Agile – A new way of Product Development

Back in the waterfall days, the projects used to take more than 6 months to 2 years. The waterfall methodology was a sequential phased approach where one phase used to be done when the previous phase was completed. There were the different phases like analysis, design, development, testing, User acceptance testing and deployment to production environment.

The problem with the waterfall approach was that the entire process would take so much time that by the time the final product is getting delivered, the set of requirements that was originally planned would not be completely relevant. The customer involvement is more in the beginning of the project where the requirements are all laid out, but they are not involved in the project till the UAT phase starts. If the customer needs some changes to be done which are crucial from the perspective of competitive advantage, then they need to follow the lengthy and time consuming process of change management which would impact scope, time and cost in a small or big way depending on when the changes are introduced.

Agile Approach

In the agile approach to product development, the project is done in an iterative and incremental way where the small piece of the overall scope is completed in each iteration. The development team creates a working product in each iteration which can be used(and tested) by the customer and stakeholders to ensure that it satisfies the requirements taken up for that iteration. By this approach, the customer can give a feedback on the working product developed by the team which can be incorporated by them in the next iteration. Changes are much easier to be introduced in Agile since they can be taken up in the next few iterations depending on importance and urgency of these changes.

Compared with traditional project management approaches, agile offers several major benefits, all of which have been studied and documented. It increases team productivity, coordination and employee satisfaction. It reduces the waste present in redundant meetings, inconsistent planning, excessive documentation, quality defects, and low-value product features.By improving visibility, transparency and continually adapting to customers’ changing priorities, agile improves customer engagement and satisfaction, brings the most valuable features and products to market faster with greater predictability, and reduces risk.

By engaging team members from multiple disciplines as one focused team, it spreads organizational experience and fosters mutual trust and respect. By significantly reducing the time spent on managing functional projects,it allows senior executives to work more fully to higher-value added work: developing and adjusting the corporate vision; prioritizing strategic initiatives; aligning work in accordance to the strategic imperatives; funding high priority projects, assigning the right people to projects; increasing cross-functional collaboration; and removing organizational impediments to progress.

Agile promotes collaboration and innovation. In today’s highly dynamic environments, companies need to turn out new products and services much more quickly than their competitors and thereby grab the first mover’s advantage. This leads to greater and faster market domination and higher profitability. By embracing Agile, companies can create a trust-based environment where teams can bring in new ideas, get better feedback, experiment, learn and recover swiftly and churn out innovations.