5 Reasons why an agile approach delivers value

Rapidly delivering valuable technology solutions to the market isn’t as tricky and lofty a goal as you might think. Countless businesses have quickly been providing value to their customers by using the four values and 12 principles of Agile software development.
Written by 
Dan Greenleaf
Agile Leader

Each day, ICC developers and consultants in our Cosmos delivery center in Columbus, Ohio, prove how quickly and efficiently Agile software development meets business and technology needs.

If you’re wondering whether it matters if your business software applications come to life in an Agile development environment, here are five reasons why Agile gives more value to your technology investments.

1. You need new software capabilities delivered at the speed of business.

With the ever-accelerating pace of change and rising customer expectations, digital leaders must quickly innovate with products that go from “concept to cash” faster than anyone else. Back in the early 2000s when Agile software development started, even the best in the business considered it impossible to deliver working software in just a couple of months. Nine to 18 months was the norm.

Now we can deliver new software capabilities monthly, weekly, or even daily, to keep pace with the daunting rate of change in the marketplace and to enable you to provide new online services for your customers quickly.

Here’s how it works:

Instead of focusing on a client’s technology project as one significant deliverable, an Agile development approach breaks product development work into small iterations, or sprints, lasting from one to four weeks. During each iteration, a cross-functional and self-organizing team works the planning, analysis, design, coding, and testing of a small piece of software then demonstrates the new product capability to the customer.

Because testing occurs in every iteration, the client can quickly use that software to offer a new capability to their customers, then evaluate and validate the value of it for future iterations. You can choose to change direction at any time as you learn more about the product with every release or if the market shifts.

2. A continuous value stream means you don’t have to wait to get a return on your technology investment.

The first principle – and highest priority – of Agile software development is to “…satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software." 
– Agile Manifesto

Our delivery center delivers a continuous value stream by developing a series of specific new capabilities, taking an outward-in view of how our clients offer services to their customers. For example, retail clients come to us for several new digital capacities, ranging from online purchasing to enhanced logistics that reduce the cost of shipping their goods.

Instead of planning, and budgeting, IT projects as one comprehensive 12-month effort, set up product-based funding and respond to market changes throughout the year. This shift allows you to make rapid decisions based on data and market intelligence.

This Agile approach is especially valuable for trying new technologies such as machine learning. Let’s say you want to offer real-time fraud detection for digital payments. Within just a few months, you can incorporate customer feedback and market response to your new service, which is enabled by machine learning, and then shift your technology investments as appropriate.

3. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to transforming to a digital business.

Agile values and principles have stood the test of time because they deliver business value while allowing for flexibility.

Every client’s organization has their degree of comfort with the iterative and collaborative nature of Agile product development, and we respect that. Our focus is on delivering the most value, and we meet the client where they are today concerning their guidelines, approach, and any existing business constraints.

We recognize that change is uncomfortable. Some clients rapidly transform their organization into a digital business over the course of a few months, while others have evolved over multiple years.

Some clients initially said Agile wouldn’t work in their environment. By focusing on delivering value with one product in a short period, rather than the process, ICC has helped many clients rapidly provide value to their customers.  

4. Collaboration and communication, not process, deliver the best value.

Agile software development isn’t about a methodology or process. Instead, it’s about the collaboration that takes place across the organization to deliver value. This collaboration includes close involvement by the Agile development team, product owner, and the client's IT leaders.

On any given day, you’ll find developers in our Cosmos delivery center sitting together in a pod, working collaboratively with their team members, business SMEs, client architects, and anyone else who can help deliver the product vision.  

Collaborative tools such as whiteboarding, file sharing, and Skype video calls – or sometimes even a walk down the hall – quickly connect developers with business experts in relevant industries such as healthcare, insurance, and finance.

We collaborate with clients to meet their business needs and stay on top of market changes. Our customers expect – and rightly so – a high level of interaction with us, whether onsite in our delivery center or by having our teams visit clients on their sites.

Daily or weekly checkpoints allow teams to review progress and deliverables with our clients, whose critical involvement helps shape the vision to deliver the best value.

5. Agile coaching and mentoring breaks up bottlenecks in digital transformation.

Using the 12 Agile principles gives you new capabilities to break through existing business constraints. Our Agile approach and coaching help you do that and deliver the most value from new digital services for your customers.

Our clients experience how our delivery center uses Agile to execute their digital strategy faster, with high quality and at a cost-effective price point. As a result, some clients have asked us to train them to use an Agile approach within their organizations, which we’re happy to do. Having coached dozens of clients over the years, I haven’t met a client yet who hasn’t come to recognize the benefits of valuing:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

As the Agile Manifesto says, there is value in the items on the right, but we value the things on the left more.

Find out how ICC’s Agile and technology expertise provides end-to-end software development and support. Feel free to email me at dgreenleaf@icct.com with questions or schedule a tour of our Cosmos delivery center.

Read more about how ICC’s delivery center delivers more value while modernizing your technology:

Offshoring is so 1990s: How onshoring sets a faster pace for innovation in the digital era

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