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This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Ask yourself – is the Agile method right for your startup?

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – As a software engineer, over the years I’ve noticed how young startups tend to copy or emulate successful software development companies.

I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. However, sometimes this can hurt a team’s culture if this adopted process doesn’t fit with the startup’s principles or values.

This is where the “Agile” software development approach comes into the picture. The model embodies adaptive planning, innovative improvements and continual development for prominent software developers.

But let’s slow down a little bit. First of all, we need to talk about what isn’t Agile.

Misconceptions

The first thing Google tells you about Agile is that it’s a methodology to develop software faster. Maybe you have heard that this framework or process emerged to help companies improve software development processes while solving problems.

Rest assured – it’s not that simple.

My apologies, but the Agile method isn’t any of those things. I know, it sounds heartbreaking, but let me tell you what I think. Personally, this system represents a company’s principles and values to create great products.

According to The Agile Manifesto, the method places more value on individuals and interactions versus processes and tools.  More emphasis is also placed on working software than comprehensive documentation, in addition to customer collaboration taking precedence over contract negotiation.

What’s more essential is responding to change instead of simply following a plan.

This by itself may not be so helpful. The thing is, the Agile mangement style isn’t something written in stone. It’s not some silver bullet or a set of rules that miraculously create better products.

In my opinion, this is the first thing that people get wrong when implementing the practice in their startup.

Unsurprisingly, many teams claim to be Agile just because they are following some practices they saw on another company use. Reality check – this doesn’t make your team any more productive than the next.

Tips

What people don’t realize is that Agile encompasses practices that your team can appropriate into their development process. Use what you like, scrap what you don’t.

Therefore, to truly embrace all things Agile, you must make decisions using the methodology on top of your own business values. Moreover, don’t be afraid to change your developmental process if it isn’t working.

If your business is serious about utilizing the Agile method to improve product development, here are five tips to get you started:

1. Support, motivate and trust those involved in developing the product.

2. Functional software is the primary measure of progress.

3. Create a simple development process and deliver just enough to get the job done. Remember, complete is better than perfect.

4. Avoid delays when features or requirements suddenly change and continue with your standard development process.

5. Gain customer satisfaction through early and continuous product delivery.

What does it matter if a daily stand-up isn’t necessary for your team? Nothing if you’re truly an Agile believer.

-DG

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