If you are reading this article, you have probably heard the term “Agile”. It’s a well-known buzz word around the development community and is often thrown around in conversation. The Agile project management methodology has many sub-categories and every development team has their own way of doing things depending on their culture and approach. For this reason, this can be a big topic of conversation with our customers and our team. At GearedApp, Agile is not just a buzzword, but an important management framework that we use increasingly with digital products that require constant iteration and evolution.
So, what is the Agile methodology?
Agile is a modern approach to digital project management. Unlike traditional methods, it is exactly what it says on the tin – “agile”, efficient and flexible.
For many years, the Waterfall model was the most common. Each project was treated as a marathon; you plan your project, decide exactly what is wanted to be built before it is started, set a fixed cost and it’s a race to the finish line.
Agile is different: it works in small sprints. Starting from a rough idea, work is produced in wee bursts of anything up to a few weeks. Agile recognises that there is no way of knowing exactly how long things will take until you get started.
This method is much more realistic and flexible. Decisions are made as we proceed throughout the project, so there is always room for change. It also means that you are paying exactly for the time that is used.
How do we use it?
Agile is not the only approach that we use at GearedApp. We try to make sure that the project is right and that our clients understand their level of involvement.
In essence, for us it means producing work in sprints of two-weeks, and increased communication through Scrum ceremonies (planning, standups, demos and retrospectives).
It also means better prioritisation! Important tasks are set as priorities and things can move down the list depending on how much time and budget is left. At the end of every two weeks, we meet or send our progress on to our client for their review.
After receiving feedback, we evaluate our progress and decide on our next steps. We like to plan our projects based on a budget with a contingency, in contrast to a fixed scope and cost. By prioritising features at each stage in the project, we can provide more flexibility and even better value for money. We find that prematurely setting a fixed cost for a job which is not fully understood can lead to overshooting – Agile means less of a finger in the air approach!
Why do we use it?
There are a myriad of reasons why we enjoy using an Agile approach, the benefits for our client being key.
With the constant feedback and discussion throughout, it is great for collaboration and for larger projects. It allows our clients to have input throughout the process. Transparency is also a key factor in this methodology. We do not only communicate all the successes, but share problems that we face during a project. This helps our clients to better understand their project, problem solve and is vital to building trust. While some clients prefer to input more or less than others, we prefer this constant feedback – the team take pride in each of our products and we want you to be 100% happy with the end result.
Agile means adaptability! We understand a change of circumstances happen in all projects, and often can cause a lot of worry and frustration. If you have ever undertaken a large-scale project before, you’ll know that there is nothing worse than getting to the finish line and realising that your priorities were askew. By promoting flexibility, it minimizes this risk and means fewer roadblocks for you and us.
Agile allows every member of the GearedApp team to have a focus, encouraging motivation and efficiency. We are always looking for creative ways to improve what we do – we strive to ensure that your budget is protected and that our process is as easy and efficient as possible.
Busting The Myths!
We know, it just sounds too good to be true… and there are some common criticisms of the approach. Let’s tackle a few of these misconceptions.
The first myth being that Agile requires no planning. We use the approach as a way of planning throughout the development process, meaning that in fact, it takes extra planning! We find that by constantly reviewing our progress and evaluating where to go next, this means effective communication with our clients and ensures that the entire team are on the same page.
On top of this, some believe that it is a chaotic process. Within the GearedApp team, we actually find the opposite to be true! By splitting it up into wee blasts our whole procedure is simplified, meaning no confusion. It means self-discipline and lots of organisation from everyone.
No project is the same and we adapt to each product, client and situation, however, we always advocate Agile project management as far as possible. Some of our clients prefer to run a more hybrid approach; where planning and the gathering of requirements are mostly done before the project starts, but development, implementation and testing follow agile rules. We work together to combine the values of trust, adaptability and collaboration, which allows us to create brilliant bespoke apps and web solutions for you!
Check out our project process here if you’d like to learn more about our approach to digital projects, or get in touch if like to hear more about our development approaches, tools or values.