Here at River Island, we take a non-prescriptive approach to development. Like many businesses, we’ve shifted from a systems-driven, waterfall model to a more flexible position that draws on Agile/Scrum methodologies and DevOps to suit individual projects.
Sometimes there is a project that needs to be developed outside the Agile/DevOps framework, and we’re comfortable with that. Head of Delivery & Transformation Faye Roth wrote about our approach recently here.
Our experience was echoed in this interesting ZDNet article which sets out the ways that Agile and DevOps are not only a practical necessity, but can translate into a competitive advantage for the business as a whole. Here are some of the key lessons:
1. Accept that Agile is inevitable in a modern business
By the time a waterfall project nears completion, often the underlying technology or the client requirements will have changed. The pace of business simply doesn’t match with the linear model any more. This is why Agile has become so dominant. As Gideon Kay, European CIO for Dentsu Aegis Network says, working with the cloud and data platforms also enables this greater flexibility and speed.
2. Be flexible about using waterfall in the right context
Just because most development projects are now ill-suited to the traditional waterfall approach, that doesn’t mean the same dogmatic approach should be applied to everything. Some projects still fare best as standalones. The important thing here is to be open-minded about project development choices, ensuring your team have the skills to move between methodologies smoothly and with confidence.
3. DevOps Means Cultural Change
Using advanced technology is closely linked to the DevOps approach – the cost of a project being found to be off-track at a late stage is simply too great. However, DevOps and Agile both require strong skills in areas such as collaboration and communication. DevOps professionals need to work closely with other teams such as marketing and digital. Managing a team in this process of close collaboration can be a challenge.
4. Empower employees within the new culture
The fast-moving, collaborative ethos of Agile/DevOps can leave employees feeling disempowered and hemmed in by constraints. This is far from the case, but workers need reassurance and clarity on their area of accountability in order to thrive in their roles.
Tight working practices and processes give team members a sense of autonomy, which in turn leads to a greater sense of achievement and motivation. Agile can slip up when it seems too much like a free-for-all with ill-defined tasks and roles.
Are you ready for your next Delivery Manager role?
If you have the flexibility and skill to deliver ground-breaking projects using a range of methodologies, we want to hear from you.
River Island is building the most dynamic mobile technology team in modern retail. For an opportunity to join our team and use your expertise to make a real impact in retail technology, take a look at the current opportunities to join us.