What to Expect from Our Estimates

If you are reading this article, our trusted business analysts have likely agreed to impart upon your project some much-needed estimates; and well, you’ve come to the right place!

After all, for today’s blog post, we would like to spell out our meticulous process for preparing estimations, the different sorts of artefacts you should be ready to receive and how this all will play out in the end — on that note, by the by, if you find that any or all your expectations have not been adequately lived up to, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. This will help SPG to continue improving our company’s services for you as well as our future customers.

So, with this in mind and without further ado, let us dive right in!

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Making the Most of Code Review

Every Agile development process strongly stresses the motif that the main goal of developers should not be to concern themselves with side issues, but rather to generate working code. This allows us to implement a variety of features in accordance with our customers’ requirements.

Unfortunately, however, out in the real world, it is crucial to not only strive to implement functionality, but also to ensure your code will be kept clean and without duplicates, being easy to understand, support and extend, makes extensive use of automated tests and presents as little as possible technical debt — that is, valuable work postponed by virtue of restrictive deadlines or other more pressing priorities.

This is why over the years, both customers and programmers have jointly devised a number of solutions for assessing code quality as well as providing projects with the appropriate level of support, throughout development. Of all of these, however, one popular technique distinctly stands out — the exceptional practice of code review.

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Our Development Process

At Software Planet, we take great pride in our customer-centric development process. This is why from start to finish, a striking sense of partnership is present in all we do.

Still, we recognise that for those with limited exposure to Agile development, an inescapable learning curve may also be perceived; so for this article, we would like to walk you step-by-step through our tried-and-trusted methods.

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Integrating New Arrivals

Our customers often inquire as to how in the world our newer developers will be skilful enough to deal with our development process — and really, who can blame then?

After all, how laid-back and comfortable would you feel if the man assigned to the critical case of your tooth extraction were an obvious hatchling fresh out of dental school?

“Let’s see then… I think this, no, erm… this over here is what I need! Right, could you open up your mouth, please? Uh huh… Oh dear. Oh no. That won’t work, will it? Well, maybe something sharper!”

Horrifying, right? Of course, to begin with, the words “comfortable” and “dentist” are hardly representative of a pairing made in heaven; but the point, nonetheless, is you would probably feel a lot more at ease if the drill were handed over to an experienced professional.

Now thankfully, as you probably know, our own situation is entirely different. But just to help to allay those fears, Software Planet would now like to reveal our careful and deliberate process for successfully integrating newer arrivals into the heart of our company.

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Raising Giants: Our Internship Programme

How often do you take the time to invest in your future? For most of us, as life kicks into full gear, the opportunities seem fewer and farther between.

Yet as many of you will also know well, no better time for change exists than in the pivotal years of our youth. This is when a single miscalculated move could quickly spell the difference between a burgeoning career in something you love and a lifetime of hopeless disappointment.

For nearly a decade now, it is precisely this awareness which has formed the basis for one of Software Planet’s most beloved projects of all: our internship programme.

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User Stories: Bridging the Gap Between Customers and Developers (Updated)

When choosing a software provider to create the web or desktop solution your company needs, communication is indeed key, but this may be easier said than done. The gap between programmers and customers can quickly become apparent and is often a challenge to master, as most customers are unprepared to discuss their projects from a strictly technical point of view.

In order to get past these difficulties and effectively relay their requirements, some companies resort to UML or workflow diagrams, while yet others go for UI sketches and lengthy free text descriptions.

At Software Planet Group, however, we think both customers and developers should always be on the same page, and speak the same language (see our article on the system metaphor for more on this subject). This is why wherever we can, we aim to simplify the management of requirements, using tried-and-true techniques that enable us to quickly determine the full scope of a project, estimate and re-estimate particular features and releases.

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Our Rapid Prototyping Process

“I am speed,” declared Lightning McQueen, the fearless red racer voiced by Owen Wilson in Pixar’s animated Cars. His psyching words are a gauging meter for the general mood in the 21st Century — when time is money, then agility must be the word. Anything short of full throttle will put valuable resources at risk.

Of course, the other danger is when too much speed is applied to the wrong processes. And yet every day, countless companies pour their assets away into projects that — unbeknownst to them — are going far off the mark.

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Why Stand-Up Meetings Matter

According to a recent study by the Michigan State University, people who spend a lot of time sitting down are often plagued by slow cognitive function, long-term memory loss and generally poor mental health.

By contrast, the simple act of standing up has been shown to send blood and oxygen pumping throughout our bodies, activating a number of chemicals that not only enhance our brains but also improve our overall mood.

This, however, is merely the scientific case for an Agile practice that over time has proven itself indispensable to development teams across the world, including our own.

We are talking, of course, about stand-up meetings. Whether you know them as “scrums” or “huddles,” the daily stand-up is a powerful practice to increase team unity, coordinate efforts, and share problems and progress in a quick and effective manner.

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Tuning into the Bigger Picture

The great Earl Nightingale once stated that people with goals succeed because they know where they are going. All too often, however, while our short-term goals are more than apparent, tugging and pulling at us with every passing moment, the overarching reason for doing what we do appears to get lost in the process.

In fact, this is often a criticism reserved for Agile development itself. Because so much time is spent focusing on small tasks every week, it is not unheard of for developers to lose sight of important objectives, without which the end result of a project would quickly dissolve into a sloppy, disjointed mess.

“The first step is recognising you have a problem!” the AA meeting — Agile Aid — speaker says in the back. Yet at Software Planet, we take great strides to ensure no problems will arise in the first place.

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Demo Meetings: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

According to the seventh principle of Agile development, “working software is the primary measure of progress.”

Before this revolutionary ideal, however, although customers could still in theory be kept informed on the status of their projects, it would take until the very end of a development cycle for them to finally lay eyes on a well-rounded, fully-functioning system.

Thankfully, those days are long behind us, and perhaps nothing better illustrates this point than the brilliant Sprint review — that’s “demo meeting” if you don’t speak Scrumglish.

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