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Laury has taught in professional adult education settings for over 10 years and is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology.
Meet Oliver! He's a senior project manager at a gaming software company. Oliver routinely uses agile methods for the games his company develops. He is starting a new project to develop a game called War Games, and the customer wants to know why Oliver will use agile to manage the project. Today, he's discussing the benefits and disadvantages of agile with his customer.
Oliver starts with an explanation of agile. Agile is an umbrella term for several methodologies that all use iterative work packages. Each work package has a 'mini-phase' to define, build, test, and release the software, or whatever the project deliverable is.
Now that the customer understands what agile is, he moves on to the benefits and disadvantages of using agile. To start his explanation, Oliver lists the benefits and disadvantages of agile. The benefits of agile are that it is more flexible, it offers a faster delivery to the customer, and it provides better communication. The disadvantages of agile are that can be hard to predict, the final product is not released first, and the documentation is left for last.
Oliver begins explaining each a little more, using the upcoming War Games project as an example.
Agile is flexible, a huge benefit when the customer requirements or priorities frequently change. Agile also gets the product to the market faster and has better team communication than traditional methods. Let's talk about each of these in a bit more detail.
Agile adapts to change better than traditional project management approaches. Requirements can be added, deleted, or changed at the beginning of each iterative cycle, guiding the project team on the work for the next iteration. The customer can also shift priorities at the beginning of each cycle, allowing the project team to keep up with the customer's business needs.
Oliver uses the War Game project as an example. Since this is a brand new software game, nobody really knows all the details of what the game should do, other than shoot enemies in war. To begin the project, the team defines high-level objectives and prioritizes them. The programmers pull the first tasks and create working software.
The game testers will have it for a few days and give Oliver more things the game characters should do. One may need a flame thrower gun, and another might need a machine gun. Those requirements will be added to the existing list, and the customer may set new priorities. Some of the new requirements may be priorities, so the team will work on those for the next iteration. Working this way allows the team to accommodate customer changes in requirements and priorities.
The product gets to market faster using agile because the focus is on working deliverables, not finished products. The requirements defined during a particular iteration are built into a working model.
Oliver refers back to War Games. The initial requirements are to have two soldiers fighting terrorists in a wasteland. The team will deliver working software meeting all those requirements during the first iteration, even knowing that more requirements will come up. The customer could release that version, getting the product to market faster than if the team waited until the end of the project to deliver a game with every feature that the customer will eventually want.
Because the project team works closely with the customer to revisit requirements and priorities, agile has better communication than traditional methods. The cyclic nature of iterative cycles drives continual feedback, ensuring the team has high levels of communication.
Going back to War Games, Oliver explains that as the team works with testers during each cycle, they'll get feedback on the characters' looks, weapon powers, and levels in the game. This constant flow of information will provide better team communication.
Even with its benefits, agile has characteristics that can be disadvantageous that Oliver needs to make the customer aware of. The flip side of the very benefits of agile can be a disadvantage. Let's look at some of them.
Agile is so flexible that it becomes unpredictable. The customer can change requirements and priorities after every iteration. Sometimes, that makes it hard to know what work will be done next, so managing schedules and resources can be hard.
With War Games, Oliver points out how the project could be unpredictable. After the first iteration, the staff might request changes in weapons, which the project team will expect to be a priority. Let's say the customer decides having more realistic landscape is a higher priority. That will cause a focus shift for the project team and they may lose some momentum.
Oliver continues by explaining to the customer that agile's focus is delivering a working product with every iteration, and there may be several iterations before the final product is built. This means that the final product is not in the first release, and multiple releases are needed to get a finished game.
Oliver demonstrates using the War Games project. The initial release will have two soldiers fighting terrorists in a wasteland setting. The game will work, but several iterations will be needed to get to the final version of the game.
In agile, documentation gets left for last. It doesn't make sense writing comprehensive documentation that's likely to change. Early documentation only covers the immediate requirements. Extensive documentation is typically done near the end of the project.
Referring back to War Games, Oliver explains that the team will document the characters, the game plot, and the setting for the first iterative cycle. For each iteration, the documentation will be updated to show new or changed requirements. As the project reaches its end, the team will catch up on the documentation so that it is detailed and thorough.
Agile is an umbrella term for several project technologies that all use iterative work packages to allow a project team to respond quickly to changing requirements and priorities. The benefits of agile are that it is more flexible, it offers a faster delivery to the customer, and it provides better communication. The disadvantages of agile are that it can be hard to predict, the final product is not released first, and the documentation is left for last.
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Back To CourseAgile & Scrum Training
9 chapters | 131 lessons