How to develop quickly and efficiently? Agile development explained.

Rafał Szczech
08 August 2018

With 3 startups founded every second somewhere in the world, a traditional approach to software development stops being enough to stay in the game. That’s why we need Agile development - flexible and quick approach focused on clients and teamwork.

We need to change to keep up: we need Agile development

It’s thought that traditional approaches to software development are fast enough. However, today’s ‘fast enough’ may not be enough for tomorrow and the business is changing quicker than ever. It’s reported that the rate of change in the world has accelerated dramatically over the past years, especially over the past 10. Gasoline states that 3 new startups are founded globally every second! That makes up for 11,000 per hour and 259,200 per day! Even though that number is lower for the U.S. alone (3 startups per minute on average), that pace is still a real threat for all kinds of businesses.

The conclusion seems to be obvious - we have to keep up with the accelerating rate of change. If we don’t, we’ll stop being competitive. Speed’s the advantage - teams need a methodology that helps build software quicker and at lower costs. That’ll result in gaining a competitive advantage on a fast-moving market.

Agile means doing right things right (and fast)

Agile development gives us the ability to respond to changes quickly and that’s its main advantage over the traditional approaches. We know how to change thanks to closer than ever collaboration with clients - we listen to them, we observe their behavior and try to implement it in the software. Frequent changes mean frequent deliveries possible thanks to improved teamwork as it’s common to meet up daily and discuss everything right away.

In others words, Agile means that we gather often, we communicate a lot, we change things quickly and we deliver more, more frequently. Agile works great with the lean startup methodology - it’s perfect for rapid MVP development. We build MVPs on a regular basis here at Startup Development House and can’t imagine doing that without agile approach.

To fully understand the new approach, let’s look into the basics of the traditional ones.

Traditional approaches fail when anything changes

The conventional project approaches consist of one big process. We gather all the requirements, design everything, build the product, verify it and go to market. That’s what we call a waterfall model. But what if something changes during the process? It’s almost impossible to remain flexible during those massive phases. Because of the length of a whole process, a product launched as a result may not have a value for consumers anymore what makes a product worthless. Users’ needs change fast and stories defined only once in the very beginning may not be valid now.

 

 

Waterfalls lack constant feedback (idea validation), they require a lot of time to deploy new features and results cannot be seen until the end of a project. Wasting our time and money on developing a product that fails is definitely not a thing we want to do.

I’ve worked with waterfall models in the past, I’ve seen how those processes look like in big companies and I don’t dream about doing it again, for real. Believe me or not, you wouldn’t as well.

It’s all about being flexible

Agile is different. We still collect requirements and make a backlog (a list of features, user stories) out of them, but we don’t develop them all at once and we often add more during development. We split them into groups which we will build later during sprints.

 

 

A sprint consists of a number of small stages (plan, design, develop, test, deploy, review, launch) done in a short period of time (a day or a week). After finishing all of them the whole process is repeated for another group of features. Each sprint results in launching something - usually a new product version, some features or a part of a project. We get real results right away.

Responding to feedback is the key

We can change anything, we can always add new user stories and we can check new features with every launch, that is the end of each sprint. There are as many sprints as required to develop all things on the backlog gathered at the beginning of the project. Once a usable release is built, the project is ready for implementation. And it’s ready promptly.

 

One of the most important things about adopting Agile is attaining a feedback loop which allows us to validate the ideas and to answer new needs. We verify the product with every sprint getting the knowledge we need to improve it.

This was very helpful when we were building our startups. Plans for them looked very differently at the beginning, but once we started developing and testing them with potential users, we found out that we needed some changes. And it wouldn’t be possible with waterfall model where users get the final product after months or even years of development and don’t get a chance to look at it before launching.

Everyone benefits from Agile

Choosing agile approach for development results in enhanced quality of the product, higher productivity of the whole team and reduced time-to-market (products are ready to launch quicker than ever). People working on the project are more satisfied with the job and more engaged in the whole process since they’re always up to date, they know exactly what they should be doing and they have a real impact on the development. Everyone is just happier.

What’s the most important is that the methodology helps with improving customer satisfaction by delivering better quality products in less time. We’re able to see the benefits of adopting agile development probably within the first three to six months and certainly within the first year. And we’re talking about serious improvements here: it is possible to double the number of released features and to deliver a few times more value to customers compared to previous years.

Any comment you want to share with us? Drop us a line: hello@start-up.house

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