TL;DR. In the world of software development, agility isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a way of life for successful enterprises. The level of rigor in applying Agile principles can vary depending on the project’s size, complexity, and organizational context. So, in more cases than one, a more lightweight approach to Agile may be the way to go. Or a more intelligent one, as we like to call it, one that covers iterative development, customer-centric approach, continuous delivery, transparency and trajectory adjustments.
Agile has undergone significant transformation and diversification over the years, with the aim of remaining relevant and adaptable to the changing demands of the software development and project management landscape. These transformations reflect the ongoing commitment of the Agile community to provide effective and efficient ways of delivering value to customers.
Even more than that, Agile is proving to be incredibly flexible and so many companies are implementing “our Agile”.
What is it
Going back in time, at the “birth” of the Agile manifesto, we might notice that the principles written there are meant to act as rules….but they aren’t quite set in stone. At least this is how the industry is treating them. Almost every player in the industry is adapting the Agile way: some approaches are loose, meaning let’s just start the implementation of the project and then we’ll see; others operate in a too “waterfall” way.
We operate a tad different: early on, we act as a consultant to our clients, basing our expertise and points of view in the years that brought us to this point. Then we are his partner all the way.
So, for us, our Agile is about partnership and about tailoring the development approach to the unique needs and constraints of the software solution, keeping the focus on rapid validation of the core value proposition.
Our intelligent Agile focuses on taking the best out of many worlds and merging them into a straightforward way of working that progresses the solution from 0 to 1 and then from 1 to n. We have found this approach to be preferable for projects starting from scratch, as this approach:
- Cements a clear scope for the software solution
- Controls the costs for bringing the software solution to market
- Collects usage data that serves as fuel for future improvements
Why is it relevant
Just like when building a house, there are many, many things that need to be taken into consideration before actually building it. And we are not just talking from the ground up, but also from the ground down. What does that mean? Well, the soil you will build on and the environment conditions matter too. But that’s not all: the analyzing stage of a software project focuses on sketching, in black and white so to speak, the first shape of the project; then, quick enough, we start filling it with color, based on the information we collect from the client.
And this point of view is actually a mindset, a mindset that intelligent Agile cultivates.
Agile pushes us:
- to use data and metrics in order to make informed decisions
- to use various metrics for tracking progress, quality and performance
- to let go of rigid mindset and of holding on to things; it pushes you to allow the “blind spots” in and to use them for delivering better results.
In a nutshell, Agile prepares you for responding to ever changing circumstances. Just like in life, right? By continuously inspecting, adapting, and prioritizing, Agile teams can steer the project in the right direction and make the necessary course corrections.
Usually, our Agile teams embrace iterative development in units of work of 2 to 4 weeks. These iterations are called sprints and represent a unit of time in which the development team builds, tests, gathers feedback, and transforms specification into practical functionality. These sprints go on until the project is implemented to spec. It’s like gradually crafting a masterpiece based on the prototype and architecture that have been predefined. You don’t just build on, build on, build on blindly, avoiding the external factors that impact your building, right?
At the end of each sprint, the development team performs a ‘demo’ session in which stakeholders are brought up to date with regards to what has been developed. This allows the customers to stay in the loop as the solution gets brought up. Show and tell, right?
At the end of every development iteration, Agile teams deliver a working solution on a staging environment, where stakeholders can interact with the resulting solutions. This allows for the customer to get a sense of the actual experience of using their own product.
Agile projects are open books. Regular stand-up meetings and detailed progress tracking keep everyone in the loop. It’s like a well-scripted play, where the audience knows every twist and turn. So there is really no wiggle room for big, unpleasant surprises; and even when something happens, the team pick it up early on and puts it on the table.
Because everything is transparent, stakeholders and project managers can plan each development iteration so that they can bake functionality into the project based on the market requirements. This allows for stakeholders to test the waters of their solution with just a handful of features, and to course-correct the trajectory of development. We always keep in mind who we are building the solution for in the first place. Also, intelligent Agile has this built-in alarm that doesn’t allow you to forget that.
Before mentioning some possible cons, it’s worth noting that many of them can be mitigated or managed effectively with the right practices and by tailoring Agile to suit the specific needs of the project and organization.
Lack of Predictability: As we saw, Agile is based on adaptability and change, which sometimes can make it difficult to predict when a project will be completed or what the final product will look like. This can be challenging for organizations that require strict project timelines and budget constraints.
Complexity for Large Projects: While Agile is well-suited for smaller to medium-sized projects, it can become more complex to manage in large-scale, enterprise-level projects. Scaling Agile requires additional frameworks and practices, such as SAFe or LeSS, which can introduce their own complexities.
Resource Intensive: Agile practices often require a high level of collaboration and communication, which can be resource-intensive. Daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, and retrospectives can consume a significant amount of team time if not handled carefully.
Ready to harness the power of intelligent Agile in your enterprise? Remember: in software development, agility isn’t an option, but a competitive advantage.