Any talented software development team should be able to craft a working application or digital venture that meets the project requirements. However, if this app actually fails to solve a pressing business need, what’s the point? Or more importantly: where’s the value? Ultimately, digital ventures need to deliver value to justify the resources and effort spent building them.
Over two decades ago, software engineers frustrated with the disorganized nature of application development crafted the Agile Manifesto. This document ushered in a new era featuring a more iterative approach to creating software. While Agile remains influential throughout the tech world, companies still build applications with little to no business value.
Simply stated, the Agile Manifesto doesn’t solve all of the problems related to software development. In fact, delivering product value in an efficient manner should be the only thing that matters for modern application engineering teams. Let’s look more closely at a critical topic that needs to be considered by any organization building software for the current marketplace.
Of course, Agile and its descendants like DevOps, champion a more efficient software development process. For example, the iterative approach highlighted by these modern methodologies helps prevent the scope creep that causes budgets to balloon and deadlines to be missed. It also emphasizes teamwork between the development team and business stakeholders. Additionally, a nimble project approach lets the team react to changes more effectively.
While all those tangible benefits improved the process of software development, an efficiently crafted application means little without solving a business problem and ultimately delivering real value. In short, Agile only focuses on the output and efficiency of the software engineering process. Instead, a new methodological approach must concentrate on solving business problems while building products that deliver value.
Working closely together with business stakeholders, attending daily standup meetings, and quickly adding new features don’t provide value by themselves. In fact, they may obscure the fact that the needs of the users aren’t always being met.
Part of the reason for these discrepancies relates to the absence of anything product-related in the original Agile Manifesto. At the beginning of the 21st Century, teams wanted to write software more efficiently. Once again: in the current marketplace we need to build digital products that truly add value.
One of the reasons the team behind Agile created their manifesto involved deemphasizing the typical trappings of software development, for example, documentation. However, Agile still includes daily meetings, feature creep, potentially endless requirements, and other similar drudgery. Unfortunately, all this “stuff” makes transitioning to a product-based methodology somewhat difficult.
Additionally, even the concept of delivering value involves embracing the unknown. Software engineers typically prefer the tangible, like feature requirements, project plans, and implementation schedules. Of course, the executive team at most organizations also desire a more conservative approach. Getting corner office denizens to also embrace the unknown remains a daunting proposition.
Nevertheless, effectively delivering business value in Agile or any other methodology requires giving software development teams the freedom to solve problems and make their own critical decisions. Team members also need to understand the concepts of product management before they can begin delivering value.
Most importantly, any product-based development methodology must include a clear understanding of the customer or user. Additionally, defining “value” itself also becomes critical when using this approach. Both play a big role in effectively crafting a product vision and strategy for delivering true value to the user.
Any product development methodology aimed at delivering true business value needs some core principles. For example, the entire project team needs to focus on actually solving problems as opposed to only deploying a piece of software. Also make sure everyone truly understands the core business problem before initiating the project.
Importantly, the entire group – including users and stakeholders – needs to agree on the definition of “value” as it relates to the product. Ultimately, the actual business outcome after a product gets deployed remains the true measure of the delivered value.
Work closely with end-users to find out what they truly need, as an empathic approach is a must. Never assume you understand their needs. In fact, any assumptions or perceptions of need must be fully validated before becoming part of the product scope. Use this information to build something focused on meeting only those needs.
Additionally, the corporate suite must empower the product team to make its own decisions. Any interference from above remains a large risk to success. Agree on a way to measure the creation of value throughout the project, and track it on a regular basis. In the end, maintaining an adaptable approach keeps things copacetic until the day of product delivery.
If this modern, value-based approach to software development intrigues you, reach out to our team at NineTwoThree. As experts in building compelling products that deliver true value, we can ensure your exceptional idea makes a real impact on the marketplace. Connect with us to discuss your needs as soon as possible.