The Top 10 Reasons Why Your Company Should Be Agile, #1-3

Welcome to the first part of my series on Agile. As a Professional Scrum Trainer, I’ve nailed my colours to the mast and put my faith in Agile as the future of effective software development.

In this series, I’m going to reveal my personal top 10 reasons why you and your company should be using Agile. Part one of the series focuses on three very big benefits to the business, customers and Developers alike – Agile’s ability to reduce cost, defend against risk and encourage innovation.

You Should Be Using Agile Because…

Reason # 1: Agile Reduces Cost

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of Agility to a business is that the Agile processes can substantially reduce costs. It does this in a variety of ways, some of which will be subsequent reasons for using Agile in their own right, but specifically Agile allows clients, customers and Product Owners to get exactly what they want.

The Product Owner is involved throughout the development of a Product, along with stakeholders and can feedback in almost real-time on the features that we create. As such, they get the product they want and not what developers think they want. Anyone who has worked in development for any length of time knows the two are not always the same thing, no matter how good our intentions.

“Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”

– The Agile Manifesto

In an Agile setting, software is tailored to the customer’s/Product Owner’s/business’s needs, offsetting waste. Short Sprint iterations mean scope creep should be a thing of the past and the value of each Sprint or product should become obvious to the client much earlier.

Reason #2: Agile Reduces Risk.

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

– The Agile Manifesto

The communication enabled by Agile approaches significantly reduces the risk of anything going too far off track. As I mentioned above, Product Owners and customers get to feedback on development continuously and short Sprints ensure development can’t go too far off track.

With a classical linear approach to development, there is a risk that developers end up producing unwanted software or producing what the client ‘asked for’ but not what they really wanted. Misunderstood requirements may be the culprit, but that doesn’t help the business or client when they’ve waited months for a product only to discover it isn’t right.

Agile approaches allow customers, clients and Product Owners to see the result at every stage (or Sprint), giving them the opportunity to clarify their requirements. Issues can be tackled before too much time or effort is invested, risks are identified early rather than delayed and the course of development corrected regularly if needed.

By delivering working software frequently and offering transparency, Agile allows us to keep budgets, schedules and development on track.

Reason #3: Agile Allows Flexibility and Innovation.

With a traditional waterfall approach, Developers are restricted in how flexible they can be (often, you’re not allowed to be accommodating at all). You have requirements to stick to and any new innovations or industry developments have to be ignored until you have finished the build, which can be months and sometimes even years later.

Agile Iterations or Sprints allow you to adapt to changes in demand, additions to requirements and to incorporate new technology as you go along should it benefit the customer.

In short, Agile welcomes change. One of the key principles in the Agile Manifesto is:

“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

– The Agile Manifesto

Agile doesn’t force the business to stick to requests made months before new technology came onto the market or to be held to ideas that have since moved on.

Agile is creative; it encourages free-thinking in its Developers. By freeing teams from pre-determined set tasks that could take months – often asking them to work continuous overtime in order to achieve them – you allow room for innovation.

A sustainable development environment through Agile approaches encourages collaboration; requirements aren’t cast in stone and discussion and therefore creativity is welcomed.

Regular feedback, short Sprints and the acknowledgement that there is no such thing as failure (only future development to improve the product) set the scene for change, ensuring you don’t miss features, you react speedily and have vision.

You are not stuck with unrealistic deadlines and/or all tasks being seen as urgent priority one (a sure sign that a Product Owner either hasn’t been encouraged to prioritise effectively or that he/she doesn’t trust the team to meet all the requests and thinks by making them all top priority he is more likely to get them done).

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