How to Boost Business Value Using Agile Techniques
Agile development and agile project management continue to grow in popularity. They have become widely used in financial and professional services and continue to be the preferred choice of the majority in the software sector.
Agile is essentially an iterative approach to project management where projects are delivered using short iterations known as ‘sprints’. A sprint is fixed time period in which a team must complete a certain amount of work and make it ready for review.
Agile methodology first emerged in the software industry in the early 2000s and, while initially used in software development, a number of the concepts are transferable across a number of other areas. It is especially effective in projects where change is anticipated.
Agile places a strong emphasis on the following four values (when specific to software development):
• Individuals and interactions take precedence over processes and tools
• Working software is more important than comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration is more important than contract negotiation
• Responding to change should be prioritised over following a plan
Benefits of agile
Benefits cited by those advocates of agile include increased productivity, improved team morale, faster delivery times, and greater capacity to deal with changes within the project.
One of the main reasons for switching to agile methodologies is their impressive success rate – indeed it is reported that agile projects are an impressive three times as likely to be seen as a success as projects using traditional methods like Waterfall.
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Agile’s focus on delivering in ‘sprints’ can enable quick turnarounds and business value can be realised sooner than using traditional methods, although it is very important to ensure that each element fits within the overall project and addresses the project’s main objectives.
The focus on collaboration within teams and with external customers encourages creativity and ideas, thus improving overall product quality. Effective collaboration and communication are the critical drivers in ensuring the success of agile projects. Defective communication will have a severe negative impact on the quality of the project delivered.