The set of uncertain conditions (Risk) faced in the app development phase is due to internal and external factors. The likelihood of occurrence of any of these uncertainties namely time, budget, skill mismatch, resource, lack of clarity, technology disruption, changes in government policies, and growing competition in a conventional app development create blockages and increases the chances of project failure. Here agile development is the biggest rescuer.
The agile environments manage the app development risks by sensing and dealing with problems in their smallest state before they grow bigger and become fatal as stated by Pearl Zhu. It’s because, in the short duration sprints, the risks get to break down and there lies the opportunity to reduce or remove it in the early stages before it becomes a significant overhaul.
There are burn-down charts that help project managers to visualize the project progress easily, efforts made, and any deviation in the typical schedule, which further aids in better planning for the risk and choose the best way forward.
Let’s take a sneak peek inside at the seven types of app development risks and how they can be managed in agile environments
Sometimes, after the project goes on the floor, the development team realizes that specification regarding mobile app development in the proposal is either incomplete or contradictory. The unavailability of an expert who can answer every question related to the project requirements during coding results in guessing game that ultimately leads to the development of functionality which was not expected.
In agile environments, there exists a role of the product manager who is liable to discuss the specifications from in-and-out and no assumptions are made for the project requirements. The product manager role is central to the team to make sure the right decisions are made at the right time to develop and deliver the right app.
Inflation in requirements
The project scope creeps! The statement is most commonly heard in the today's IT sector where the technology advancement, fierce competition, and changing government policies make it difficult for the businesses to pre-estimate and pre-define the specific functionalities to develop.
Conventionally, the changes can be introduced only after final development which makes implementing the changes an arduous task. Also, to stay synced with the market trends, it’s necessary to bring changes in the on-going project, which leads to cost overruns and stretched project timeline.
In agile practice, the changes can be easily accommodated after every sprint delivery thereby changes won't suppress. The prioritization sessions are held where the changes to proceed, and the initially envisioned features to remove or keep are illustrated so that the app during delivery stay up-to-date with the market conditions, user's expectations, and technology innovations. Agile address the ‘requirement inflation' challenge with constant team involvement and evolution of the project.
The poor planning, project scope creep, or unrealistic timelines make it difficult for the developers to catch up with the project timeline. Every app is unique in itself, so it’s tough to estimate the development time and bring flaws in the schedule. The time risk can be better managed with an agile methodology where the complete team is involved in planning and estimating the project timeline, and then take the feedback or approval from the client.
See how it's done? The project manager knows the velocity at which the team works, which makes it easy to compute how many working hours will be needed to accomplish the project. When the stakeholders require changes in the project alongside set the delivery date in stone, then it can be achieved through agile by increasing the resources where the budget will undoubtedly need to be flexible.
Traditionally, the scope remains fixed, and when the target market forces the businesses to change some of the features, then the changes can be incorporated at the later stage during the final launch that in turn, impact the project as a whole and throw it off balance alongside eats up a massive chunk of the budget. It can be prevented with agile's rolling wave planning strategy.
Under the strategy, the project is divided into short-term phases like sprints and each sprint is planned independently like the functionalities, UI, or back-end to be developed under different sprints. In agile, the stakeholder can pay for the development either after every sprint delivery, when the development is half-way, or when it’s delivered fully.
When the payment after every successful sprint delivery method is employed, it becomes easy for the stakeholders to plan for the budget as budgeting for the first sprint will be plain-sailing, and they will be pretty sure for how much they have to pay for the next delivery and subsequent sprints. Also, if any changes are demanded in any of the phases, the stakeholders will have a clear picture of the budget and the chances of making errors in the entire budget will be less. The issues of neither overestimation nor underestimation of budgeting will pop-up.
Many times, the key members of the project quit the job, which derails the project and it's essential to find the replacement as early as possible to put the project back on the track. However, it's expensive to hire and train new employees and make them easily slide into the team. The tight time can be easily sailed through when the team works with great collaboration and share the nitty-gritty of the development process.
In agile squad-based development, the team allocated for the app development work, share the information, and complete code reviews together, that alleviates the risks of knowledge silos. In the event, the human resource leaves the project; then another member can easily take up the task and fill the gap without saying it's not my job. By doing so, the employee turnover doesn't impact the project scope, timeline, or the budget.
Also, when the work environment is collaborative, engaging, rewarding, and empowering, the risks of team members to move elsewhere will reduce.
Limited interaction leads to miscommunication
When the team works in silos, and hardly communicates or share information regarding on-going project progress, the gap between them starts widening. When any hitch comes up, they start playing the blame-game, which at the end, makes the project suffer.
It can be avoided through the agile development process as the regular reporting at daily stand-ups, pair programming, common code ownership or single project management system is part and parcel of it. All of the information sharing techniques provide a platform to the team members to know what other members are doing and encourage communication so that all of them stand on the same page. Conclusively, open communication zeroes down the probability of any conflict.
The long-term project often brings laxity to the development team because they work with the tendency of "Working harder when the deadline comes nearer." This approach does not just influence the team members productivity; instead, the development company needs to hire more personnel not to exceed the deadline that impacts the bottom line.
The agile sprint-based development has the answer to this problem. In the sprint-based development, the whole project is divided into several manageable sprints and developers are required to develop each sprint in stipulated duration. This method keeps the developers on their toes and won't let them lose the velocity of development; in addition, the project gets completed within the time, budget, and effort investment.
The mobile app development companies are facing a pool of development risks. A single risk, be it, exceeding timeline, underestimated budget, scope creep, employee turnover, knowledge silos, or dwindling productivity is enough to smack the project with huge losses or throw out of the way. It necessitates risk management, but risk management is a dry and dull subject about which less often discussed.
There is an escape! To answer and address all the app development risks, going into agile orbits is the natural solution because the methodology is created to solve all the problems that app development companies face practically.