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Agile – giving the business options back

When they hear ‘agile software development’, a lot of people think that this is somewhat of a geeky thing. While there might be admittedly also a lot more fun and fulfillment in agile projects for software developers, there are BIG benefits for the business as well. In this blog post, I’ll have a look at agile projects from the business’ / sponsor’ point of view.

I believe the key to many advantages for the business is the following: The solution is being implemented in executable increments – you get a slice more of your solution with every sprint. You can review and give feedback all the way through. This implies a lot more transparency – rather than pouring money into a black box and waiting for months until you get a glimpse of the final result, you get it from early on, piece by piece. Plus, the most critical, highest priority requirements are implemented first.

Sounds nice? It gets better when you think it through: It gives you options back!

A few examples: You could go to market earlier, when you think you have generated enough value to offer to your customers. Or, you could stop the project, if you discover risks EARLY in the project that would make it too expensive / late / whatever.

It also facilitates informed cross-project prioritization and trade-offs: Imagine you’re a few months into a project, and another high-priority project comes up. In a waterfall environment, you might just be mid way through the implementation phase – a lot of design and implementation efforts have been invested, but no result is there yet. It may be prudent but very painful to stop the project at this point.
Now imagine you had run the project using Scrum or another agile framework: At this point, you would probably have some of the highest priority requirements implemented already. So even if you decided to stop the project (i.e., not implement remaining, lower-priority user stories), you would still have generated business value!

And b.t.w. – Net Present Value (NPV), a common method for financial project/investment appraisal is a great fit with agile approaches! But that’s the topic for my next blog post…

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