Gestation Period and Its Impact on Agile Project
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People management in agile development methodologies is one of the most important aspects of successful delivery. A team is quite dynamic and members join and leave on a regular basis. For successful delivery of the project and improvement of the bottom line of the project, we need to reduce the gestation period of new members.
Per Oxford Reference, “Gestation period is the period between the start of an investment project and the time when production using it can start. Normally gestation period is mapped with fixed cost, as project needs time to build infrastructure and other necessary items to start production.” For agile projects, gestation period may be defined as the period between the date when an associate joins the team and the date when he/she delivered his/her first artifacts independently. During the gestation period, the newly-joined associate does not deliver any artifacts and is overhead for the project and negatively impacts the bottom line.
During gestation period, the associate gets access to development environments, gets training for various processes and applications, and is also involved in the formation of the team. In a study conducted by Rajagopalan & Srivastava (Introduction of a new metric “Project Health Index” (PHI) to successfully manage IT projects), it has been found that projects that follow best practices to ramp up newly-joined associates may take around 3 months to get the first artifact delivered by newly-joined associates independently. For projects, which do not have a proper ramp-up plan, newly-joined associates may take more than 4 months.
Longer gestation periods means additional costs for the project, which will impact the bottom line of the organization. Delay in delivery by new associates also impacts customer satisfaction and may impact topline in long run. To reduce gestation period, we need to have a proper ramp-up plan, which can be categorized in the following area:
Awareness of process related organization: Each and every organization has various processes for its successful execution and all new associates must go through the process during their initial days in the organization for a better understanding of organizational know-how.
Access to a development environment: Each associate must have access to a development environment based on his/her role. Early access to an environment helps associate to expedite ramp-up.
Training in development methodology: Lots of organizations use agile methodology for project execution, but every organization has a different variant of it. Associates should go through customized organization project development methodology.
Training of product (functional & technical): As soon as associate understands the functional and technical aspect of application, he/she can deliver the artifacts.
Following are few ways to expedite ramp up:
- Recording of the applications: Audiovisual media is gaining popularity for providing training. Team members can record the flow of applications, functionally & technically. Newly-joined associate can independently go through recording and can later resolve their queries by senior members.
- Classroom session: It is a good approach and is being practiced by several teams; however, it is practiced when more members need to be trained.
- Continuous knowledge sharing within team: It is a very effective methodology to ramp up not only the new associates, but also cross train older members. Associates can provide presentation on functional or technical stuff of various modules.
- Mentorship: This is being practiced not only to ramp up and but also to help newly-joined member to understand the basic stuff of the project.
- Documents of product: New associates are also given documents (project wiki link) so that they can go through it at their own pace.
User story / Tasks: A few teams also practice creating stories/tasks with proper acceptance criteria to track the ramp-up of new associates.
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