Let’s look at why agile development makes sense for your business. As a business owner, you’re continuously looking for ways to increase revenue and increase profits, which means most of the time you’re also trying to decrease costs. The beauty of the current digital landscape is that it is suitable to solve those needs and so much more. This is especially true when it comes to creating systems that you, your staff, your customers and potential customers can autonomously transact with as much as possible.
What kind of systems am I talking about? A basic web application that allows new clients to send you their details (securely) without having to download and print a pesky form. How about a system which helps you get rid of those spreadsheets you have that often have conflicts with other people working on it, which occasionally someone messes up the formula you spent weeks perfecting? Another great example would be breaking down the barriers of a physical business and allowing people to purchase your product or service from wherever they are (it could be a physical product, a digital product, a service or course that you offer – the list goes on).
Right, so I might already be preaching to the converted or I’ve got you believing that a solution can be built that will convert your business into a well-oiled machine. Either way, you’re probably wondering how you build that system or application that will solve whatever problem you’re facing. Naturally, the first step is to actually just get going. The next step is to build it properly. This is where, I believe, the agile development makes sense. My first post in this series covers a lot of the aspects as to why the old style of development is dead and how you can benefit from it. In this post, I want to dig deeper into just how much your business can benefit.
Reasons why agile development makes sense for your business
1. Break away from assumptions
In a highly competitive world, assumptions can break your business. Yet, there is so much data around that can assist business owners to make the right decision and, more importantly, you can gain a lot of insight by assessing that data from current processes and every new process (think feature) built going forward.
This is where agile takes flight – solve one problem now, not all of them, and use the new data to assess the impact of that solution and to inform the decision for the next phase of your project. On that note, it sometimes makes sense to overlap the solutions you are implementing because waiting for data from the first solution might stagnate the project, which is frustrating for everyone including the developers.
2. Build fast, fix fast
This leads me to a very important foundation of agile. As the name alludes to, you need to get going quickly and be able to react quickly. This doesn’t mean we can pivot at every opportunity, but it does mean that we’re not stuck on train tracks going in the wrong direction (often the direction you need to be going in isn’t always clear at the onset – I can give you a ton of examples of this if you ask in the comments).
So how does this look? In agile, we use user stories to define a problem that needs to be solved (more on this in a later post). The user story won’t be: “As a business owner, I want to consolidate my accounting, ecommerce platform, WMS and billing platform into one system”. The reason is that it would take months to build and hundreds of meetings to clarify exactly how the system should work.
So, how do we improve that user story? How do we build fast? What you’d want to do is look at what is causing a big headache right now. What is wasting your time? An example could be: “As an accountant, I want to have all orders from the ecommerce platform generate an invoice on our accounting platform, so that I don’t waste days every month recording it manually”. A developer can quickly see what needs to be done and, with a small amount of clarity, can get that feature implemented. This gives you prompt results whilst planning the next important user stories.
Another great feature is that you can also fix a feature early on as you can see exactly how it will work without it getting lost in a list of a hundred other new features that were released. So maybe we couldn’t just generate an invoice with one line item and we need to actually itemise the invoice for auditing purposes.
3. Don’t waste money on hopes and dreams
We have seen this happen over and over again. Sadly, we have had a couple of client projects which were massive and had a lot of money thrown at them. Either they have stagnated because they’re not really solving problems or they’re doing alright… well the 20% of the system that is being used that is.
With agile you’re not committing to a year’s worth of work or a predefined specification. You’re committing to solve each problem as you go. Your objective is to improve your business to a point where you are happy and the development team’s objective is to make sure that those problems are actually being solved. As a business owner, don’t be surprised if you’re now a couple years down the road already but are extremely happy as your business is flying and you’re getting home to your family before the sun goes down.
These three reasons define why we believe agile development makes sense. It’s positioned to make sure that true value is delivered on an ongoing basis and a tight partnership is formed between the business and the development team. It’s often the case that there is a passionate desire in the development team to see the project reach goals and milestones. It’s taking away that “we never agreed to do this” and changing it to “let’s see if this is good for your business and then let’s find out how soon we can implement it”. If you’re wanting to build any sort of system or web application, I would highly recommend finding developers that only apply the agile development methodology to client projects. Agile development makes sense for every business.
Contact us if you would like to embark on an agile development journey with us.