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Can Startups Benefit from Agile Development?

Can Startups Benefit from Agile Development?

Change - Agile Development
Agile development is a common methodology used to approach development projects. It takes a flexible, teamwork-based approach to development that has proven to be very successful.

But what about startups?

Can a startup firm in the technology sector benefit from the application of Agile methodology?

To answer this question, we will first need to explore the unique challenges facing startups.

The Nature of Startup Life

A startup firm is often loosely defined as a new business that is not profitable, and the business owners are okay with that – it is a time to innovate, grow, and develop.

It is worth noting that being part of a startup can be very exciting. For instance:

  • Things are constantly changing each day.
  • Everything moves along quickly.
  • You are working on ‘the next big thing.’
  • You are surrounded by creativity and passion.

Unfortunately, because of the excitement, rapid growth, and abundance of creative ideas, challenges are likely to arise as well.

  • The business does not have a defined roadmap.
  • Approaches to development are disorganized and chaotic.
  • Early market reactions do not provide sufficient data to adjust long-term strategies.

And these are just to name a few. An infographic published by Clarity offers a very comprehensive list of struggles faced by many new startups:

The missing key to successful growth for most startups is to have an action plan for development – one that is flexible and dynamic.

At first glance, it appears that Agile development methodology may be an effective solution.

What Makes Agile Development Methodology Effective

Agile development allows for flexibility, especially if immediate change is required. The core concepts of this development model include the use of sprints, backlogs, daily standup meetings, and user stories.

Let’s review each.

  • User stories – Feedback from users serves as a leading indicator in terms of what needs to happen next
  • Sprints – These are short phases of development that are planned with input from the entire team. A single sprint can be as short as a week
  • Backlogs – These are complete lists of priorities and next steps that need to be addressed. The items appearing on a backlog often originate from user stories
  • Daily standup meetings – Sometimes referred to as scrum meetings, daily standups identify what needs to be done, and any issues that need to be collaborated on that day for fast resolution

In short, the Agile method is an effective approach because it breaks down development into small pieces. From documentation to testing, newly developed features can be ready for deployment in as little as a week.

This contributes to increased transparency, team synergy, and effective problem solving.

The Process of Agile Development

To get a better understanding of how Agile methodology is applied to development projects, let’s review the steps necessary to successfully complete a single print:

  • The development team meets and creates a backlog
  • The team defines their next burst of development – a sprint
  • User stories help to identify who will be responsible for different components in the sprint
  • The sprint begins
  • Daily standup meetings are held, allowing each team member to state his or her progress, projected progress, and any outstanding challenges
  • At the end of the sprint, what went did and did not go well is reviewed

From there, the process repeats itself.

The beauty of Agile development is that it permits everyone on the team to provide input, ask questions, and gain a greater understanding of the intended outcome.

It is a fun, engaging, and teamwork-based approach to development.

Does Agile Methodology Work for Startups?

To answer this question, let’s compare several factors.

  • Startups require development to happen quickly.
  • Agile methodology breaks development into short sprints.
  • Startup teams work very closely together.
  • Agile methodology takes a teamwork-based approach to problem solving.
  • Startups depend upon every individual to contribute ideas.
  • Agile methodology requires input from every team member.
  • Startups depend upon user feedback to define priorities.
  • Agile methodology has teams develop backlogs based on user stories.

In conclusion, Agile development methodology is a perfect fit for most startups. It helps to alleviate the chaos and disorganization that startup teams often face.

Final Thought

As with any project, a clear roadmap for success and a structured approach to development goes a long way.

Choosing to implement the Agile method in your startup provides a way to keep things moving quickly, maintain a teamwork based atmosphere, and ensure that every team member has a say.

The key to Agile methodology, whether your development team is on-site or offshore, is segmenting large projects into smaller pieces, and maintaining clear communication between all team members.

Do you believe the Agile method is a good fit for your startup?

Why, or not why?

Leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you.

Outsourcing Agile Development – Make it work!

The web has changed over the past few years – the amount of things we can now do online, as well as the way we construct our day-to-day lives around the web and communication, has meant that different software development techniques in the digital sphere have risen to prominence in recent years.

Let’s explore a blend of two different types of development techniques – Outsourcing along with Agile Development

Where does outsourcing agile development fit in for me?

A distributed environment, one where not all work is completed in the same space, has become commonplace within today’s businesses, and for agile development as a process to work efficiently has to be able to work well in this environment.

Fortunately, with the right lines of communication in place, distributed agile development adds a huge amount of value when outsourcing work, no matter where you are. The collaboration and relationship of a distributed team adds up a great deal – and it can fit right in to your team as long as you follow some essential guidelines on how to make distributed agile development work for you.

  • Created ‘rich’ lines of communication to counteract the relatively small amount of quality face-to-face time with distributed work
  • Create frequent deliverables within a distributed agile environment
  • Get clear, well-written guidelines and objectives so everyone knows what to expect.

Faster and more flexible delivery

There are many key features of agile development that mean many major companies in the software development and IT industries are adopting this way of thinking.

The table below indicates some features and benefits of agile development – as well as some of the challenges that you may across in the process of making outsourcing work for your business.

Why agile development outsourcing is popular

Outsourcing any software development gives a business a wealth of options – it opens up the market to be able to choose from a wide range of amazing talent from all sectors of society in almost any part of the world.

Outsourcing also gives you the ability to monitor the quality of your development, plan and give certain tasks to others, and manage your costs by choosing from a wider workforce pool. With online working and the popularity of remote working, outsourcing agile development and finding creative working solutions to tasks means there is a lot more time for you and your business to concentrate on the bottom line.

Outsourcing Agile Development – Weighing up the Options

In order to be able to make the most of your outsourcing options, there will inevitably be a certain amount of advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few things you or your business may want to think about.

Your motives for outsourcing

You need to be clear at all stages of the process why you want to outsource work and what benefit is for you or your business. It may be a cost implication, it may be a time saving or it may be a specific person you’d like to work with who may be based remotely. You need to be sure agile development is for you and judge your outsourcing needs within this context.

The evaluation of your potential team

Agile Development is all about building trust, good working relationships and maintaiinng excellent communication throughout. It should be fairly evident from a relatively early stage if this relationship isn’t going to sustain, and it’s important to use thorough evaluation processes within your team when it comes to choosing the right outsourcing partner. For example, discuss delivery projections, costs, time differences, differences in working practises – the more information you can get the better.

Is this the best option for my business?

One excellent by-product of outsourcing agile development is that it gives you a fantastic amount of choice – choice in who you work with, flexibility with times and budgets and flexibility in the work that’s ultimately delivered. Bear in mind however that there is more than one way around a problem, and make sure you are ready for outsourcing before you commit. There are many other training, in-house development or self-learning options that could help your busines too.

Tips to Overcome Challenges

Agile product management company Version One has an excellent guide to making the most out of agile outsourcing, but here are some tips to point you in the right direction.

Manage proactively

It makes sense within an agile environment to keep a close eye on how your outsourcing partners are working. There are many ways of doing this – from sharing Google Spreadsheets to using pieces of task management software such as Trello or DropTask.

Keep good communication

It may be difficult, but keeping good communication really is key. Using Skype and task management software is the best way to do this, but avoid overusing and micro-managing. Keep a routine and schedule, so catch up once a week, for example.

Account for delay and time differences

We all want things to be done yesterday, but accounting for the unexpected, and the difficulties that come with time differences, is really important for a successful working relationship. Schedule proper phone conversations – as context can easily be lost through email.

Conclusion

There may be certain precautions you need to take, but despite this, if you are willing to commit to an agile process and retain excellent communication throughout you will find outsourcing as one of the best working model and reap substantial benefits out of it.

We’ve seen through the course of this post that there are a certain amount of relationship, development and communication challenges to overcome, but making sure you use trusted project managers from a respected outsourcing agile development firm is one excellent way of making sure everything runs smoothly.

What Makes Agile Methodology Ideal for Product Development

What Makes Agile Methodology Ideal for Product Development

Everyone seems to be excited and talking about Agile product development these days. Let’s see why.

Getting a product to market is more challenging and competitive than ever before. Adaptability is crucial, and many traditional product development methods overlook the importance of that flexibility.

It’s not that traditional development methods are inherently bad – they simply lack in the necessary flexibility to be effective. The primary objectives of product development are to reduce time to market, increase product quality, and save money, all while delivering a product that exceeds client expectations.

To begin this guide, let’s review the Waterfall model, a more traditional approach to product development that you may already be familiar with.

The Waterfall Development Model

If you can imagine progress flowing from top to bottom in a cascading fashion, you will begin to get a sense of the allegorical origins of the ‘Waterfall’ method.

First used in the manufacturing and construction industries, the Waterfall model follows a sequential design process. In other words, each of its seven phases of development must be satisfied in order to move on to the next. If an error occurs in a later phase, the Waterfall model necessitates returning to an earlier phase in the sequence.

In essence, this results in having to retrace a number of steps in between. Needless to say, a mistake in a later phase can be both expensive and time-consuming.

To put it simply, a model that relies upon moving through only one of seven sequential phases at a time will be slow, tedious, and without flexibility.

Thankfully, the Agile product development methodology has demonstrated the ability to overcome these limitations.

What Is Agile Product Development?

The Agile model calls for a team-based approach to problem solving and product development. As opposed to Waterfall, which takes a sequential approach to task completion, Agile boxes development into phases called ‘sprints.’

Product development using Agile development methodology keeps priorities focused based on their perceived value to the client. As work is completed, conclusions are drawn to considering the timing and planning for upcoming sprints.

The bottom line is that continual input from the client is a necessary component to the Agile model.

Types of Agile Product Development

The Agile product development methodology, as flexible as it is, is often known to take on one of the following variations:

  • Extreme Programming (XP): Ideal for software development projects, this variation incorporates many real world applications observed by developers.
  • Dynamic System Development Model (DSDM): This variation incorporates the concepts of iteration, incremental delivery, and customer collaboration.
  • Scrum: A variation that concentrates on taking an iterative and incremental approach to managing tasks within a team-based environment.
  • Lean Development (LD): This variation is best known for creating a smooth workflow, a mentality of ownership, elimination of unnecessary waste, and a demand for high skill levels.

Certainly there are numerous variations to the Agile model, but Scrum is the most widely adopted Agile methodology for its proven effectiveness in development projects.

Process for Agile Product Development

agile_product_development

Regardless of the variation on the model itself, the phases – or sprints – of product development using Agile methodology are fundamentally similar to Waterfall:

  • Conception
  • Initiation
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Testing
  • Deployment

The main difference, as outlined above, is that input is required from the client upon completion of each phase.  This generally results in a more transparent approach to completing the job, early delivery, predictable costs, a more engaging end-user experience, and ultimately more flexibility with respect to unforeseen changes.

Agile Product Development Methodology Is Ideal

A lack of speed and flexibility tend to be the downfall of onshore and offshore product development alike, most often the result of using outdated product development models.

While Waterfall may follow a predictable and routine series of phases, it often overlooks the small yet crucial details necessary in the early phases of the project. It also overemphasizes the end goal, without the due respect and attention the in between steps deserve.

On the other hand, product development using Agile methodology keeps the focus on project quality, customer requirements, and carefully prioritized work phases, or sprints.

Consider using Agile product development methodology for your next major project – the flexibility and team-oriented collaboration will add immeasurable value to the final product.