Do Agile approaches allow us to deliver quicker?
By Vic Page and José Casal | 8 March 2017
Agile approaches are intended to provide business with a way of keeping their products and services relevant in a fast-changing world. So what is it about the Agile way of working that allows us to deliver more quickly and more efficiently than more traditional approaches? Vic Page, Training and Accreditation Director for the Agile Business Consortium, and José Casal, Agile Business Consultant, both founding partners of Actineo Consulting, provide the answers.
Breaking the job into small valuable chunks
Agile approaches split big ideas into prioritised increments (valuable ‘chunks’ of the overall solution) so the things that contribute most to the success of the business are delivered early. Working in this way also allows teams to maintain alignment with changing business needs by providing the opportunity between increments to review priorities, and either confirm or re-shape the work to be done next. Where significant work is needed to deliver something of real value – maybe requiring effort spanning a couple of months or even longer – development of the solution may be further divided into timeboxes of typically two to four weeks.
Focusing on customer value
Each increment of the solution should have tangible business value and teams should focus on that tangible value rather than be distracted by less important features that perhaps only have value in a minority of scenarios. As well as reducing time to market of the most valuable aspects of the solution, the burden of supporting, maintaining and enhancing it is also reduced, because the solution is smaller and probably simpler as a result of this focus.
Achieving clarity through prioritisation
The Agile Project Framework includes MoSCoW Prioritisation as a practice. MoSCoW is a robust business-focused approach that allows requirements to be prioritised on the basis of what Must, Should, Could or Won’t be delivered in a given timeframe. In conjunction with timeboxed delivery, this ensures that essential benefits are delivered in a timely and predictable way.
Working more efficiently
Agile approaches embrace a culture of collaboration across all members of a solution development team, with optimum success being achieved when business stakeholders are part of that collaborative effort. True collaboration within a team empowered to deliver the right solution offers greater efficiency by providing a much more focused, dynamic and change responsive approach to building solutions. Active involvement of customers in the collaborative development of a solution reduces the need for up-front agreement of exactly what will be delivered, reducing the time wasted writing and approving documents in favour of getting on with delivery – often cutting overall delivery times.
So, do Agile approaches allow us to deliver quicker?
Yes. By focusing on what is important and eliminating what is not.