Can You Really Trust Agile Development?

By Staff Writer on June 1, 2015
ChannelNet-Agile-Development

Like the Wild West, digital marketing is a race to tame and own new frontiers of technology. The landscape and consumer demands change on a regular basis. Much like the pioneers, companies have limited resources to respond. Though Agile and its frequent partner, Scrum, may not be right for every organization or project, these software frameworks offer sound principles for taming the digital frontier, usually at a lower cost. Agile development, which is greatly influencing how marketing operates, stresses evolutionary planning and continuous improvement.

For those of you that do not fully understand what Agile and Scrum are, Agile is a framework for managing software development efforts. Scrum is an iterative and incremental method used in the development process.

Unfortunately, there is a perception that Agile is like the Wild West. This is not true. What is true — Agile development launches products faster. Here is why the Wild West myths about Agile and Scrum are not true. We approached Agile development with a healthy dose of skepticism and this is what we experienced.

  1. No cowboys are allowed — teamwork is key

The people doing the work are the team. We love this because it cuts across the traditional silos of Creative, UX, Programming, Quality Assurance, and Business Analysis. Everyone is responsible. Everyone’s skin is in the game. Everyone is equal. Everyone shares in each other’s fears, excitement and problems. Trust is built. Instead of saying, “That’s not my job,” team members are saying, “I got you covered.”

When done well, true collaboration happens, not the watered down version of collaboration that managers like to tout.

  1. We don’t just jump on the horse and go, but we do spend less time mapping the way

Part of the mistrust of Agile development stems from the misconception that documentation is thrown out of the window. Documentation is necessary; needless red tape and a tome of requirements are not.

ChannelNet Chief Technology Officer Dave Boisvenu shares, “When we first started using Scrum many years ago, it was uncomfortable not to have the safety net of mounds of requirements, specifications and prescriptive instruction. The details will emerge mindset did not settle our fears. We did find with some faith and practice, these fears were unfounded.”

Boisvenu stresses, “Cutting out needless process and documents and replacing it with human collaboration yields real, working product sooner. Having a tight-knit team that collaborates eliminates the need for detailed specifications – which often cause ambiguity, waste and frustration away.”

  1. Unlike the wide open range, launches are relatively surprise-free

Scrum and Agile are iterative, meaning teams work on a project for a short and specific period (typically 2 weeks to a month). The customer and stakeholders then receive a demo of the solution. We found stakeholders and clients love it because they receive regular updates and they can make tweaks along the way. This continuous validation throughout the project reduces surprises.

Boisvenu sees another benefit from the team interacting directly with the customer; they gain deep insight into customer needs. “I think the team gains insights that no document could ever capture. Many people feel that putting a UX designer, programmer, or QA engineer in front of a client is dangerous; they may over commit, say something too techy, or inadvertently undermine the effort. With some rehearsals and prepping, this isn’t an issue. The better understanding creates a better product.”

To be successful in digital, you need to be agile. Time to market is critically important. With the right people, mindset and spirit, Scrum and Agile development can be very rewarding for your business and your culture.

For more on agile, read ‘An Agile Response Requires Agile Marketing.’


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