Even though it sounds like a TV ad, you don’t need to make a call and order a Food Processor 9000 for that matter. In fact, nothing really factual has to be done: often it’s only an adjustment or transformation for your project that is missing so that you can take an advantage of the Agile practices at any stage.
Agile is no stranger to the business world and has firmly established itself as a vital part of countless tech ventures. Whether you’re familiar with the software development or not, it’s very likely that you have come across this term multiple times.
Essentially, it’s about adding structure and flexibility simultaneously to the projects under which it will be divided into many phases, called iterations or sprints. Each of them will have a feasible goal where some functionality has to be added, and the whole “roadmap” can be fluid or non-existent at all.
At its basic level, Agile allows for flexible planning, evolutionary development, early deployment, continuous improvement and allows for the fast and drastic changes that occur during the project’s lifespan.
So, enough with the platitudes — let’s view how this methodology can be used in practice and boost your productivity by a whopping 1000% margin:
It’s hard to imagine even a fast-paced project that would last less than 5 months. Just by the numbers, Agile methodology, with its common 2-week iterations, could give you a sizable edge of 10x faster delivery time. Upon that deadline, each time-box will contain its own project features: planning, designing, code writing, and product testing.
Despite how absurd this sounds, we’ve come across numerous instances when the lack of a feasible goal in the immediate future could lead to a sizable decrease in the motivation/performance, so that the production had to be intervened promptly. Sometimes the 2-week iteration can be more productive than a half-year cycle with no proper goals set.
Agile allows for flexible planning, evolutionary development, early deployment, continuous improvement and allows for the fast and drastic changes that occur during the project’s lifespan.
Whether it’s a large-scale or small project, there’s always a space for Agile implementation: it can be fractured into self-organizing and cross-functional teams in large companies, while the smaller ventures can do fine with just a scrum-master, product owner, and a bunch of developers/testers.
Drop the dead
As mentioned previously, flexibility is the bread and butter of Agile, so it allows you to get rid of the burden that is no longer relevant in terms of the project. In our practice, we can barely name a project that would follow all the initial goals, regardless of its scale — what started as an online retail shop could end up being a successful blockchain platform.
This is a crucial feature for startups that often operate within tight financial gaps: being able to only focus on the relevant things will help them move quickly toward reaching goals that will pay off in the near future.
The technology is changing every day, and even during a 2-week iteration, some of the features may become obsolete. When using Agile in dedicated development teams, it applies the same rule to the staff, as their contracts can be discontinued depending on how actual their skills are.
Agile has allowed countless startups to survive when those who preferred a rigid approach simply evaporated due to bloated invoices for the outdated technologies and goals. The techno-pace has skyrocketed, and you gotta keep up with it; if anything, even IoT may be viewed as an outdated rudiment by its most advanced enthusiasts.
Scrum, being the most common Agile framework, became a cornerstone for the methodology. During daily Scrum meetings, the team gets to decide which goals have been achieved and what has to be done prior to the next day.
The main unit here is a Scrum Master (SM) who can unite all the features that the entire management team could possess. Depending on a team composition, the SM can act as team leader, project manager, facilitator, and in some cases, product owner. In fact, the majority of them have one of the aforementioned roles as their primary position outside of the Scrum, which allows for reducing an expensive staff to a single competent unit.
The daily face-to-face cooperation has proven to be a great way for software development when you have designated roles and a person who represents the clients’ needs. By involving each member of a small team in a live discussion, you can keep everyone engaged and motivated thanks to a good SM. It’s hard to express in sheer numbers, but the fellowship between teammates is often what keeps them moving forward instead of the monetary incentives.
Although there’s a standalone Agile QA methodology and the teams often include testers, you can have a different approach on this topic.
Agile can also allow for taking advantage of getting feedback from a small group of unaffiliated people. Constant product updates raise the interest in your product and attract an outside audience that can try it out. This can help you vastly reduce the QA-related expenses and rely on end-users’ replies about whether some features should stay or not and understand what is currently demanded on the market. This practice has been borrowed by many industries — even games are now hard to imagine without CTE (Community Test Environment) servers. Showcasing the software to customers can serve as part of a marketing activity, even without spending a good amount for it, if the quality is high enough, of course.
It will also mitigate the number of bugs by the end of each iteration or when the full product will be deployed
Documentation is a static thing by nature, so Agile neglects it for a number of reasons. Not only do you not have to hire a technical writer, but also the devs are free from this uninspiring activity. In a fast-paced scenario, docs get outdated very fast, let alone the fluid projects’ goals.
Introducing new crew members — the very purpose of the documentation — is better replaced with daily meetings. It is a great way to get the freshmen acquainted with the project instead of relying on doc data that can already be outdated by that moment.
In truth, all of the above could be fit into a single phrase: “results first.”
And rightfully so, as the techno-world is evolving at a high pace, and the time when you could develop a project for years without adjusting and exposing it are long gone.