The Impact of Agile on Software Quality

software qualityEverything Is Agile

The pace of business is moving faster than ever. Startups are hyper-innovating, threatening to disrupt traditional business models. Large companies are taking notice and moving faster to stay ahead of the pack.

The implication for software is a shift in development methodology. The traditional “waterfall” method is being displaced by “Agile.” Agile is a faster and more iterative approach to software development and delivery. Rather than taking 6 to 12 months to do one big release, Agile teams will release software much more rapidly. An Agile team may release software every few weeks or even every few days.

Studies show that Agile is the new norm.

According to VersionOne’s State of Agile survey, 95% of companies have adopted Agile in at least parts of their organization.

The Agile approach has led to big changes in the people, processes and tools that organizations use to develop software. Just look at a company like Atlassian that makes software for Agile development teams. They were founded by a couple of twentyyear-olds in 2002. Today, they have over 40,000 customers and recently went public with a $6 billion valuation [TechCrunch].

The Impact of Agile on Software Quality

For all of its upside, Agile also has created some significant challenges for development teams. Speed can sometimes lead to “corner cutting” especially when it comes to testing. In order to make the release date, developers may cut testing time or eliminate it altogether. The result is that software gets tested “in the wild,” meaning that your end users are finding the bugs in the application.

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In some cases, this can acceptable, but in others the consequences can be catastrophic for a business. For example, if an online shopping cart is broken because of the lack of thorough testing, a business will lose customers and revenue until that cart is fixed. And that business may never get a chance to get those customers back again.

This isn’t a hypothetical discussion. Just look at what happened in the summer of 2015 when United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange and the Wall Street Journal were all down because of computer glitches. This cost those companies millions of dollars in revenue and illustrates the critical nature of software quality

The cost to “fix an error found after product release is four to five times as much as one uncovered during design, and up to 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase.[Celerity]”  It’s clear that leaders today need to find the right balance between speed and quality.

Studies show that software glitches cost the US economy $60 billion every year.

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