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Build Faster with Agile App Development: 3 Case Studies Compared

by Wendy Dessler / January 23, 2019
#Management
Agile app development

Though the term is thrown around a lot in the app development world, agile isn’t a tool. It’s a methodology for building software in increments to add more flexibility and efficiency to organizations. Today, things move faster. Think of all the innovations we’ve seen in the last few years. Tech companies don’t have time to sit still, and businesses always need to be looking forward.

Agile is now the go-to framework for helping apps launch quickly and effectively. It’s all about collaboration, creating quality products, and staying flexible in the face of new technology. However, as appealing as all these methodologies are, they don’t happen overnight.

One of the biggest challenges for new businesses and software developers is just how long it can take to fully integrate the agile model. In the app development world, any lost time is money lost, so the hesitation to start something new is understandable . Many developers and organizations might already be comfortable with other strategies like waterfall. However, it’s clear that agile is one of the key players in the future of app development. The time is now to take the plunge.

You know how agile works. You understand why it’s so successful. But, how does it work in real life? How do real-world businesses go from a completely different method—or no clear method at all—to agile without losing excessive time, money, and patience? In truth, businesses tackle this in a number of different ways, some of which might surprise you. What they all share is their success, though it doesn’t always come easily.

Let’s examine 3 distinct, real-life case studies of agile integration in agile app development to see the trials and tribulations play out for themselves. There’s something you can learn from their difficulties as well as their dedication to the method. 

AGILE APP DEVELOPMENT CASE STUDIES

CASE STUDY #1: STORM ID

Storm ID is a Scottish app development agency that works quickly to plan and prototype new applications. Jane Gibb explains the company’s “mission impossible” when faced with a project for Historic Environment Scotland (HES). The project was to build a grant application platform for the organization, and this was a complex undertaking. The real kicker? They only had six weeks to launch.

Because they were in such a time crunch, Gibb’s team opted for a sprint, one of the key methodologies utilized in agile development. She used the five-day process for understanding all her design ideas to get the project off to a successful start. The key here was to bring in experts from all areas of the company; this meant developers, designers, marketers, etc. Everyone was involved in the sprint to make real progress.

The client was even brought in for these important sprint sessions. Decisions needed to be made quickly, and having the client readily available for questions, approval, and testing was essential. After the spring, Gibb’s team turned to the testing phase, and from there they continued to learn and build upon that feedback. In six weeks, the product was launched successfully.

Agile Success

  • Built a testable prototype in 5 days

What Worked:

  • SPRINT method
  • Including the client as the decision maker in key meetings
  • Sticking to the timeline

CASE STUDY #2: TECH COMPANY

Quantative Software Management, Inc. conducted a case study for an anonymous tech company already using waterfall. The company wanted to gain a competitive edge, so they decided on making the transition to agile on a small scale in 2010. However, it was a flop. The agile teams were 5 points slower when it came to productivity compared to waterfall teams.

What happened? The tech company realized they lacked the right infrastructure and organizational mind shift to make the new methodology work. They decided to invest more money and time into training tools for current developers. These tools and methods were taught with agile in mind, so there was a new element of training introduced for their second round of agile.

In 2011, they tried again with the agile team. This time, thanks to organizational support, they saw real results. Now, their agile teams were performing at almost 3 points higher in productivity than their waterfall teams, and that’s only after a single year. It was a massive improvement, and one other businesses could learn from.

Agile Success

  • Agile teams become more productive than waterfall teams

What Worked

  • Providing assessment tools and ongoing training
  • Company-wide support and integration of agile
  • Allowing agile time to settle within the new team

CASE STUDY #3: ING

Finally, global bank ING decided to undertake an agile journey in 2015 with their app development. McKinsey Quarterly interviewed two senior executives about their experience only to find that agile was a raging success for their organization, though it didn’t happen overnight.

ING led this new initiative because they felt pressured by leading apps and software in other industries. Players like Google, Netflix, and Spotify were changing user expectations, and ING needed to adapt. They decided to create 350 9-people squads in 13 “tribes” to tackle this new approach to development.

Click here to learn more about the Spotify model!

Over the course of 8-9 months, they saw big improvements in their time to market, employee engagement, and productivity. The executives outlined 4 elements that played into this transformation:

  1. The agile methodology itself, which encourages collaboration
  2. Clarity in organizational structure and leadership
  3. Continuous delivery approach to DevOps
  4. Mixing workers of different levels and expertise

By the end of their 9-month period, the new process was implemented across their entire headquarters. It even began to spread across their other locations, and now it’s the new normal.

Agile Success

  • Improved delivery time, employee engagement, and overall productivity
  • Kept up with app development trends
  • Headquarter adaptation in 9 months

What Worked

  • Focusing on collaboration
  • Setting clear goals
  • Breaking down barriers between leaders and developer

USING AGILE SUCCESSFULLY

These case studies above showcase how effective agile can be when used by a serious company. It’s not an overnight success, by any means, and sometimes it can take years to get right, as seen in the second case study. That said, it’s worth it.

There’s a big pay-off in trying new things, like data-driven development today. As we said before, there’s no longer any room for sitting still. Understanding your app’s productivity, success and performance is more important now than ever. From sprints to mixed teams, agile is the way of the future as far as development is concerned. For more information on how to continue your agile app development after the project ends, check Python Network Monitoring and Error Handling.

Ultimately, it takes time and energy to make any new method work, especially when teams are already accustomed to something else. However, it’s more than worth it. Have you made the switch? If so, what worked for your teams?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.