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Adopting an agile software development process

News publication date: 
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
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Over the last 2 years, IT Services’ Software Solutions have been adopting an agile software development process and an application lifecycle management platform to support it. The development methodology is based on ‘scrum’. Scrum adopts an empirical approach which is underpinned by transparency, inspection, and adaptation. All work within the scrum framework is visible to those responsible for the outcome: the process, the workflow, progress, etc. In order to make these things visible, scrum teams need to frequently inspect the product being developed and how well the team is working.

The major advantage scrum has over other methodologies, especially for teams adopting agile ways of working for the first time, is that regular testing reduces time and resource, and increases productivity as a result. Since there is visibility in progress tracking there are no surprises at the end of the development process. This means no time is wasted on having to go back and redo any part of the development process. This has the added benefit of making project timelines more predictable.

Primarily, Software Solutions use continual testing. This involves splitting the work that needs to be done into small testable units of functionality around two to three days in size that can be tested as soon as they are finished. This enables testers to ‘mop up’ any issues along the way.

To date the team have run approximately 20 software development projects through this process and currently have around 25 applications configured with continuous integration builds, automated testing and automated deployment pipelines. They are currently averaging 20 builds and deployments across four teams and a wide variety of technologies including Drupal, React + Node, Docker, .Net, Dynamics, SQL Server, and MongoDB.

The team are now at a stage where they have a good repeatable process and a fully integrated toolset. If you are undertaking some software development and are interested in taking advantage of this approach please get in touch for advice and a demo by emailing Head of Application Development, Matthew Castle (matthew.castle@it.ox.ac.uk).