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«ABSTRACT The purpose of this research study is to perform a comparison and contrast analysis on three F. Davis Cardwell published longitudinal case ...»

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An additional concern is the management of customer collaboration. Hanssen and Fægri (2006) note that customers remain engaged in the development process only as long as there are direct business benefits in doing so. Keeping the customer involved in the development effort is a critically important management task, as the development team depends on timely detailed feedback from the customer, to ensure that the product continues to develop in a useful direction. (Hanssen & Fægri, 2006, p. 6)

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS

The Sabre-P study was the largest development project of the three studies. It is worth noting that XP practices showed signs of stress when applied to a project of this size. Stakeholders observed that the daily stand-up meeting became problematic with the larger team size, as some points brought up were irrelevant to others on the team. Additionally, stakeholders felt that customer access was problematic, as the customer representative was not available as often as needed; these team members felt that project planning suffered because of delayed customer input. Furthermore, stakeholders felt that the planning game was adversely affected by outside factors such as scope creep, which is the introduction of requirements that have not been approved by the affected stakeholders, and externally mandated deadlines. Occasionally, the team was forced to include features into a release before they were intended to be included, due to business demands; these features were forced into the release without the feature tradeoff that is mandated by XP. This project included a large amount of legacy code, which made unit testing problematic; developers often abandoned unit testing when faced with schedule pressures, despite entreaties not to do so. Similarly, pair programming was often abandoned in the face of schedule pressure, as the developers felt it was impossible to deliver the promised functionality unless each developer worked alone. Abandoning pair programming was also specifically discouraged by team leadership. Refactoring was often ignored due to fear that it would introduce new faults into the project. Several developers expressed concerns about collective code ownership, and stated that they had observed a decrease in the willingness to take responsibility for poorly written code. Further, there was a perception among the developers that the focus on continuous delivery caused them to lose sight of the overarching goals of the project.

Unanimously, all of the developers felt that they were not working at a sustainable pace; the project incorporated fixed and extremely optimistic deadlines, and the development team had no power to reduce scope. As a result, the development team was forced to work consistent overtime in order to meet the project deadlines. (Layman, et al., 2004b., pp. 5 – 7)

THE PERFORMANCE OF AGILE METHODS:COMPARISON TO TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT METHODS

CHAPTER 4: CONCLUSIONS

INTRODUCTION

This paper has explored the performance of the agile software development method Extreme Programming compared to traditional software development methods through a comparison and contrast analysis of three published case studies. The purpose of exploring these case studies has been to determine if there are measurable differences in performance between agile development methods and traditional methods.

The first sub-question is: Are there significant and measurable differences in cost performance between software development projects using traditional development methods, compared to software development projects using agile development methods? The null-hypothesis for this question is that there are no significant differences between development costs of traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods.

The second sub-question is: Are there significant and measurable differences in schedule performance between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods? The null-hypothesis for this question is that there are no significant differences in schedule performance between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods.

The third sub-question is: Are there significant and measurable differences in quality between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods? The null-hypothesis for this question is that there are no significant differences in quality between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods.

The fourth sub-question is: Are there significant differences in stakeholder satisfaction between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods? The null-hypothesis for this question is that there are no significant differences in stakeholder satisfaction between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods.

SUMMARY

The first sub-question asks if there are significant and measurable differences in cost performance between software development projects using traditional development methods, compared to software development projects using agile development methods. In the case of these three case studies, the null-hypothesis for this question, specifically that there are no significant differences between development costs of traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods, is not supported by the evidence; significant and measurable improvements were found.





The second sub-question asks if there are significant and measurable differences in schedule performance between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods. The null-hypothesis for this question, specifically that there are no significant differences in schedule performance between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods, is not supported by the evidence; significant and measurable improvements were found.

The third sub-question asks if there are significant and measurable differences in quality between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods. The null-hypothesis for this question, specifically that there are no significant differences in quality between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods, is not supported by the evidence; significant and measurable improvements were found.

THE PERFORMANCE OF AGILE METHODS:COMPARISON TO TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT METHODS

The fourth sub-question asks if there are significant differences in stakeholder satisfaction between projects using traditional development methods, compared to projects using agile development methods. The null-hypothesis for this question, specifically that there are no significant differences in stakeholder satisfaction between traditionally developed software projects and projects developed using agile methods, is not supported by the evidence; significant and measurable improvements were found.

In the light of the fact that significant and measurable differences were found in every instance, is it safe to conclude that agile software development methods are demonstrably superior to traditional methods? No, it is not. Firstly, despite the consistency of the findings across the three case studies, a sample size of three is too small a sample to be conclusive; more studies and more varied studies need to be evaluated and included into the body of knowledge before definitive conclusions can be drawn. Secondly, the three studies examined utilized one specific agile method, Extreme Programming. Further studies are needed to determine if the improvements found using XP are generally applicable. Finally, the Sabre-P project exhibited evidence of stress on the XP processes used. As the Sabre-P project was the largest of the three projects examined, this stress is indicative that conventional wisdom may be correct as it relates to agile methods used in non-agile problem domains. Further study is needed to determine the efficacy of agile methods in large projects and for safety-critical systems.

FURTHER RESEARCH

As discussed by Leedy and Ormond, (2010, p. 7) research is rarely conclusive; in exploring one set of research questions, additional questions and areas of exploration are discovered. The author presents

the following as areas of further interest:

1. The XP evaluation framework is useful in normalizing data drawn from differing XP development projects, thus enabling meaningful analysis. It would be a boon to the industry to expand this tool into a family of tools supporting additional agile development methods. If additional methods were supported, developers could use the tool to see if the conclusions drawn from the evaluated XP development projects apply to agile methods generally. Such a tool family would be especially useful considering the popularity of other agile methods like Scrum and Feature Driven Development.

2. The polar chart developed by Boehm and Turner (2003), used in the developmental category of the XP-cf, uses a plot of five project risk factor categories to determine a project’s optimal method. As pointed out by Williams, Krebs, & Layman (2004, p. 13), it is in the best interests of the industry to apply this classification model to as many and as varied development projects as possible, in order to both validate the model, and determine the model’s usefulness in creating custom hybrid methods. Experience has shown that the implementation of agile practices can be beneficial even when only a subset of possible practices is used. (Williams, Krebs, et al., 2004, p.

8)

3. Conventional wisdom within the software development community is that agile methods are inappropriate for developing safety-critical applications. (Lindvall, et al., 2002, p. 7) A possible cause for this belief is found in the origins of agile methods. Before the agile movement had a name, these methods were referred to as “lightweight” methods; this terminology was dropped in favor of the word “agile,” in part because it was felt that no one would take lightweight methods seriously. (Beck, et al., 2001) On the surface, it is obvious that lightweight methods should not be used for developing software on which lives depend; however, is this judgment backed by empirical evidence, or is it an example of expectation bias? If we accept the idea that “all great truth begins as blasphemy” (Walsch, 2004, p. 5), then a valuable addition to the body of knowledge concerning software development would be the initiation of a safety-critical application

THE PERFORMANCE OF AGILE METHODS:

COMPARISON TO TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT METHODS

project to be developed using agile methods; evaluation of the results of this project could begin to answer questions as to the correctness of conventional wisdom in this instance.

4. Due to the relative newness of agile development methods, the majority of developers currently in the workforce learned traditional development methods before they learned agile methods. There is a tendency in human behavior to “fall back” to the most familiar habits when under stress. This tendency was observed in the Sabre-P study when the project was stressed due to unrealistic project goals; the project team abandoned XP processes in favor of the more familiar traditional processes. An interesting addition to the body of knowledge would be to observe a stressed agile development project, where the development team is most familiar or exclusively familiar with agile processes, thus removing this fall-back tendency from the evaluation.

CONCLUSIONS

Software development is a developing discipline. (Siakas & Siakas, 2007, p. 2) This study adds to the body of knowledge concerning software development. It indicates that agile methods are useful under certain development conditions, and that at least for projects that are within the agile boundary set, agile methods are measurably more effective in producing high-quality software and happy stakeholders. Despite these findings, additional research is necessary in order to clearly delineate the outer edges of the agile boundary set, assuming they exist. It is certain that global dependence on high-quality software will increase in the future. In light of this dependence, it becomes increasingly more urgent that the most effective methods possible for software development be discovered, proven, and implemented. Epstein (2004) suggests that software development can be used as spiritual metaphor, and that the various software development methods correspond to different spiritual paths. (Epstein, 2004) Just as it is important that each individual finds the spiritual path that empowers them to be happily and usefully whole, it is important that each software development project be developed using the most appropriate development method, so that the desired software can be created with the best possible results.

THE PERFORMANCE OF AGILE METHODS:COMPARISON TO TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT METHODS

REFERENCES

1. Abbas, N., Gravell, A. M., and Wills, G. B. (2008) Historical roots of agile methods: where did “agile thinking” come from? Southampton, United Kingdom: University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/266606/1/xp2008camera_ready.pdf

2. Beck, K., Beedle, M., van Bennekum, A., Cockburn, A., Cunningham, W., Fowler, M.,...

Thomas, D. (2001). The agile manifesto: The Agile Alliance. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

3. Boehm, B. W., Abts, C., Brown, A. W., Chulani, S., Bradford, K. C., Horowitz,... Steece, B.

(2000). Software cost estimation with cocomo ii. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

4. Boehm, B. W. and Turner, R. (2003). Using risk to balance agile and plan-driven methods. New York: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Computer, vol. 36, pp. 57-66, 2003.



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