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How effective is agile for product development?

November 9, 2021 By: Guest Author

Since its introduction in 2001, the agile product development methodology has taken the world by storm. Its flexible approach to product design and development were a drastic change from the more restrictive processes of the 1990s. agile’s iterative development cycle allowed organizations to be much more adaptive to changes in the market,  as well as in their customer base.

Two decades later, however , some organizations may be wondering whether agile is the best approach for product development. Are there other important methodologies that can optimize the development process?

In this post, I’ll address the basics:

  • What is agile product development? 
  • The 4 agile values.
  • The 12 agile principles.
  • The pros and cons of agile product development.
  • How Continuous Product Design can help.

What is agile product development?

At its most comprehensive, agile product development is an operational approach. In other words, agile is a set of frameworks and practices that describe how developers work together in a self-organizing and collaborative fashion. Instead of defining a single, concrete outline for product development, agile suggests that developers work in brief “sprints,” with each new sprint improving on the work of the last.

This more flexible approach to product development allows teams to create adaptive, consumer-oriented products that can withstand changes in the market.

Teams that practice agile methods overcome outdated hierarchies in order to continuously navigate through changes in the market, as well as uncover what’s actually happening in a specific environment. This helps teams figure out what they need to do on a day-to-day basis so that they can deliver high-quality products at an efficient pace.

The four agile values.

As stated by the Agile Manifesto, the four core values of agile product development are:

  1. individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  2. working product over comprehensive documentation;
  3. customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  4. responding to change over following a plan.

Instead of focusing on checklists and plans, agile suggests a less rigid approach to product development, utilizing flexible deadlines and constant consumer feedback to ensure that products are necessary and functional.

The 12 Agile Principles.

Paraphrased from the Agile Manifesto, the 12 Agile Principles are:

  1. Satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Allow frequent collaboration between all stakeholders.
  5. Create a supportive environment to motivate team members.
  6. Prioritize face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Maintain a constant pace of development.
  9. Pay continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
  10. Prioritize simplicity.
  11. Promote self-organization within development teams.
  12. Regularly reflect on team performance.

In the context of product development, these principles emphasize an iterative process, rather than a simple linear one. Teams should strive for constant improvement, maintaining a focus on collaboration and customer feedback over independent projects. 

Not only does agile decentralize product development, allowing for open lines of communication between developers and management, it also ensures that the final product will be functional and adaptive to the market.

Pros and cons of agile product development.

Agile has had many positive impacts on product development, from the initial concept to the final stages. 

The Pros:

  • Agile creates high-quality, functional products that suit evolving customer needs. Teams are able to react to changes in the market with ease, forming stronger relationships with consumers in the process.
  • Agile is linked to higher efficiency and lower rates of burnout. The iterative process allows team members to solve problems in real-time without overextending themselves.
  • Agile produces rapid and tangible results. Because developers work in short bursts, progress reports are frequently available, giving clients and stakeholders an open line of communication when it comes to the status of the product.

However, there are also some limitations to agile’s effects as well. 

The Cons:

  • Agile is limited to a product’s development cycle. It doesn’t help developers analyze market conditions and prioritize products based on demand.
  • Agile can create miscommunication within an organization. Data may end up divided between several different teams, and developers may struggle to get all the information they need.
  • Agile is centered on teams. Most of its principles apply to the product development and design processes, and as a result, a disconnect may form between management and developers.

How Continuous Product Design can help boost your agile process.

The benefits of agile are evident, but they still leave plenty of room for miscommunication and guesswork. That’s where Continuous Product Design comes in.

Continuous Product Design (CPD) is a cross-team approach to building better digital products faster—based on a shared, quantified, and real-time view of customer signals and business impact. CPD supports:

  • The democratization of data and customer signals throughout the organization in order to learn faster and draw better conclusions 
  • Keeping teams fully aligned on decision-making and prioritization across the product lifecycle 
  • Connecting all teams in the product lifecycle to real-time customer behavior and input 
  • Ensuring that products release faster with more confidence and efficiency 
  • Rapidly designing and continuously optimizing products 
  • Solving important problems for customers 

Agile often leaves developers in the dark when it comes to identifying and prioritizing valuable products. CPD solves this problem by connecting customer signals to the entire product life cycle. This enables businesses to increase the accuracy of their “guesses” and iterate faster to deliver great products and experiences for customers. 

With Continuous Product Design, businesses can link every stage of product development back to the consumer, allowing them to prioritize projects with ease. Teams have an open line of communication with management and with their customers. Over long periods of time, this leads to better products, stronger consumer relationships, and big returns that benefit the entire organization. 

Learn more about how Continuous Product Design can boost your current agile product development process. 

Download the CPD eBook.

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