedule, is the current flavor of the month in some IT manager circles. As Nicolette sarcastically comments: “Reviewers [on Amazon] think it’s great that there’s a way to break every model of sustainable delivery, planning, and estimation, and force people to deliver on an arbitrarily short timeline regardless of the human cost.”

The Risks of the Death March Project

Death March projects happen when the scope of work and timeline don’t match the amount of human resources assigned to the project. In this case, project managers and software leads forego a standard estimation process and simply dive right into the work. Traditionally, this leads to a greater number of errors and the gradual siphoning of employee morale.

Whether or not the project actually met the accelerated schedule, the damage to the development team is notable, as illustrated by Nicolette: “The days immediately following the project are not normal work days. Some of the survivors decide to change jobs or change careers. Others take care of their new health problems or their divorces. Those who escape with most of their sanity intact swear that they will never again participate in a Death March project. They will not be available the next time management asks for volunteers.”

Working Smarter remains more Important than Working Harder

Agile projects, especially those within a company following the DevOps framework, focus on a sustainable process. The overall well-being of all technical resources simply matters more than faster project delivery. “There’s a common mischaracterization of Agile as ‘going faster.’ If all you really want to do is ‘go faster,’ you’re looking for the Death March approach, not the Agile approach. Good luck with that,” comments Nicolette.

In a software development world where engineers desire a balanced life, simply working programmers to death is the worst approach. If you want the highest efficiency and top notch code out of your team, “Crunch Mode” needs to remain in the annals of history.

Thanks for checking out the Betica Blog. Keep returning for additional insights on the world of software development. As always, thanks for reading!

2018 Trends in Agile and DevOps

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2017 saw Agile remain a preeminent methodology for software development, while DevOps continued to become an industry standard for progressive IT organizations. The New Year is expected to bring more of the same, especially as DevOps matures and companies become more adept at its techniques. What follows is a look at some of the major trends for both frameworks in the upcoming year.

If you are interested in checking out our 2018 trends for software development, simply click on the following link.

Lifecycle Management Software combines Agile and DevOps Approaches

At their core, both Agile and DevOps helps organizations better manage the application lifecycle of their software. In 2018, expect the tools used for lifecycle management to leverage approaches from both frameworks. This isn’t surprising, since we previously discussed how companies already experienced with Agile find it easier to implement DevOps.

Considering pushback against inflexible DevOps tool chains was one of our software development trends for this year, improving the toolset by adding the flexibility typical of Agile makes perfect sense. Keep an eye on enhancements in ALM tools throughout 2018.

Getting Executive Buy-in for DevOps Initiatives becomes Easier

DevOps becoming an industry standard obviously means more companies are spending resources on its adoption. Since executives tend to pay close attention to what their competition is doing, they are likely to be more willing to approve the budget for DevOps projects in 2018.

A recent Gartner study notes that IT-related initiatives are now the second highest priority for executives for this year. This is the highest ranking for technology projects since Gartner began tracking that metric. In short, expect DevOps projects to be the rage all across the technology world over the next 12 months.

Traditional Business Metrics no longer applies to Agile

With Agile becoming more entrenched as a software development methodology, traditional project metrics aren’t as useful for tracking business value. Expect better reporting tools to become more popular for companies using Agile in 2018. Those who also follow DevOps can take advantage of metrics able to track the entire lifecycle from development to deployment to maintenance.

Companies able to combine Agile and DevOps with their strategic planning initiatives stay ahead of the game compared to those firms taking an individual silo-based approach.

Improved DevOps Training helping Companies’ Transformation

Even as DevOps becomes ingrained throughout the business world, good companies still struggle with its adoption. Organizations typically add experienced practitioners of the framework on a temporary basis to help to get up to speed. In 2018, improved DevOps training courses are expected to become more widely available.

It is also reasonable to predict DevOps certifications to become popular as companies look to hire IT pros with the right skills as part of their new initiatives. Considering the growing importance of Information Security throughout the tech world, specialized DevSecOps certifications are another easy bet to make for 2018.

So, keep an eye on these trends throughout the year to see if our predictions came true once 2019 is upon us. Hopefully, your projects over the next 12 months are successful!

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches and analysis from the constantly changing software development world. Thanks for reading!