Agile Project Management is currently in vogue throughout the tech sector, but it’s more than a passing trend. Agile forms a framework that allows iterative, substantive collaborations to be made in an efficient manner for an entire workforce.
It’s a step up in speed, quality control, and customer satisfaction from waterfall management; the increases in speed are checked by increased collaboration, increased focus on small systems, and review/feedback cycles, allowing for a more robust and speedy end product.
If you haven’t already made the switch, you’re missing out on a lot of simple, effective changes. Here are six of them.
1. Small focus makes light work
One of the key differences of the Agile framework is that development is compounded into small “sprints”, which focus on one small part of a product within small teams and strive to make that part completely functional before moving onto the next one.
This gives a definite advantage of fully completing each system in a line, like a factory floor. By splitting up work this way, teams never have to wait around for others in the line to finish up parts to give to their team or experience the nightmare of complex interlocking parts (none of which are fully completed).
2. Product stability is massively increased
As Agile is so focused towards workable parts, the core systems of a product will always be functional well ahead of time and are designed to function independently of each other to allow changes further down the track.
During a sprint, you’ll be easily able to see how robust each system is, whether its functionality won’t work in the current iteration, and be able to easily pinpoint faults and impossibilities early on in the timeline. Even in a situation where the product is found to be unstable and scuttled, you’ll have numerous completed projects that can slot into another model.
Testing is an inherent part of iterative design, which saves time, energy, and money; quality assessments are done during the design period rather than bundled into the end.
3. Iterative betas = market-leading
Agile development means shaping a product while it evolves. Oftentimes, this can mean shipping a product that lacks all of its 1.0 functionality but is instead in a purchasable beta form that is continually added to over time.
Statistics show that roughly 80% of market leaders launched their product before any competitors in the field. There are examples where an inefficient product is overtaken by a savvy competitor, but this only account for 20% of overall success stories.
Putting out a product in an agile framework means getting eyes on it immediately and continually through its lifecycle. From a marketing perspective, it’s invaluable to have the ability to continually pump out content, updates, and generate positive press. This means that a quality product will not only speak for itself but that it’ll keep talking every new release.
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Agile management systems know that briefs, context, situations, and even a client’s mind can change on a whim or due to external factors.
Due to this, prioritisation of core concepts, and the emergence of new higher priorities doesn’t shake the core of the development cycle as it would in a waterfall solution. As circumstances change, the focus is merely diverted towards the emergent systems and away from systems that will invariably be shipped at a later date.
Of course, this requires strong top-down management; luckily, this is easier to achieve than in a waterfall system.
5. Visibility is easy in Agile
Regular checks, testing, and small bite-sized chunks mean that progress and insight are amazingly simple to achieve. All employees, managers, and stakeholders have easily digestible reports into the current standing of the project.
Metrics are simplified, reports are easy to create and translate from the tech floor to boardroom, and leadership can easily see precisely what needs to flow into what.
You’ll need leaders who are comfortable working in this environment (which is why qualification courses exist in the first place), but the benefits far outweigh the initial startup cost.
6. Better forward projections
It all comes down to data, and having access to so many iterative reports allows you to have a perfect understanding of precisely how far along with development you currently are; this is true both in the sense of having a fixed development endpoint and in the sheer ease of visibility as a project lead.
Both of these translate into a better understanding and projection for the future. Having a concise end of development stops the endless pushbacks, and therefore uncertainty, of Development Hell. Anything not ready to go at the exact moment of project completion merely shifts focus towards the highest priority for subsequent iterations. Oftentimes, the gap between project end and shipping will allow for additional progress to be made on these core systems regardless.