My career has been spent involved with software and systems development, either as a programmer, then to managing teams of software professional, running businesses based upon the software I helped developed, or working with software intensive businesses helping them grow and become profitable. So since the early 1980s I have seen many fades come and go, and also some highly relevant approached to produce great quality systems, within time, budget, scope and importantly quality.
In this time I have seen software practices change and evolve, nor more so as the ‘tradional waterfall’ approach has been replacement with an ‘agile approach’. Both approaches have their supporters and detractors, I am convinced that Agile approach has major place to play outside pure software development and should be used in growing a business.
Traditional approaches such waterfall were developed to provide structure to the process and give confidence in understanding ’where are now, and where are we going. Waterfall assumed software development was like a production line. “Requirements analysts” compile the system specifications until they pass the finished requirements specification document to “software designers” who plan the software system and create diagrams documenting how the code should be written. The design diagrams are then passed to the “developers” who implement the code from the design, and so on.
One of the biggest problems with waterfall is that it assumes that all project requirements can be accurately gathered at the beginning of the project. It is inevitable that any attempt at up-front requirements specification will leave out some very important details simply because the stakeholders cannot tell developers everything about the system at the beginning of the project. Almost no software system is so simple that the development can be entirely scripted from beginning to end. The inherent uncertainty and complexity in all software projects requires an adaptive development plan to cope with uncertainty and a high number of unknown variables.
Just like any aspect of business growth and development!!
Agile projects avoid “up-front” requirements gathering for key reasons; customers cannot effectively produce all requirements in high enough detail for implementation to occur at the beginning of a project. Customers may not want to make decisions about the system until they have more information. Agile values a high visibility and customer involvement. The frequent demonstration and release of software common in Agile approaches gives customers a chance to “try software” periodically and provide feedback. Agile helps companies produce the “right product”. An iterative approach allows customers to delay decisions as well!
So how can an Agile Growth Mind-set’ be taken out of software development and used across a business to ensure growth is plan and implemented without reducing quality, missing deadlines, burning money and reducing quality delivered to customers? This Agile approach has been around now for over 20 years so if it works in complex software development and many major software & technology intensive businesses have been built upon its principles how can every business use it to see sustainable growth built into its future across all parts of the business.
Over the next few insight blogs I will show you as a business person can take these lesions and transfer them to your business, even if you never write a single line of code.
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