Dec 1, 2017

If you have heard a lot about Agile and several popular methodologies of Agile like Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Startup and still not clear about what do they mean for you (as a client or a product manager/owner or an app/software maker), then this is for you.

Consider this scenario. You have invested a humongous amount of effort in developing a product, spending anywhere from a few months to a whole year or more perfecting all the features. As you go to market, you realize that the results of all your efforts are either redundant or in need of complete overhaul. Unanticipated changes ranging from client needs to market expectations, technology trends, or even company strategy have made your product obsolete or unsuitable for your needs. (Read about the Instagram story for example)

This is no uncommon experience. In our fast-paced world, it has become vital for businesses to adapt swiftly to ever-changing technological and marketing landscapes. The response to this challenge is Agile.

To practice Agile methodology means to deliver incremental and iterative shippable product at frequent intervals (called sprints).

Agile is a lightweight software development methodology that evolved in response to the failings of traditional waterfall method of product development and project management. In 2001, a group of 17 software developers got together and published Manifesto for Agile Software Development establishing the guiding principles of the Agile methodology. Before we look at why Product Development is best with agile, it makes a good sense to study those guidelines and principles – which answer several questions as to why Agile?

Guidelines

1. Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

4. Responding to change over following a plan

Principles

1. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

2. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

3. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

4. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

5. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

6. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

7. Agile processes promote sustainable development.

8. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

How does Agile work?

Steve Denning, talking about Agile: The World’s Most Popular Innovation Engine, writes in a Forbes article:

Work is organized in self-organizing teams in short cycles aimed at continuous improvement. The management is responsible for removing impediments in the team’s work and doesn’t interrupt the team during a work cycle. The team reports in effect to the customer, not the manager: The customer’s priorities are systematically analyzed and fed into the work of the team. The team itself estimates how much time work will take, how much work it can do in an iteration, as well as how to do the work in the iteration.

Performance is measured by customers or customer-proxies. Work goals are defined before each cycle starts. The lessons learned in each iteration are systematically captured in retrospectives and used in future iterations. In this way, the products are not only constantly improved: the process for developing them also improves.

You can also know more about Agile methodology in product development here.

The clear advantages of Agile for product development

1. While the waterfall method is known for its simplicity and discipline, its emphasis on sequential order discourages flexibility. In contrast, the Agile methodology encourages collaboration and adaptability by working in small increments of time and scope.

2. Since the determination of requirements in the waterfall product development happens at the very beginning, it may result in a product that no longer matches client needs, especially if subsequent phases take up long periods of time. As opposed to this, in Agile, development is divided into “sprints,” or small increments of the product that are completed one at a time. To deliver a product increment, the Development Team goes through an entire product development sequence within each “sprint.” This means that all stakeholders (management, Product Owner/Manager, Marketing and Client) must meet to determine the requirements of each sprint. This enables complete alignment and greater collaboration.

3. Client involvement is vital to the success of an agile project. Regular consultations between development and client ensure that their needs are heard regularly and that changes can be implemented earlier. Additionally, actively keeping the client in discussions throughout a project rather than merely revisiting client interests at the end means that essential pieces of functionality will not be neglected.

4. Documentation of product requirements from the client’s point of view and periodic iteration means that we have a system of prioritization that meets the client needs and quickly provides value.

5. Testing the key value proposition (or feature) first and progressively adding features based on client response means that budgets stay under control and revenues are predictable.

Made up your mind about Agile? Looking for a technology partner who can execute product development for you (Mobile/Web/IOT) using Agile? Have a chat with us. We, the team of Hakuna Matata, work for the happiness of our customers – happiness through excellence!

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