Waterfall to Agile, Multiple Vendors, and More for a Xamarin Enterprise Manufacturing Client

The Client

Our client is a global food and beverage manufacturer that has been in business for over a century. Our relationship with this client began in 2016 with a mobile application project focused on building a successful Xamarin outsource team. Over the years, the project and our team have grown to include new project ventures and team roles.  

The Project

In 2016, the main project scope was developing a system to track the client lifecycle. This included surveying sales activities starting with prospects who would then turn to real clients in addition to monitoring what equipment they would be using and buying. From there, we would be monitoring contract activities until each contract was up and then creating new ones.  

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From a technical perspective, this looked like creating a front-end mobile app and front-end web app using Xamarin and angular. As time progressed, so did the software. We added in more back-end services that performed more complex tasks and to help integrate this application with another existing application within the company.  

The Challenges

In every journey through the software development life cycle exists a set of challenges. Many challenges are commonly seen in every industry, some that can be solved by innovative programs like 4Plus1, and others are unique to your project.

In this project, we found two challenges that called for client and team collaboration and put our client and tech team’s trust to the test.   

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Challenge 1: Changes in Team Structure and Requirements

What started as a co-development project with pivoting team ratios now exists as two teams with different modules split between them. But, how did we get here? From a need for change in team structure and project requirements.

This shift led our client to hire a second vendor in an attempt to help balance the broadening scope of the project. Integrant team members are trained and experienced in working with multiple vendors within a project, so when red flags started to appear, our team caught on quickly.  

It became clear that the other vendor had less experience working with the complex dynamics occurring within the project. As time went on, our team was noticing a dramatic shift in the progression of the project. The longer this vendor team was on board, the further away they got from finishing the project. 

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Challenge 2: When to use a Waterfall vs Agile Environment

As a company, Integrant lives and breathes agile. When we came into this project in 2016, the client was using a waterfall approach instead of agile and loved it. This was slightly out of our team members’ everyday approach to software development. But, with resilience, our team shifted to waterfall to fit the project needs. 

However, there is a reason we sing the song of an agile environment - it just works! As the project scope grew and team roles were shifting it only became more clear that the environment needed to shift, too.   

The Solutions

Two big factors that play into the creation of any solutions in software development are trust communication. The client-vendor relationship is the foundation of success in any project and we prioritize the stability of this foundation in every project we take on.

One way we establish trust and communication with clients is through on-site, face-to-face meetings. In every project, we like to send team members to visit clients for a minimum of two weeks. In these two weeks, our team can develop an understanding of the client’s company culture, make a personal connection with the client and team(s) they’ll be working with directly, and establish a face for the team working offshore.

We find that this time spent face-to-face with clients sets essential building blocks that make the foundation of our relationships stable. Once communication channels and trust is built and the relationship progresses, the client can worry less as we take on more roles. The solutions to the challenges in this project were heavily influenced by our foundation of trust and line of communication with our client.  

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Solution to Changes in Team Structure and Requirements

Thanks to the relationship we established at the forefront of the project, our communication lines were always up and running. When we knew there was not any help we could provide to the other vendor to get them up to speed with how a project to this scope works, we reached out to the client to have a tough conversation regarding our concerns. 

Eventually, our client also took notice of the lack of progress by the other vendor team and ultimately removed them from the project. With our help, we shared a new project plan complete with an ultimate release date that was the same as the original. Fortunately, through the grit and a one-team mindset, we were able to back on track and made up for lost time.   

Solution to Working in a Waterfall Environment

Since our client preferred the waterfall environment, our team worked within it for as long as possible. Eventually, the project came to a certain point where waterfall was no longer equipped to handle the scope of the project.  

It was the trust we had previously established with the client that made them finally feel secure enough to make the switch to agile. Our client used an agile coach and along with our team, we began the transition from waterfall to agile. While it may have been a long time coming, the transition has proved its worth and made the progression of the project much smoother. 

Wrap Up

It goes without saying that every great relationship starts with trust and open conversations. Our efforts to create stable foundations for our client relationships have not gone to waste. It’s times like these where challenges are set before us that we’re able to showcase and lean on our teams’ excellent trust and communication skills.

If you find your software projects facing similar challenges or are looking to start a new project with an outsourcing vendor you can trust, set up a free consultation with one of our Integrant experts today.  

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