Software development company DVT sponsored the latest SUGSA (Scrum User Group of South Africa) event, titled “Agile Anti-Patterns”, held in Cape Town on 7 March, 2013.

SUGSA is an authorised user group of the Scrum Alliance, an international body that aims to increase awareness and understanding of Scrum, and its aim is to build a South African community of Agile and Scrum practitioners that will improve the maturity level of these software development methods in South Africa. The group shares successes and failures and good practices.

“As one of the leading independent software development companies in the country, DVT is committed to investing in modern software development best-practices and techniques,” says Kevin Naicker, national head of project management, DVT. “DVT has been using Agile software development for more than five years, and we’ve identified SUGSA as the foremost gathering of agile software development professionals. We have supported this community by purchasing a three-event sponsorship package for 2013, so that we may benefit from community knowledge and also assist with sustaining and growing the Agile community.”

Naicker says that Agile, in many of observed cases, is more effective for software development than traditional “waterfall” approaches, and is growing steadily in South Africa. “We are witnessing the dismantling of the old waterfall model (a sequential design process in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards). Companies which still use the waterfall approach do need to make the assessment on whether to change. Where the change can be successfully made, Agile will bring about iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through closer collaboration with stakeholders and the development team.

“The work we have done with various organisations to assess their environments and conduct pilot programmes has proven that Agile can work,” adds Naicker. “Local case studies are allowing companies to share success stories and more developers are taking the initiative to bring about change in their organisations. Today, many of our top clients in banking, financial services and telecommunications are rolling out project after project using Agile.”

At the SUGSA event, speakers Karen Greaves and Samantha Laing explained how common behaviours or “old habits” among software developers, which are seemingly intuitive, are in fact counter-productive, hence the term “anti-patterns”.

“Attendees of the event were broken up into groups and were given examples of anti-patterns commonly observed in business, which were then analysed and discussed. Groups examined the anti-patterns, the dysfunctions they brought about, and what could have been done to address these. The six groups were able to give feedback on each of their anti-pattern examples. It was a real eye-opener for many, as we were found questioning our own beliefs and practices in software development.”

Agile is known for improving the ability to manage changing priorities, and enhancing project visibility. The top reasons for adopting agile include accelerated time to market and better alignment between business and IT.