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Journal Article

A Case Study of SME Web Application Development Effectiveness via Agile Methods  pp13-26

Peter Clutterbuck, Terry Rowlands, Owen Seamons

© Jan 2009 Volume 12 Issue 1, ECIME 2008, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp1 - 118

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Abstract

The development of Web applications is an important focus of the modern information enabled organization — whether the Web application development is in‑house, outsourced, or purchased as 'commercial‑off‑the‑shelf' (COTS) software. Traditionally Web application development has been delivered via the dominant waterfall system. The waterfall system relies upon well‑defined governance structures, linear phases, gating, and extensive reporting and sign‑off documentation. An increasing number of development stakeholders criticise the waterfall system for web application development. The criticisms include a disproportionate focus on governance and process at the direct expense of flexibility and, most importantly, reduced productivity. One consequence of these criticisms is the increasing adoption of Web application development via agile‑system methods. This agile‑system approach centres upon smaller design teams, fewer development phases, and shorter development time tables. This case study examines the implementation of the agile‑system approach as used by a Small‑to‑Medium Enterprise (SME) software developer. The case study data collection involves interviews and observations across three different SME sources: project managers, Web application programmers, and customers. The case study analysis synthesises the experiences of these managers, programmers and customers to produce an overall assessment of the usefulness of Web application delivery via agile‑system methods. The major conclusions from the case study are that a 'default' agile‑system approach may be tailored or fine‑tuned to fit an individual developer's software process. This tailoring is based upon the developer's assessment of best practice from the overall agile‑system methodology. This tailoring, however, delivers a software development process that exhibits efficiencies and risks. The efficiencies include a more fulfilling role for each development team member, greater richness and continuity in design, a simple management system that delivers key information on a timely basis to all stake‑holders, and increased business and technical quality within the delivered application, and a relatively low cost for actioning changes to user requirements. The risks pivot upon experience levels, skills levels, and the quality of interaction within — and between ‑ both the development team and customer organization.

 

Keywords: project management, information systems management, methodology, agile-system

 

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