Agile software development has long since been a project management methodology of choice for development teams, and for a good few reasons. As every modern software development company focuses on building iteratively, cloud-based infrastructure such as AWS services enable swift deployments, including those of a continuous nature. The industry of software development in Asia has been replete with projects that belong to leading international brands, which also indicate the willingness of businesses to participate in remote collaboration, in the interest of working with only the very best development teams.
Being a software outsourcing company in Sri Lanka, EFutures has always strived to be front and centre of technology trends that facilitate Agile software development. As brands compete across a fierce business landscape, the pressure to attract customers mounts since markets are over-saturated with options. Customers are spoilt for choice even in the most niche of specialties, and impressing potential customers enough to consider your product is still just one challenge out of many. Once in the funnel, retaining their engagement and interest in the long-term feels like a steep hill to climb, with competitors always vying for their attention.
With the vast majority of modern consumers now online, digital advertising is a highly valuable avenue for reaching the right audiences. However, increasing volumes of content flood the average customer’s news feed. Such inundation reduces the amount of time each post or ad receives, leading to reduced attention spans on the part of the customer. With so many variables to contend with, businesses need to distinguish themselves as the worthier option for their customers – else risk losing out to their competition.
This is where a customer-centric digital application comes into the picture. By truly listening to your customers and building a product that adds value to their lives, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones becomes an accomplishment that is driven by customers themselves i.e. by word-of-mouth marketing. Agile software development is only the means to this end, and doing it right can truly elevate your presence across the digital space.
Giving your customers what they are looking for at precisely the time they need it will make your app successful in the digital space. This goes without saying, but how can this be achieved? It all starts by truly listening to customer needs, and tying those expectations with your product’s unique set of offerings. Connecting the dots this way is what shall help teams understand how such demands can be facilitated. Dissecting this theory a little deeper, it is useful to observe that teams across the organisation need to evolve, in order to accommodate such changes – that too on a repeated basis. Without mutual alignment on a macro enterprise level, customer-centric product development won’t be attainable.
Customer feedback can be sourced from several channels, with contact centres and app reviews being some of the most popular as of current. By identifying which preferences are most frequently demanded by customers, your Agile development team can begin scoping how the same can be offered, within budget and within a reasonable frame of time. Once deployed, this process needs to repeat, so that your product is always maintained – but is also always in line with what customers desire.
The Agile manifesto places great emphasis on working software. Even if it is small and minimalistic, software that can be used to fulfil requests and process tasks is worth more than a bulkier counterpart which may take significantly longer to release. In spite of having lesser features and functionalities, the usefulness of working software makes it a more viable option, in turn being a true measurement of progress in Agile software development.
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a minimalistic first version of an otherwise intricate application, that is released to the public owing to numerous advantages. For one, it fulfils the accomplishment of releasing working software to users, in spite of having less features. With limited functionality, the application is less cluttered, and thereby easy to use. MVPs can drastically lower the learning curve, if executed right.
As users get accustomed to the application faster, they engage faster. This also speeds the process of receiving feedback, which will be replete with suggestions on useful features that can be added for further improvement. This way, your product and subsequently your brand will only offer features that customers genuinely need and use. In turn, your Agile software development team will be more productive, as their effort will only be expended on useful features, while also reducing the clutter of unused features in an application.
Agile software development can neither be done in a vacuum, nor can it be executed based on the opinions of a subjective few. Organisations deploying products and functionalities based on hypothetical analysis is painfully common; while an insightful hypothesis can spark valuable reflection among teams, it needs to be proven viable with reliable data before it can be executed.
In spite of advanced analytics tools and even AI-based reporting systems now being within easy access, many organisations still build products that are based on assumptions. While this is an unsuccessful strategy, it is also an expensive one, as application capabilities that aren’t useful begin to accumulate. Therefore, it is imperative for strategies to be data-driven when it comes to Agile software development – especially where constrained budgets, timeframes and manpower are involved.
Crunching the numbers post each software iteration can help teams understand customer engagement and app performance on a deeper level, so successive iterations can be built with these insights in mind. While this removes the margin for errors based on hypothetical assumptions, it also powers your digital presence to add value to the lives of your customers, thereby helping your business meet its objectives and maximise revenue.
As teams focus on the same project on a daily basis, it is easy to fixate on issues which may look major, but are, in fact, not the impediments that they seem, when observed from the outside in. Ultimately, your software or mobile app needs to fulfil certain business objectives, by first fulfilling customer needs. Whenever your team encounters a bottleneck, it is therefore sensible to take a step back and ask: is this eventually going to hinder the achievement of our end objectives?
It’s surprising to observe that the answer could be ‘no’, in more cases than expected. If so, teams can forgo re-calibrating their priorities, so they are able to optimise their efforts for effective application turnarounds. Owing to its oblivious nature, getting sucked down the proverbial rabbit hole is harder to avoid than most presume. Therefore, it is useful to have team members check in on each other’s work, to ensure nobody is ruminating on tasks, processes or bottlenecks any more than they really should.
As large amounts of data are exchanged between even the smallest apps today, cybersecurity and compliance remain an ongoing concern for businesses. Cyberattacks are rampant, and regulatory authorities continue to increase restrictions on how confidential customer data can be stored, managed and shared. For both these reasons, infusing cybersecurity and compliance protocols from the get-go in your Agile software development process can instil effective frameworks that help protect precious data, while also delivering accurate logs for third-party auditing processes.
Cybersecurity capabilities such as penetration testing and adversary simulation can help teams proactively detect loopholes in application networks. However, analysing source code for vulnerabilities early on during the Agile development lifecycle can detect potential problems faster, and can also be less expensive to rectify. With comprehensive application security tools, businesses can maintain a steady DevSecOps cycle that helps prioritise on cybersecurity, so your network perimeters are always protected.
Agile software development is a project management methodology that is undoubtedly popular owing to its bite-sized goals and emphasis on working software. However, building software the Agile way requires keen reflection into a company’s own processes, with product objectives being of the highest priority. As teams focus on building a product that customers truly love, everything else will follow suit. The question is, how?
Being a broad statement to make, businesses need to look deeper, and organise their findings that will eventually help them build an effective yet sustainable product strategy. Listening to customer feedback and measuring engagement can help teams analyse what is working and what isn’t, so applications can be upgraded to suit demands better. As teams work on an application day in and day out, it is easy to sweat the small stuff. This is why it is always wise to take a step back and look at the big picture, especially by asking whether business objectives are being met by the task at hand.