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How Agile Can Bring Innovation To Customers Faster

By

Louie Pitlo

|

March 9, 2017

While the concept of Agile may have started out as a software development technique, the concept has now spread across other areas of business as well as product development. Businesses have become very successful using the Agile process in marketing, product development and even creative projects. For instance, Oreo’s 'You can still dunk in the dark' Tweet during the Super Bowl outage has become a legend. It happened with a team put together using the Agile approach.

But what is the Agile approach, anyway?

The overall objective of the Agile approach is to generate a functional product in a faster turnaround time, and this has been successful because the client is involved in every step of the way of the product development and is encouraged to provide feedback. Then changes are made depending on their feedback. This way, the client gets exactly what he wants and so zero rejection

How the Agile Process works?

The Agile approach is characterised by small functional teams, faster turnaround time, the ability to make decisions, testing early and often, and encouraging feedback at every step of the way. The team must be empowered to make decisions.

Developing a product by small functional teams who brainstorms for the most viable ideas, fast project delivery, more ability to make decisions, QA early and often, and encouraging feedback every project milestone is part of the Agile process which is repeated at every step until the client has a product that they are completely satisfied with.

The 3-Step process to using the Agile approach

With the Agile process, it all takes setting up a 3-step process that takes care of these issues.

Step 1: Ask -> Analyze -> Discover

During a meeting, find out as much as you can about your client’s company, find out their project goals, and what do they envision, and what result they need to get for them to consider it a success. Use their answers to these questions to analyse and discover the scope of the project. Capture requirements at a high level; lightweight & visual. After that figure out which techniques and tools you need to make the client's vision a reality. Then show your findings to your client to make sure you’re both on the same page and encourage feedback. Once you have the client’s feedback, move on to the next step.

Step 2:  Imagine -> Think -> Plan

Now that you got all the critical details you need to start and develop the project, come up with a plan and create a work breakdown list that needs to be taken using agile planning tools such as scrum agile software. Visualise what your workflow is and look at all the items in a context of each other can be very informative. Try to limit the amount of work in progress such as work-in-progress. This helps balance the flow-based approach so teams don‘t start and commit to too much work at once.

Keep in mind that requirements evolve but the timescale is fixed.

After creating a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller components with a brief explanation of what will happen at each step, present it to the client for feedback. Once you have that, it’s time to move to the third and final step.

Step 3: Design -> Develop -> Sprint

When you finally receive the approval on the plan, you may start to design and develop the project. Again, the client is actively involved during the designing and development of the project. Then based on the client’s feedback, go back to the brainstorming document and make the required changes. Complete each feature before moving on to the next.

In product development projects, it typically involves sketching, prototyping, review, visual design, and testing. At each and every milestone, develop small, incremental releases and iterate. Go back for a review and depending on the client's feedback. Complete each feature before moving on to the next. Testing is integrated throughout the project lifecycle – test early and often. Remember that an active user involvement is imperative.

This entire process is repeated until the client is 100% satisfied with the project. A collaborative & cooperative approach between all stakeholders is essential.

In summary, see below flowchart of scrum process overview:

Today’s enterprise solutions are complicated according to the rapid change in business needs. The agile methodologies which are adaptable to change, people-oriented, speedy and responsive are well suited to software development project. However, you should consider which agile methods are beneficial for the company or some specific projects and select different agile methods for different projects or just customise any features that match the condition of the company and the projects.

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