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SaaS Requires Agile Methods, Group Says

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) developers should toss out their traditional waterfall development approach, according to a new white paper from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Instead, the SaaS Executive Council of the SIIA thinks you should be doing something a bit more "agile."

The waterfall approach is typified by the big-design-up-front model, with lots of steps for the development team to complete in a fixed sequence. Along the way, there are reams of documentation to produce.

However, that approach just doesn't work for SaaS development, according to the SaaS Executive Council of the SIIA, which has released "The Agile Imperative for SaaS" white paper.

Traditional models of development are too slow in delivering customer uptake, usage and sales blocker info to product management and engineering divisions. The group estimates it would take about six to eight months for this to happen using plan-driven waterfall methods.

The alternative -- agile programming -- typically favors smaller development teams, face-to-face meetings and less documentation, with the team focusing on accomplishing smaller, releasable software changes.

The "Agile Imperative for SaaS" white paper focuses on what the engineering team needs to do in a SaaS development effort. It describes the agile process as advocated by the Xprogramming community, the Scrum Alliance and DSDM.

"By leveraging Agile methods, SaaS providers can reduce cycle times to weeks, adjust rapidly to customer feedback and move testing to the front of the process," stated Ryan Martens, founder and CTO of Rally Software, and coauthor of the white paper.

The paper is posted for SIIA members only at http://www.siia.net/software/groups/SaaS_Agile_0307.pdf .

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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