One of the most important aspects of Agile development methodology is engagement. Engagement of the team in the success of the project all the way from major milestones down to the details of individual features by involving them in the planning and decision making. Engagement of the stakeholders by giving them access to incremental builds and allowing for feedback and direction.
This places ownership of the success of a project as much on the stakeholders as on the development team. Giving the whole team visibility to stakeholder responses keeps them engaged in outcomes and grants everyone a sense of ownership for delivery.
Agile development is about setting achievable goals and meeting them. It’s also about making sure that those goals make sense in terms of the business goals for the project. Breaking the work down piece by piece and figuring out which parts provide the most value early on means that the stakeholders are able to realize the value sooner, and make any adjustments to requirements that become obvious as the project progresses.
It also allows everyone to find out what, if any, aspects of a project may be more challenging, or represent lower ROI, before a lot of time is spent on them.
An Agile process allows for flexibility. This means that when the obvious happens, and new information comes to light about priorities, or new opportunities arise, there’s a process in place to give the stakeholders the power to make adjustments to scope without risking the success of the project as a whole. It also means that if the development team encounters an unanticipated challenge, they can involve the stakeholders in decision making for how to address it, giving them options rather than just slogging ahead with a bad solution.
An Agile process is a transparent process. Regular backlog grooming, sprint planning, sprint reviews and access to frequent incremental releases give stakeholders the ability to see and gauge, progress versus cost. It also allows the development team to set realistic expectations by giving the stakeholders insight into challenges as they come up rather than surprising them down the road.
An Agile process works when both parties, the stakeholders and the development team, have a view of both the forest and the trees. When a Product Owner has their finger on the pulse of the project, and the development team can see the whole roadmap and forecast what’s coming ahead, there’s a much better chance for a project to be successful.
An Agile development process focuses on quality. For each incremental update, there is routine testing and bug fixing built into the process. Being realistic and accounting for that is what results in better quality. None of us is as smart as all of us. Engaging the team and the stakeholders together in the project goals and in delivering quality products makes for better outcomes.
That’s why Agile works.