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What is the right strategy for Agile mobile development?

Agile mobile development can be made easier by using a little-known methodology, called Mobile-D. Expert Yvette Francino takes us inside this process.

Picking an Agile mobile development methodology that works best for your team will depend on a lot of things, including how often you want to deploy to your customer base, the organization's culture, and their Agile expertise and level of maturity.

There is a methodology, called Mobile-D, that isn't widely known; it defines a specific methodology for developing mobile applications that is based on Agile techniques and processes.  The School of Informatics developed this methodology and uses the following components as part of the development lifecycle:

  • Phasing and placing;
  • Architecture line;
  • Mobile test-driven development;
  • Continuous integration;
  • Pair programming;
  • Metrics;
  • Agile software process improvement;
  • Off-site customer; and
  • User-centered focus.

The process has five phases:

  1. Explore
  2. Initialize
  3. Productionalize
  4. Stabilize
  5. System test and fix

The methodology produces product turnaround in 10-week cycles and promotes Agile principles, such as frequent communication with your customer base, as well as collaborative, empowered small teams -- no more than 10 team members -- and process improvement.

Though this methodology was developed with mobility in mind, it could be used in other domains as well. Mobile-D is really a hybrid of a variety of existing Agile techniques and processes used in Agile mobile development.

In fact, Mobile-D is an example of what many teams are doing -- creating a custom Agile methodology that is appropriate for their domain and organization.

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Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) co-author Mike Lines describes DAD as a process decision framework, which helps teams pick an Agile framework and techniques that work best for a given domain. For the mobile market, Lines recommends the DAD Exploratory Lifecycle. This approach will allow for gathering feedback from a user base as the application is being developed. The exploratory lifecycle is based on Lean startup principles advocated in The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.

Mobile-D's use of continuous integration implies a mature Lean and Agile environment taking advantage of techniques described for the continuous delivery DAD lifecycle.

The bottom line is that while the Mobile-D methodology exists and can be used for mobile development, the methodology may be used in other domains. Likewise, other Agile techniques and methodologies outside of Mobile-D can be used successfully to develop mobile applications. Native Scrum, for example, could be used and might be a better choice -- particularly for a team that's new to Agile development and doesn't yet have the maturity of a continuous integration model.

One thing that's common among all Agile methodologies is the recommendation to inspect and adapt. Regardless of what methodology you start with, continue to ask the questions about what could be better and work with the team to continually improve.

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