How Could Agile Methodology Transform Your Business?

Organisations need to adapt faster than ever before. They are looking out into a marketplace which continues to modernise and are required to develop products and services that meet the changing demands of customers. It is all too easy to have our attention drawn so much to outputs that we overlook the inputs, processes and other influences on an end product.

We want to draw your attention to what is going on inside your business. What are your ways of working? How could they be adapted to help you achieve your business strategy? Could your business achieve more by adopting an Agile methodology on the right projects?

If you would like to know more about what Agile means, have a look at our blog The Agile Manifesto Explained in Five Minutes. If you are already up to speed, stick with us as we discuss the ways that using an Agile methodology can transform your business’s projects and deliver for your customers.

How does Agile save time?

A key principle of Agile methodology is “working software over comprehensive documentation” (you can replace the word software with whatever your project is aiming to deliver – Agile is not just for IT projects.) Spending weeks (or even months) designing an all singing, all dancing solution with detailed design documents before developing anything adds immensely to the overall time and cost of the project but generally adds little to no value. We often justify this time by claiming it will improve the final product… However more often than not the documentation is not used due to requirement changes or issues during development and is therefore wasted anyway. Agile teams would instead focus their energy on building a solution “iteratively”, making sure there is just enough documentation to support, with the priority being value-adding development.

Of course, as with any project delivery methodology there will still be errors during Agile projects, but these are easier to trace as they will have taken place more recently. Moreover, Agile methodology aims to minimise technical debt. Much like financial debt, technical debt is generally an issue that grows over time and so the longer it is left, the more time is required to fix it. For example, if a system defect is missed during development on a project being managed using a traditional Waterfall methodology, it would require developers to spend more time diagnosing the issue upon discovery, and re-learning code in order to fix it.  Had it been identified earlier, the time required to fix it would have likely been far less. The iterative development and release principle of Agile methodology means that defects are found and more easily rectified, as the root cause can often be pin pointed to the latest release.

How does Agile save costs?

Agile teams deliver work regularly and in iterations, with the end product broken down into smaller batches of a pre-determined time period (known as sprints), starting with a minimum viable product (MVP). Over a few weeks they will develop a key aspect of the product and release it for testing and feedback. Subsequently, they will draw on this feedback to plan the next development iteration.

Using Agile as a project delivery methodology could help your business get away from putting unnecessary effort and budget into long design and development phases to end up with a product that doesn’t meet your business or client needs. Agile approaches look to avoid this common pitfall of over-engineering solutions and spending extortionate amounts of money before even entering the development phase.

 How does Agile increase quality?

The last thing businesses want to do is spend their resources on developing a product or solution which does not work for the end user. You might think that following a rigorous process to gather requirements before development starts and by having a really thorough understanding of what your end user wants would decrease the risk of this happening. Not necessarily, as requirements can change over time and what if the outcome the end user thinks is really needed just doesn’t work in practice?

A key point in the Agile Manifesto is ‘working outputs being delivered frequently’. In a practical sense this means breaking down the development of your product into iterative development periods (sprints), whereby at the end of each sprint there is a working solution for you to test with the end user. Bringing a user’s requirements to life and giving them the opportunity to test will mean they can provide really valuable feedback that you can act upon during the development process. This ultimately means that the finished product is of far more value to those it is designed for.

In our next blog of this series we discuss Three Ways to Implement Agile Within Your Business. For more information contact EstherM@NineFeetTall.com

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