You can have the best team in the world, but if you don’t have the right process methodology in place, everyone has to work harder to achieve lower quality results. When a project gets delayed, overwhelmed with scope creep or deprioritized, it’s common to try to blame everything from the budget to the computer systems. However, you may simply need a different way of doing things.
The Basics of Waterfall and Agile Development Processes
If you haven’t looked into various project methodologies in the past, chances are you’re using waterfall development processes. Waterfall, which is sometimes referred to as a traditional methodology, takes you step by step through a project. You’re on a linear path that requires you to completely wrap up the current stage before you can move forward.
Agile development, in contrast, uses a more free form approach that uses iterative processes to complete your development. You move away from the task lists that are common in the waterfall process. The replacement is called a sprint, which is a dedicated block of time where everyone collaborates to accomplish a particular goal. Exactly what you do for each sprint depends on many factors, but you create a list that details everything that should be covered in this time frame.
At the end of the sprint and before you start the next one, you evaluate and review the work that was completed. Ideally, you have a working deliverable that meets all of the requirements. However, failure to meet all of the requirements is not a project failure. Instead, it’s data that you can use to make the next sprint better.
All of the work gets reviewed by relevant stakeholders, such as your clients, before you continue forward. Agile might sound a lot more complicated than your current waterfall process, but it delivers enough benefits to make it worthwhile.
Advantages of Changing to an Agile Process
One of the biggest advantages to agile development methodology is right there in the name. You have the agility and adaptability to make necessary changes to your project without starting from scratch. The frequent check-ins with everyone involved, along with a highly collaborative team process, keep you in touch with shifting requirements.
Sometimes you might need a feature that was never discussed at the beginning of the project or you have a client that attended a workshop on Scope Creep 101 and decided to change course in the middle of everything. If you’re using waterfall, you end up with milestones that are no longer relevant, a schedule that burst into flames and a lot of headaches among your team.
With an agile process, you prioritize the new changes and work it into the next sprint. You don’t have to disrupt everyone’s flow just because a key stakeholder changes their mind on a regular basis. Instead, you go with the flow and end up with a project that can accommodate these needs.
The clients who love to be hands-on and heavily involved in the project are going to fall in love with agile. You need their input after every sprint, rather than reviewing things at the end of the process. They give you input when it makes the most sense, instead of giving you a laundry list of additions to an already completed project.
In some cases, you also have the opportunity to demonstrate more value to your clients. Since they get involved throughout the whole process rather than at the beginning or the end, they get to see how much work you have to put into making their vision a reality. The next time you have someone balk at a quote, consider agile to show them how the sausage is really made.
Many companies are focusing on improving the user experience, which is another area where agile development excels at. Since you’re getting constant feedback throughout the project, you know whether features and changes are well-received or if they need to be thrown out entirely. The user voices are heard when they matter the most, rather than once the project finishes.
Your Digital Partner Needs to Understand Agile Processes
Switching from waterfall to agile sounds great, but only if you have a digital partner that actually understands the process. Since this iterative approach is so different from a traditional development workflow, some partners may not know where to start.
The last thing you want to do is be the guinea pig for their learning curve, so make sure that the companies you work with have plenty of experience with implementing agile methodology. Ask plenty of questions about their previous projects, the way they structure their sprints and the problems they encountered during particularly challenging agile projects.
The waterfall process has served your company well for a long time, but it’s worth looking into agile to see whether it will benefit your workflow. For many projects, this ends up being the much better choice to accomplish your goals and get a user experience that everyone ends up enjoying. Make sure to implement this with the help of a digital partner that has plenty of experience, so they can guide your understanding of this new process.
Phalanx Digital is a award winning Pennsylvania based digital agency that works directly with advertising and marketing agencies to help design and develop their digital efforts. With designers and developers in-house with skills ranging from native mobile apps to enterprise software experience design and development Phalanx is uniquely positioned to assist our partners with making their digital dreams real. Phalanx makes its reputation with delivering projects for large and small brands alike on time and under budget. Customers we have worked with include: Sheetz, Remington, Victory Motorcycles, Troegs, US Army, Carlisle Syntec, Allstate, Beaufurn and many others.
- Monday August 14, 2017
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