Agile Product Development: How Clients Benefit From Adapted Agile Methods
The iterative nature of the agile product development framework combined with the unique flexibility of an agency setting streamline the entire development process to offer clients the best possible product — and value.
What Is Agile?
Agile is a method of software development that’s both flexible and adaptable, and evolves with the team and product throughout the development process. Agile development is iterative, and allows for course corrections, pivots, and changes in scope or functionality — all while maintaining the forward momentum of a project.
As agile software developers, we champion the benefits of agile methodology, and we implement agile in every client project we complete. But as a company in the business of disrupting, we also recognize that sometimes even the best practices require adjustment. Our agency environment puts us in a unique position, wherein we can take the benefits of agile and tailor them to meet our clients’ varied and unique needs.
Benefits of Agile Product Development
Agile is more than a development methodology; it’s the flexibility to change your mind. Agile recognizes that things can – and most certainly will – change over the course of a project, and it allows for these changes to take place during any phase.
Agile varies from traditional forms of development, and provides a sharp contrast to linear “waterfall” methodology in particular. In waterfall, project tasks fall in a sequential, step-by-step order, with each new task dependent on completion of the previous one. In waterfall, changes are costly and time consuming, creating inefficiencies and rework.
Adapting Agile: When To Modify The Methodology, And When To Stay Strict
Agile, in its purest form, is often referred to colloquially as “ivory tower” scrum. This unadulterated version of agile development is aspired to by product companies. Yet, in an agency setting, things differ. While ivory tower scrum represents an ideal scenario, sometimes agile is – and should be – adapted. At Praxent we’re in the business of innovating when we build software, so we’re accustomed to identifying when to stray from (or conversely when to stick to) the norm.
How Can Agile Be Adapted?
In a setting with some operational flexibility, we can adapt and mold best practices to do what makes the most sense. While we always adhere to our AgileDev® methodology, at times we adjust things to best achieve client objectives.
- Address unique client needs
- Meet varying timelines
- Respect client budget and resources
- Account for changes in project scope
- Allow time for external and internal teams to collaborate
While there are many little ways in which agile methodologies can vary, there are a few modifications which make sense most frequently:
- Allocate Resources As Needed (Or Not Needed): The agile project management framework offers a benefit of ramping up or dialing down engineering teams depending on need. Not every client project requires a full development team, and adjusting team size or employing resources on a part-time basis reduces overhead and billable hours.
- Combine Roles: In an agency setting, roles can be less segmented, or even combined. Client receive the benefits of each role without paying for multiple separate leaders. For example, in an agency a scrummaster and PM might wear the same hat.
- Modify Scrum: Standard scrum process can be modified while still respecting the foundation and underlying principles. Compromises such as alternating daily stand ups and staying in touch via Slack make scrum more efficient, yet still allow the team to stay versatile and meet objectives.
- Complete Projects Efficiently: You can’t see ROI until your product is live. We aim to reduce development time and optimize cost of ownership with our vast UX libraries, DevOps tools, boilerplates, and frameworks to get there faster.
Just as the agile framework recognizes the inevitable changes in the product development process, we recognize that each and every project is different. Agile always works, but how it works may be different for each client we serve.
What Parts Of Agile Should Never Change?
Agile is inherently adaptable, and recognizes upfront that needs will change over the course of a project. Since the agile product development methodology builds in room for re-confirming and re-evaluating requirements throughout the entire project lifecycle, there are a few things we’d never adapt or change.
- Always Adhere To Industry Standards: When it comes to agile, it’s essential to adhere to the industry standards to deliver the very best product possible.
- Never Compromise On Tools: Tools are extremely important in agile, and it’s beneficial to use the best software (ahem, JIRA) and follow core industry standard practices like creating a backlog, writing user stories, product roadmapping/story mapping, and sprint delivery.
Adapted Agile: The Best Value For Clients
An agency environment provides a few benefits over building in-house, including the ability to provide a range of services from an end-to-end engagement to a small project. At Praxent, our focus is always on our clients and we adapt our agile product development methodologies to best meet client needs. Our speciality in development and consulting means we have both the expertise and experience to recognize when adaptation is appropriate to provide the best solution.
- Sensitivity to team needs
- Communication across channels to minimize blocks or delays
- Time management and efficiency
- Synergy across teams to create and deliver
Customizing processes can lead to more efficient product delivery, and efficiency leads to the best value possible for clients on each and every project.