Atern differs from more common agile approaches as it encompasses the entire project lifecycle and not just software development (where Scrum prevails).  It incorporates project management disciplines and provides mechanisms to ensure that the project benefits are clear, the proposed solution is feasible and  there are solid foundations in place before detailed work is started.

There are seven phases to an Atern project:

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Phase

Description

Pre-project Initiation of the project, agreeing the Terms of Reference for the work
Feasibility Typically a short phase to assess the viability and the outline business case (justification).
Foundations Key phase for ensuring the project is understood and defined well enough so that the scope can be baselined at a high level and the technology components and standards agreed, before the development activity begins.
Exploration Iterative development phase during which teams  expand on the high level requirements to demonstrate the functionality
Engineering Iterative development phase where the solution is engineered to be deployable for release
Deployment For each Increment (set of timeboxes) of the project the solution is made available.
Post-project Assesses the accrued benefits.

 

The Exploration and Engineering phases are often merged as the method is flexible, allowing them to be organized to best suit the situation. Some examples are provided below:

Illustrates iterative development with the solution evolving over a number of Exploration- Engineering cycles before Deployment of an increment.

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Completes all Exploration activities prior to commencing the Engineering activities. The timeboxed Iterative Development occurs within the stage as opposed to the previous and following example. This approach is not to be confused with a traditional waterfall approach.

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Combines Exploration and Engineering work to deliver fully engineering subsets of the end product in a single pass.

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Reflects a more complex scenario with two teams involved. For simplicity, two teams are shown but, in practice, several teams could be involved if the size and complexity requires them. One team concentrates on exploratory work and the other on engineering. In this example, the Exploration team might deliver prototypes of the solution to the Engineering team who then build solutions for Deployment.

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