A key ingredient of the Agile project strategy is to divide a single project into several ‘time-boxed’ or discrete periods. These periods are known as ‘sprints’ and they allow performance to be appraised at set time intervals, usually of one to three weeks. Agile is a powerful strategy since regular appraisal enables client analysis and scrutiny of software while it is still emerging. The insight gained from this type of approach can prove invaluable as a client can drive improvement of their product at any stage. Agile’s popularity over the more traditional Waterfall Method of Management may be due, at least in part, to the ability of the client to participate in product creation.
Incorporating Agile projects into your strategy may lessen the deployment time of your product, at the same time as delivering improved customer satisfaction for you client. Although this approach requires constant feedback, the overall cost of the project may actually be reduced.
The key features of Agile are as follows:
Client Involvement. The constant involvement of the client with the software development team adds value in the form of a reduced workload and a product which is more analogous to their specifications.
Continuous Feedback. Feedback collection during each sprint phase significantly reduces the number of revisions required at the end of the project. Indeed changes following completion of the development process are generally more time-consuming and expensive to implement.
Reduced Cost. Development tasks can be prioritized according to the requirements of the client and the stage of the process. The adaptive nature of this approach means that focus can quickly be shifted to those areas which add most value for the client.
Early Project Deployment. Consistent review and planning allow this method to speed up productivity and reduce the overall number of revisions. The Agile management style consistently results in a shorter deployment timescale, fewer errors, less revisions and higher customer satisfaction.
Although customers know what they want, they often lack the ability to plan every aspect of a project in advance. Using traditional methods of software development, you would prepare a ‘scope document’ which software developers would use to complete the project before handing the results to the client. However, this approach often results in problems as a client is unlikely to have been able to foresee every detail of what is essentially an extremely complex process.
Agile allows the client to review the project on completion of each ‘sprint’ phase, thereby affording them a preview of the software in action. Feedback may alter the scope of the project, but this ultimately aids customer satisfaction. A further benefit of Agile is that you don’t require a fully comprehensive scope document at the start of each project. Rather, an interim quote can be obtained and the project started with only a bullet point summary from the client. As the project proceeds, budgets and timescales can be altered to fit changes to the specifications.
Overall, Agile allows organizations to function in a more efficient manner by clearly defining employee tasks in relation to a client’s changing project stipulations. This, therefore, eliminates missed deadlines, unnecessary work, and overspending, all of which can paralyze any organization.