Jharna Software: the Move to Agile Methods

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Case 1: Jharna Software: The move to Agile methods
January 20, 2009

Background & Problem Identification
Jharna Software is a software company located in India that was established in 1992, with a focus on IT services for the banking and finance sector. Its offerings include e-commerce solutions, networking solutions, offshore services, applications development, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management (CRM), e-CRM and business process outsourcing. Jharna received awards from the Indian government for performance in exports and does well in the market. The founders believe that their high-quality offerings at low price points is the key to their success, helped by their focus on maintaining a highly-skilled work force which they built by focusing on employee benefits and training. However, intense pressure from competitors has caused Jharna’s management to feel the need to improve on current practices. The primary problem in their software development process is in systems integration at the customer site. The integration process is hard to plan and consistently takes more time and resources than allocated. There were multiple theories about why, most of which focused on incomplete and changing system specs throughout development that complicated the integration phase. As a result, there was increasing interest in addressing this problem by implementing a new agile development process. The decision on whether or not to change to agile processes must be made quickly in order to allow marketing time to respond.

Decision Options & Selection Criteria
Jharna Software has two decision options: 1) change to agile development processes or 2) maintain current processes and explore other alternatives to address the system integration issues. This is not an easy decision, as there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach and differing viewpoints on the correct decision. Before any major decision is made, a set of evaluation criteria should be established against which to weigh the options. Given the information in the case study about Jharna, their current processes, their market and their goals, I propose the following decision criteria, divided into 5 major categories: 1. Processes address the issue of difficult integration at the customer site 2. Ability to meet customer needs.

This includes the following criteria: 1) Processes strive to fully uncover customer needs and include the customer in determining those needs. 2) Processes take customer needs and turn them into specific deliverables for developers in a common language/format. 3) Processes are flexible for use with multiple technologies and software languages to maximize available market. 4) Processes are compatible with customer systems and expectations 3. Compatibility with teams located at multiple sites

This includes the following criteria: 1) Processes allow clear and effective communication between sites. 2) Processes are suited to division of tasks between multiple locations. 4. Manageable and in line with Business objectives

This includes the following criteria: 1) Processes are compatible with Jharna culture. 2) Processes can be managed by current management team. 3) Processes incorporate necessary actions to maintain certifications in the case of an audit. 4) Process implementation is in line with company mission/goals. 5) Process is well understood, common problems are identifiable and action plans to address them are available. 6) Processes enable knowledge retention within the company. 7) Process implementation/maintenance is cost effective for business and customers 5. Process embodies practices that have a favorable effect on employees This includes the following criteria: 1) Processes are in line with employee retention strategies. 2) Processes allow new employees to come up to speed quickly. 3) Processes use employee skills to fullest potential.

Assessment...
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