Agile product development allows enterprises to build products in a way that responds effectively to risk, change, and uncertainty. There are self-organized teams that create quick prototypes by collaborating among themselves and with customers; agile methodology also involves them. The prototypes developed by these teams go through a repetitive cycle where customers get a chance to interact with them. They provide feedback after the interaction that is then incorporated into the product, which eventually makes the product better.
However, there are several organizations that start with Agile software development before applying agile to other activities.
Agile might seem relatively new compared to waterfall development, but its manifesto was published two decades ago. This manifesto was a document written collaboratively by seventeen leading software developers of the industry.
Boiling it down to the elementary level, agile is about making changes based on the newest information and not just following a pre-ordained plan. Customer involvement, iteration, and learning are the main hallmarks of these fast-adapting teams.
Because customer involvement is one of the hallmarks of agile development, the products remain in constant assessment throughout the development lifecycle. Waterfall development, on the other hand, is broken down into phases and has a limited scope. This perhaps is the most glaring difference between the two methods. Here are some of the features of agile development that can help understand agile in a much better way.
As mentioned in the above paragraph, assessment of the product is done throughout the development cycle. This means that the members of the development team do the work regularly.
The work done by the team on a regular basis is called ‘sprints’, and the more popular term is “iterations”. No matter how good the product looks, each aspect or phase of the development is revisited to make it even better.
In most cases, these iterations are scheduled. For example, some teams decide to re-evaluate the progress in the development and its direction every week, or after two weeks, or even a month.
The flexibility of the product definition is one of the significant demands in the market, especially with this rapidly changing customer needs. Moreover, it takes a long time to get all the needs and requirements documented. Waiting for the documentation to happen and then starting the work delays TTV (time to value). Time to value is basically the amount of time between when a consumer takes any action and when they see some sort of value of that action.
Using agile methods, the TTV decreases, which means the customers get the response to their feedback sooner.
For companies to respond rapidly to the changes, they need to have good quality teams. And over the years, scrum teams have been one of the driving factors in the success of agile. To get the best out of any group, you have to hire highly skilled people, make a dedicated leadership system for self-organizing teams, and, more importantly, clear obstacles from their path.
Agile prioritization is also quite helpful in empowering the team. It is mainly an act of deciding the order in which the team will work on the requirements of a specific project. This prioritization process can bring the best result while keeping factors like time and budget in check.
Here is a basic structure that can bring the best out of any team:
Agile allows the development of a product to happen simultaneously with the information and requirements collection. This makes it very suitable for the companies that want to launch their products in a short time. When the product is launched in a short time, it stays relevant to the market situation. Moreover, the less time developers work on the product, the less it costs.
Managers have this urge to know from time to time if their team is on the right track. It is because they are concerned about the ROI of the new product development template. With agile development, teams can define projects in such a way that it fits the strategic intent of the company and hone the product definition. After this, they can collaborate with the management to set the critical metrics of the product development in terms of cost, quality, timing, feature, etc.
Now that we know what agile can do for enterprises, it’s time we focus more on how to implement it. Here are three practical tips for enterprises to follow:
In many enterprises, there’s a separate department for each role like Software Engineering, DevOps, QA, UX, and the business stakeholders. Engineering is entirely individual. Design and UX are only involved when it’s their time to do the job. And even the business and leadership teams are not integrated.
In these cases, even a simple design and development task can consume a really long time, and even the end result might get affected. With cross-functional teams, a task that takes months can be finished in weeks only.
A cross-functional team is a team in which you bring all the roles together to build a product. All these roles are managed by a project manager, who’s also a part of the team. The main value of having a cross-functional team is that it expedites the delivery process.
According to Amazon, a cross-functional should only have that many people you can feed with two pizzas. When you have a limited number of people on the team, the management becomes much easier.
For some people, Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is nothing more than a cheap and quick way to see if the product works. But, in reality, there’s much more to it. If you also shy away from using MVP, the product you’ve probably created is not a true test of your initial idea.
The MVP has the core functions only. It does not do anything other than solving the major pain points. MVP should not be hard to use- the UX and onboarding still have to be polished to get the right feedback. In the MVP, there are no nice-to-have or complementary features. Here, the development is done in increments, and each phase has to be equally lovable to get the most effective product.
In the case of agile, you can pull multiple levers, but at the same time, you can’t pull all of them. When choosing what should stay fixed and what can be changed among budget, time, scope, and quality, go with scope without thinking twice. Reduce the scope of the product, but don’t compromise with the quality and launch it on time.
The need of the market changes constantly. When you keep on adding features, the project goes way over the budget, and deadlines become history. The more you delay the launch, the less relevant your product will be.
So, when you’ve decreased the scope, you can launch the product on time. With a timely launch, you can get feedback and then incorporate them into the product. You can implement new changes in sprints, meaning you’ll innovate faster. A fast feedback loop is one of the essential things that an enterprise should nail down.
If an enterprise has not already adopted agile, it would be best for them to do it as soon as possible. It makes things intentionally and incredibly simple. The team becomes much more productive, and the output becomes effective. If implemented well, agile product development can drive the future of the enterprise to success.