When Agile Becomes a Quality Game-Changer

by Larry Spencer Wednesday, May 21, 2014 12:05 AM
Tonight I attended a meeting of the Boston Software Process Improvement Network. Michael Mah spoke on When Agile Becomes a Quality Game-Changer. These were the highlights for me:

  • Compared to traditional (mostly waterfall) development, Agile development is 30% quicker and results in 75% fewer defects. These figures are from a database of thousands of software projects that Mr. Mah's firm, QSM Associates, has accumulated over many years.
  • Agile works best when the following factors are in play:
    • Test-Driven Development is practiced.
    • People work in pairs. I gathered that the pairs may be programmer & programmer or programmer & business person.
    • The entire team is "co-located" -- ideally in one large room.
    • The team gets to focus on one project at a time.
    • The team has a passion for what they do.
  • Bug density in the finished software increases "geometrically" with team size. Throwing more people at a project might get it done a little quicker, but you'll have many more opportunities for mis-communication and therefore many more defects.
  • The choice of programming language has no material effect on productivity or bug density, but programmers' experience with the language does.
Mr. Mah invited us to download a copy of a study that QSM Associates has compiled. Here's the link in case you're interested: http://qsma.com/agilereport/.

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Larry Spencer

Larry Spencer develops software with the Microsoft .NET Framework for ScerIS, a document-management company in Sudbury, MA.