Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, SmartBear Blog, Scott Allen, Jnan Dash, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, IoT User Interface, Silverlight

Java IoT: Blog Feed Post

Five Questions to Ask Before You Take Up an Agile Contract

The biggest challenge of adopting agile for an outsourced project is there aren’t any clearly defined best practices available

You are a software service provider. You develop software for you clients. Majority of your clients are from a different city or even a different country. You are in a discussion with your client where you are exploring the option of adopting Agile Development Methodology for your next project.

Does the above paragraph describe you? Are you concerned about how the whole thing will work out?

If the above paragraph describes you, then I can assure you that you are not in minority. Many of us have been in a similar situation.

The biggest challenge of adopting agile for an outsourced project is that there aren’t any clearly defined best practices available which you can adopt. The whole field is still evolving and the best practices are yet to emerge.

So, what should you do to increase the chance of success?

Obviously, you will have to find the answer yourself. To find the right answer, you need to ask the right question!

Let me set you thinking on what questions you need to ask. Here are 5 of them:

1. Is your understanding of Agile same as your clients understanding of Agile?
Please remember, there is no common accepted definition for agile. Yes, there is the Agile Manifesto but that can hardly be called a definition. It is more of a vision of how to develop software which delivers business values. The manifesto indicates that the best way to develop software is to create a “co-located” “cross-functional” team of “competent” individuals and allow them to “self-organize” and deliver “working” software “regularly” which delivers “business-value”.

In today’s complex globalized world it may be impossible to keep the software team small and collocated. The prescribed method of software development becomes infeasible when the size of the problem grows beyond a point. Yes, one small team can be very productive but there are many real life problems where it becomes impossible for a single team to handle. Similarly, when experts across multiple locations need to collaborate, co-location is not really an option. As a result, where outsourcing is involved, the agile process will deviate from what is envisaged in the manifesto.

There isn’t any common understanding of what the deviation should be. So you need to have your own interpretation of the “agile methodology” that you want to follow. What you need to keep in mind is that your interpretation may be different from what the client expects. So, the most important task should be to identify how much is this difference in interpretation?

If the difference is small then you would be lucky because you would have crossed the biggest hurdle. However, if the difference is significant then you need to decide if you want to follow your client in agile adoption or do you want to act as the thought leader and convince the client about your interpretation?

If you have a mismatch of the interpretation it will definitely result in mismatch of expectation and erosion of trust.

2. On what basis are you going to get paid?
Though one of the 4 principles of agile manifesto is “Customer Collaboration” over “Contract Negotiation”, in an outsourcing situation it is impossible to avoid contract negotiation. The key element in your contract is going to be a mechanism or a formula to derive how much you are going to get paid for the service that you are rendering.

If client is willing to pay based on the hours logged by the team members and ready to take the responsibility of the output of the team then you don’t have to worry.

The current trend is to link the payment to output. There is no standard method of achieving this and you need to work it out with each client separately. There are two alternate mechanisms to achieve this.

In the first one you agree on a scope of work and a price for the same. The scope can be defined for an “iteration” or for a “release”. You also agree on a mechanism for arriving at the deviation from the agreed scope and method of calculating how much you will be compensated for the extra work. Alternately, you can come up with a formula to calculate the size of the work delivered and a method of calculating the price for that. However, whatever may the mechanism be, it should appear to be fair for both parties.

You need to work for a win-win without which you will not be able to build the trust required for the success of the agile project.

3. How will the iterations be accepted? How will the project close?
In most cases, your payment will be linked to a milestone. It may be on a completion of “iteration” or the delivery and acceptance of release. Will the client pay you as soon as you make the delivery or will the pay only after they have verified the delivery and found it acceptable. What happens if there are bugs? Would you have to fix them before you are paid? Will that be a separate delivery or will they be fixed in the next iteration. What happens if there is a delay in reviewing the delivery?

Best way to overcome this problem is to deliver good quality software and adjust your iteration cycle-time to match the client’s ability to review it, give feedback and finally accept the delivery. Also, it is a good idea to have a clear understanding on how the project is going to be brought to a closure. In the over eagerness to start the work, the method of acceptance may not be fully resolved.

It would a big mistake not to address the issue of “method of acceptance” before starting the engagement.

4. Will your communication infrastructure measure up to client expectations?
Insisting on co-location while outsourcing a project may not make sense. In most cases it will defeat the purpose of outsourcing. Therefore once you give up on one of the original agile premise of cross-functional collocated team you will face another set of challenges. Irrespective of what agile may say, tools processes and technology will come to your aid to ease the burden of multiple locations.

You need to put in place suitable infrastructure which will support direct interaction between all members of your team and the product owner and other relevant people in the client organization without any delay. You also need to have in place suitable tools and process in place for sharing information like story, backlog, open issues, bugs etc. You also need to figure out if all your team members are comfortable and confident about discussing road blocks with the client representative.

For a distributed team it is difficult to achieve continuous interaction without the support suitable technology and infrastructure support.

5. How transparent do you have to be about your team composition and organization?
Is self-organizing team a necessary precondition for executing an agile project? The view among the experts range from (A) “yes, it is a must” to (B) “it is a good thing to have but not mandatory”.

If your clients fall into the second category and he leaves the problem of team organization to you then you don’t have to worry too much about team self-organization. If you are able to create a self-organizing team you will be better off and be more productive. Without that also you will still survive.

However, if the client insists that the team has to organize itself, the scrum master will only play the role of facilitator and you are not going to have a project manager then you need to clearly understand the implication. If your whole organization is only using agile methodology then you may not have a problem. But if like most of software service provider you use a mix of many different development life-cycles – this distinction becomes very important.

To support self-organization you will need mature team members and experienced scrum master.

Finally…

There is enough evidence that agile works better than traditional methods … even in outsourcing situation.

Therefore, agile is going to get adopted – question is “are you prepared”?

[A version of this article is also published in Global Delivery Report]

<< Previous5 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Outsource An Agile Project

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
Google

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...