Applying Agile : Building Working Solutions using agile methods and approaches

When we are building solutions, whether its a product, service, process, system or other working solution, we can use an agile approach to identify viable options and deliver new working solutions quickly.

We can use agile thinking and methods to help us to develop new products or services.

Here’s a simple example of a website development project comparing traditional and agile approaches to development:

User Story : Web Site Build Project

“As a Business, we need a new website, so that we can promote and grow the business.”

Let’s imagine we are developing a new website. The new website will have 100 pages, and a number of features including a shop, blog, events calendar and jobs board for our company. The project is to be completed in 6 months.

The pyramids below show two approaches, the Traditional linear approach on the left, and an agile approach on the right

.Agile Working Solutions

Taking a more traditional approach we would plan our website fully upfront, then build it, and then publish it when all 100 pages and features are complete in 6 months time.

If we were to publish the website after 2 months we might see 100 functional pages online, but those pages would be empty of content and features, the site is functional but its not usable or meaningful for the user.

An Agile Approach

If we take a more agile approach, we can break our website into sprints of work, a sprint might be 1 month, so our project would have 6 sprints.

Each sprint would develop a slice of the website, some of the pages and a feature, at the end of the sprint the site can be published with the pages and features that have been completed.

For example if we were to publish after 2 months, we might see 10 functional pages, with the shop feature and jobs board up and running.

Pages and features that are the highest priority and value would be built first. For example the shop so that we can begin to trade our products and services online, and the Jobs Board to help with an urgent recruitment campaign.

By taking an agile approach the website can be built according to need and what features are the highest priority.

agile sprint method

Our first release of our product after our first sprint is like the first slice of cake. Rather like the cake we can build our product in slices, a slice of our product is released each sprint, our work in progress and then our initial Minimum Viable Product.

This approach enables us to create an early working solution to help us to deliver value, validate the solution is viable, and gain feedback to inform our future sprints and make improvements and changes based on our learning.

This is a great video showing the iterative development of a lego car, and its evolution to deal with scope creep of the widening gap!

Its a great metaphor for the scenario we often find ourselves in where we are building solutions, and then after time, we need them to do more.

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