Like many development teams, we use the Agile project management methodology to deliver world-class customized software solutions for our clients. However, what does that mean for you, the person for whom the software is being developed? Agile works best when the customer and the development team are aligned and working together. Agile software development works using an iterative approach. Because of this approach, the best outcomes are when the customer and the development team can work as one.
The three key attributes of a great Agile customer.
#1 A great customer lives the four fundamental agile values.
- Individuals and interaction over processes and tools – Conversations, communication, and feedback loops are the keys to success.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation – You should expect, and be given, working software that you can see and touch after every sprint. That should be the development team’s focus, not reams of paperwork and red tape.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation – First, you need to agree on the outlines of the contract. After that, you and the development team should aim to have a flexible approach to working together to deliver great software for you. One of the Agile methodology’s significant advantages is that you have working software to be able to check on progress at the end of each sprint. In other words, a detailed, step-by-step contract is less critical than it was with waterfall methodology.
- Responding to change over following a plan – be flexible in your approach. You and the development team have the goal of delivering software that is an excellent outcome for your business. Above all, keep this at the center of the work, and you can be flexible on how you get there.
#2 A great customer owns the process, from start to finish.
- You are the person who will own the product. The development team needs you invested in each decision to ensure that you get the outcome you want. You know your business and your requirements best.
- We take massive pride in the quality of the software we build, and so do most development teams. However, the reality is you’ll be using the solution long after the developers complete it and move onto the next project.
#3 A great customer is an active, available, and informed partner to their development team.
Because Agile is an iterative process, it works best when the customer is an integral part of the team. Get to know your development team’s ways of working. In addition, as best as you can, become proficient in using their tools to communicate and to interact with them. Examples include creating cards in their project management tool, talking in their messaging application, and using their ways of working. As a result, the process will be smoother, more efficient, and quicker to deliver your software product.
The iterative nature of Agile means that there will be times the development team is waiting on your feedback. The result is that the faster they get your feedback, the quicker they will act on it. Fast feedback makes for a fast response. The ideal is if you can use their tools for your feedback. It makes delivering and working on feedback so much easier, more precise, and faster.
We deliver great software using Agile. Our best results are with customers who buy into the Agile mindset. Research and experience show that following these three fundamental principles as a customer will give the development team all the support they need to deliver software that exceeds your wildest expectations.