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.
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.