SOCIAL MEDIA Connecting and Collaborating with Agile Methodology

Date:   Wednesday , April 04, 2012

The rapid development of social media tools has shrunk the world and paved the way for organizations to employ human resource from across the globe to work as one team. In an era where communication, collaboration, idea exchange and teamwork are of prime importance to ensure rapid and efficient software development, the use of social media tools helps in facilitating smooth communication among stakeholders during the entire lifecycle of a product.

This is true especially in the case of agile methodology, a type of software development that primarily addresses the need to allow intervention during the initial development stage. Today's assumptions and requirements constantly keep changing, and software development teams need to respond to those changes quickly. To meet this challenge, the agile approach advocates focus on simplicity.

Agile methodology stresses on collaboration rather than documentation, hence the development teams interact regularly and documentation is done on a need basis. Dynamic and dispersed teams require a tool like social media, which facilitates communication in real time, one that is fool proof and ensures quick turnaround. Social media tools play a vital role in keeping agile team members, project managers, stake holders and customers to stay connected, share ideas, receive feedback and most importantly achieving faster and best results. The ability to be instant and cover ground makes social media one of the most used and in-demand tools among developers.

Within agile, some of the social media tools that facilitate this smooth communication include:

WebEx: Agile methodology ensures the delivery of 'fully tested and almost releasable' products by incorporating feedback at an early stage. WebEx is used to facilitate demos of the product’s process, conducted at the end of every iteration at different stages of the development cycle, during which there is scope for live feedback.

SharePoint portals : Teams dispersed across countries frequently have intense design discussions, and are required to stay connected. This is carried out through SharePoint portals in the form of discussion boards and easy access documents, which can track the development of a creative idea.

Chat tools: Enterprise chat apps like 'Spark' foster internal communication while keeping out non-work related conversations. Thus, facilitating uninterrupted work process and instant communication.

Sizing applications: Sizing in an agile project determines the scope that can be delivered, amount of work that a team can accomplish in an iteration and reflects the relative complexity of the story to be implemented. Online sizing applications for planning poker enable teams to get onto a common platform, where they can debate and decide on the size of the story irrespective of location.

Rally: A project management tool that enables team members based out of any location to track and view the status of the project at any point of time. This enables users to track and determine the team’s progress, success rate and assess if teams will meet the assigned time line. Apart from supervision, project managers can also update and allocate tasks using this tool.

Yammer: An enterprise social media tool, which works as an internal communication tool used to flesh out feedback from customized groups comprising of people within the organization, stake holders to sales team. Based on the feedback required, specific teams are formed and asked to provide feedback; which is then analyzed and implemented.

Reshaping software development:

Today’s agile methods enable software development teams to respond to the constantly changing customer requirements at a faster rate like never before. This growing acceptance and implementation of agile can be attributed to its feature of not breaking code despite constant change. The success of software development lies in using agile methods, methods that have evolved and can adapt. Its ability to integrate new tools and overcome roadblocks like dispersed teams, diverse skills has impacted how we think and develop software.

CDC Software Inc. (NASDAQ: CDCS) is a provider of a variety of business management software and services. The company’s products include applications for ERP, SCM, CRM, manufacturing operations management and enterprise performance management. It also offers professional services, including software implementation, customer education, and training services. Founded in 2002 and, CDC is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.