Agile methodologies and continuous delivery of value to the customer

Isidoro Alonso, Software Engineer y Scrum Master en EDICOM, nos habla de metodologías ágiles y de entrega continua de valor al cliente para adaptarse rápidamente a las condiciones cambiantes del entorno.

Over the last two decades, the concept that organizations operate in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) environment has become widespread. In this scenario, businesses must continually adapt to change and agile methodologies such as Scrum are a perfect fit.

With the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has changed from an unstable to a chaotic environment. There is no guarantee that any prediction will come true and we must be fully prepared to react quickly to this new reality. Now more than ever, the only constant is change. We find ourselves faced with an environment that is starting to be known as BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible).

This new era requires us to be inexorably open to change, whether we like it or not. Projects have to evolve, change and adapt continuously and rapidly to new environmental conditions that can change in a few hours. Organizations that cling to a model based on a VUCA environment are doomed to disappear. Agile methodologies have gone from being a way of improving and optimizing services and products to an indispensable tool for survival as an organization in today’s environment.

In this context, one of the basic tenets of Scrum, and one of the most important, is “continuous delivery of value to the customer”, as it allows for rapid adaptation to changing environmental conditions.

Using Scrum involves making continuous deliveries to the client in a very short time and from the early stages of the project. These deliveries must be of value to the client. No non-functional or useless parts of the project are delivered. All deliverables must provide value, be finished, fully tested and functional before going into production. Moreover, it is not just about delivering value, but maximizing the value delivered to the client in each sprint by focusing on the features of high value to the customer in the early stages of development.

Customer deliveries: benefits

By delivering to the customer very early in the project, the following benefits are achieved:

  • Client involvement.The client gets involved in the project from the outset and does not have to wait for months before seeing an initial version. This lets them see that their project is evolving and ongoing, which avoids situations where the client has not seen anything yet and starts to get nervous. This involvement also means that when we have a final version, the client has already validated it throughout the project development phase, gradually adapting it to their needs, so that the product fully meets their requirements. We achieve a satisfied customer in a highly trusting work environment.
  • FlexibilityIncreased responsiveness to errors. With Scrum we have continuous feedback. The client can assess whether each delivery meets their expectations and if not, the development can be corrected/changed very quickly without having wasted much time. This also entails a working environment with full transparency between the parties.
  • Adaptability.Consists of having the ability to make adjustments to the project to minimize deviations or to change the project completely. Projects must be open to change. A perfectly defined project may no longer be valid for a client, for example, if their main competitor overtakes them in the market or if market conditions change due to a pandemic. In this kind of situation, the entire project must be rethought by the client and the development team must be able to react and adapt to the new project circumstances quickly and efficiently.
  • Pilot schemes with end users in early project phases. Developments are managed by the technical departments of the client company and the developer’s company, but the end user is usually not involved in this phase. It is very important to get the end-user involved as soon as possible in pilot phases to get their early feedback and be able to make modifications or corrections to the software to adapt it to the end user’s real needs in the initial phases of rollout as quickly as possible.
  • Faster time to production. As value is being provided in all deliveries, the project can get off to a much faster start, as it is possible that with 50-60% of the project development, our clients can already reach an important part of their potential users/clients. This way, you can start the project in phases, anticipating the return on investment and gaining possible advantages over your competitors by taking advantage of market opportunities that may arise.