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Lessons learned while doing agile development in a large company

Author: Isabelle Desmet

Various software development methodologies have been introduced the past decades. Using a systematic approach to software development will make your team work more efficiently to create better products. Every methodology has its own pros and cons. Depending on the company, the project, and the team, you need to make a choice. However, to make sure you can reap the benefits of the chosen methodology, it is crucial to adhere to the principles.

This article will distillate 4 practical lessons learned from a low-code application development project, needed to make agile development a success in your company.

1. ‘Why’ becomes your new favorite word

As with any methodology, the end-users are one of most important stakeholders. We want our end-product to become a solution delivering real value to them. However, end-users often have a state-of-the-art solution in mind that solves certain ad hoc inconveniences – they often not do not look beyond the surface. Additionally, end-users are not necessarily the management or the sponsors of your solution, so the goal of the solution might be different depending on the stakeholder.

To make all parties look in the same direction, contrarily to what you might think, is not to discuss the solution with them, but to discuss the true problems they have. What you should do is luckily relatively easy, just ask ‘Why?’. Listen closely and ask ‘Why?’ again. As many times as needed to help your stakeholders find out themselves what the core of their problem is.

Based on an articulated problem, with a defined root cause, you can identify the business needs that your application should solve, resulting in a clear goal to work towards.

Make sure to align all stakeholders on that goal, as afterwards you will need to keep applying this way of thinking. Also, during the actual development phases, be prepared to ask ‘Why?’ again. You want to guard the solution you are working on and not say yes to requests coming from all stakeholders that are nice to haves and do not add value to reach the goal that gives an answer to the core problem.

Have the problem in mind and think from an end-user perspective to work towards a solution.

2. Create an end-user core team

From start to finish, it is crucial that your stakeholders are involved. To begin with, they need to understand what agile is. Explain what working in iterations means, explain that they are seeing a work in progress. Demos should be interactive and next to the demos it is important to keep engagement high. Involve everyone along the way and have transparency of what is done.