What is Agile Product Development

Organizations choose Agile product development because it allows them to develop products in a way that supports effective responses to change, risk, and uncertainty. The key to Agile product development is skilled, self-managed, and organized teams that can work quickly with each other and with stakeholders. Prototypes are created and a repeated cycle of stakeholder feedback allows further prototypes to be developed. Agile originated in the 2001 Agile Manifesto, which was written by leaders in the software industry. In this article, we’ll discuss what is Agile product development, its product development process, pros and cons, and agile product development process tips.

Agile Product Development Process

The core characteristic of Agile is responding to new information. The steps of the Agile product development process are simple. This cycle repeats until stakeholders are satisfied with the result, whether that’s a finished product, or simply testing part of a product, etc. 

  1. Start with the requirements. What is the goal of the project? What are measurable deliverables?
  2. Next, the team starts to design and create the deliverables.
  3. This leads to testing the prototype, which can lead to making more changes.
  4. Finally, the finished item is delivered to users or stakeholders.

This cycle repeats itself, each time taking in new information from users or stakeholders. Sometimes the analogy of a waterfall is used to describe this development cycle. 

Agile Product Development Pros and Cons

As with any process, there are pros and cons. Here are some of the pros of using the Agile method.

  1. Editing and re-dos are not only possible but encouraged to produce the desired results. 
  2. The turnaround to a finished (and higher quality) product is faster specifically because testing and adjusting the product based on those results happen so quickly. 
  3. Stakeholder feedback can be incorporated in almost real-time, which leads to a better product and more satisfied stakeholders. This allows teams to make fast changes that align with the goals of the project. 

Here are some of the cons of agile development.

  1. The lack of a firm schedule can be unwieldy, and needs to be managed to meet deadlines. 
  2. If an Agile team changes the project requirements, this could negatively affect other parts of the organization. 
  3. While teams can be highly effective, they are vulnerable if they lose a member, or have a “weak link”. Losing or having a poorly performing team member can have devastating consequences. 

Agile Product Development Tips

Here are a few tips for using Agile product development.

1. Start with the basics, or don’t make it too complicated at the beginning. 

Start with a small part of the process and think in terms of growing the use of Agile, rather than all or nothing thinking. 

2. Consider Agile implementation through the lens of change management.

Since Agile often requires a fundamental shift in management style, be prepared for the long haul. There will likely be breakdowns and breakthroughs—these are the hallmarks of change. Be patient and continue to espouse the benefits of Agile. 

3. Identify where there are cultural challenges in the organization to Agile.

Since Agile challenges functional and managerial authority, expect resistance and maybe some eye-rolling. Agile requires a relinquishment of control, which can be challenging for those in authority. Agile often requires a fundamental change in an organization’s culture. Be aware of the potential for systemic resistance. Part of successfully implementing Agile is planning to address these barriers. 

4. Make sure you’re starting an Agile team with experienced members in the areas of product management, scrum, and leading teams.

Successful implementation of scrum requires experienced people who have proven track records. Agile is based on strong teamwork. Maintaining an agile team requires hiring the right people and supporting them once you do. When recruiting internally or hiring for your Agile team, look for people who are solid product owners, scrum masters, and team leads. 

5. Train your scrum leaders in Agility.

Your scrum masters are in charge of the process. Invest in your team by giving them Agile training. One of the hidden principles of Agile is the continuous development of talent. You can use this practice when training senior management on the benefits of Agile. 

6. Start small.

Minimize the threat Agile can initially pose to an organization, start small and slow with one development team. As this team starts to show results, start another agile team, and then another, etc. 

Agile Product Development with Encora

When done correctly, product development can be one of your greatest sources of competitive advantage. If you find yourself in need of product engineering, our team of expert software engineers is standing by to help you with your agile product development process. Our product engineering and development practices leverage Agile and Learn principles across the entire product development cycle, from value stream management to building and nurturing high-performing teams. We always strive for sustainability and continuous improvement. These principles and attitudes will give your product a competitive, innovative edge. Reach out to us today to get started. 

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