Cost‑effective Agile Development with Scrum

Published: May 26, 2021Updated: April 25, 2022
8 min to read
Cost‑effective Agile Development with Scrum

Agile software development is an approach which embraces the ability to respond and quickly adapt to change, and it helps you to be successful in an uncertain and often rapidly-changing business environment. Agile methodology is an umbrella term which takes in the framework and practices described in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 principles that are expressed in that manifesto.

A big part of agile project management includes the collaboration of team members, and how well they work together. This is one of the most important ways to ensure that a project can be accomplished on‑time and on‑budget, so having cross‑functional teams collaborating closely is a hallmark of agile development.

Scrum Methodology

Scrum methodology is defined as a distinct process that is used to promote product development as well as other projects where it is well-suited. When using Scrum, an agile team will develop a hypothesis of how they think something actually works, experiment with that hypothesis, and then consider the results of the experimentation. If any adjustments or changes are necessary, these will be incorporated into the next round of experimentation. Scrum has a flexible structure that allows for using other frameworks, if they are deemed appropriate to the present context.

Scrum is most helpful when used in a setting where cross‑functional teams are working in some kind of product development environment, and the project involves a significant amount of work. As a rule of thumb, there is generally at least four weeks of work involved in projects where cross‑functional teams are collaborating to accomplish a specific goal. The principles involved in any Scrum project like this are: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Transparency means that everyone involved on the project is fully aware of the work being done by other teams, and are aware of any issues being encountered by those teams. Inspection points are built into the process, because these are times during the process where teams have the opportunity to consider the results of progress so far, and think about whether any changes need to be injected into the process. Adaptation comes into play when team members realize that some aspects of the project are not working as planned, and require modification so as to align with the project objectives.

The Scrum Lifecycle is actually a framework that allows cross‑functional teams to collaborate closely, and to make changes as necessary to keep the project on course, while identifying and resolving issues as they crop up. There is a set of steps comprising this Lifecycle, after which the end result becomes a finished product which can be used. As with any other project methodology, all the individual steps taken during this Lifecycle tend toward completion of the overall project.

How Not to Burn Budget with Agile Scrum
Scrum Process

In some cases, the point of Scrum methodology is MVP software development, that produces the Minimum Viable Product, which means that the product is minimally viable and can be demonstrated to interested parties and users. This is generally used in custom software development, when a software product is quickly developed so it can be shown to users to satisfy them that the project is on track, and will result in what they really want. Scrum is one of the best ways to conduct project management in software development, because it achieves results early in the process, and continues to adapt and resolve issues throughout the process.

What Risks Exist for the Client Using Agile/Scrum?

As with any kind of software development project, there are a number of associated risks, beginning with budget risks. Your budget can quickly get out of control if scope creep enters the picture, and there is a constant flow of additional requests made by users, who don’t necessarily realize the impact of those additional requests.

This is when a manager can provide great value to the project, by discussing with users how any broadening of the original scope of the project will add time, money, and resources to the planned budget. If the requested additions are so important that these resource increases are acceptable, there’s no problem — but that isn’t usually the case, and the original budget must generally be adhered to.

Agile Scrum is always most successful when all the participants stick to the principles involved with the process. These are the 12 principles of Agile software development:

  • satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of desired software
  • welcome changing requirements at all phases of development
  • deliver working software at frequent intervals
  • users and developers must work closely together
  • trust motivated individuals to get the project done
  • face-to-face discussions are always best
  • the main measure of progress is functional software
  • agile processes encourage sustainable development
  • agility is enhanced by working excellence
  • simplicity is to be incorporated at all times
  • self-organizing and policing teams are the most efficient groups
  • periodic self-reflection is necessary for all agile teams

Another client risk is that agile Scrum development is not well-suited to a given project, and will not be able to deliver the expected results. If a project involves four or more weeks of work, and is adaptable to the 12 principles above, then the agile framework should work well. One last risk of agile development is that there is less predictability in the outcome, because change has been encouraged throughout the process. It’s entirely possible that the end result is much different than the original project scope called for.

What Risks Exist for the Vendor Using Agile/Scrum?

Probably the biggest risk for any vendor using Agile Scrum is that the cross-functional teams assigned to carry out the project have not received adequate training for the process, and they therefore lack the knowledge to carry out the Scrum principles. This can be overcome by ensuring that all team members have been sufficiently trained, and understand their roles on whatever team they have been assigned to.

Another risk of using Agile Scrum is that for some reason, the project must be halted. This could be because budget money suddenly dried up, but if the process has to be stopped before completion, that will probably mean the intended software product will be something less than fully functional. The completion date may also be uncertain in this situation. There is also the possibility of technical debt occurring, which is a situation which arises when users choose to rework the project now, in order to deliver a functional software product immediately, rather than staying the course and delivering a better product on the scheduled completion date.

The Best Approach

It’s rare in real life that the very best approach to any project turns out to be a pure adaptation of Agile Scrum methodology, and in fact, some mix of approaches is generally the ideal. Scrum being very adaptable, it can readily incorporate other frameworks so that the ideal approach can be arrived at. This is particularly necessary for startup companies, whose needs are often very changeable and can call for frequent changes that become necessary due to changing business needs. As Stephen Hawking once said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

How to Implement Agile Scrum

All the above information may sound very exciting and appealing to you, and make you want to try Agile Scrum with your own software development personnel. Contact us today, so we can arrange an initial consultation with you, and so we can help you get your personnel the needed training. Once you experience the positive results of Agile software development, you won’t want to use any other approach.

Vadim Dyvlyash

Reviewed by Vadim Dyvlyash

Head of Business Development at Aristek Systems

Developing projects with Agile approach leads you to get great results, at the same time remember that sometimes chasing modern methodologies can burn your budget, just try to keep balance.

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