In every business project, there is a general desire to get the end result as quickly and efficiently as possible. But there are many paths to get there, including countless dead ends. Today I will share with you an insight into the agile approach we use at easy.bi.
How to Discover Client’s True Needs
At the beginning of our cooperation, easy.bi strives to define the wishes as well as the key needs of the customer that drive these wishes as clearly, tangibly and precisely as possible with the help of the right questions. I will return to the case of building a house that I explained here, as it provides a very clear idea of which factors play a key role.
Let’s say a customer comes to a contractor with a desire to have big windows. In this initial process, the contractor must guide the client with the right questions until they come to a key need that drives the client’s desire to have large windows. Let’s say a client points out that he wants to have enough light because he likes to have breakfast in the sun. This provides information that the client must have enough light in the morning and not in the evening. From this information, the contractor must compose a well-founded story in which he clearly defines the cause-and-effect relationship, i.e.: the client needs light because he wants to eat breakfast in the sun. For the contractor, this is a necessary fact, as it means that the dining room windows must be placed in the east and not, for example, in the south, where there will also be enough sun, but not in the morning when the client needs it the most.
What does such an Approach Bring and how is it Different?
The key advantage of this approach is, on the one hand, that it requires the contractor to focus on the client’s key pains and to be able to describe and define them so well that the solution will respond directly to them. On the other hand, there is a big difference in the next step.
In classical project management in all industries, the so-called “waterfall” process has usually been used (and still is), which means that on the one hand, contractors get full of requirements and wishes, which they implement all the time. But on the other hand, the emerging product or solution is not checked and approved with the client promptly. In the classical approach to projects, the preparation phase usually takes a long time and when the final solution is presented at the end, it is very often not in line with expectations.
Why? It very often happens that during the solution process itself a huge number of situations change, which sabotages this kind of approach. The agile approach is very different from this point of view, as the key driver is to take several small steps and provide some intermediate solutions as soon as possible, which can be evaluated and used to monitor whether the project is developing in the right direction.
It is better to take smaller, faster steps, throw away and improve as many times as necessary because through this process it is easier, faster and more efficient to get a product that either perfects the initial requirements or takes into account any changes in the business process.Andrej Lovsin
What are the Advantages of an Agile Approach for the Client?
Let’s go back to our architectural example. The classic procedure would be to gather ideas for a very long time and discuss several possible solutions. Then a dining room would be drawn and it would include several other things, such as electrical wiring and everything else that would make sense from the initial point of view, and after the construction was completed, the client would enter the finished dining room. However, there would be a problem either that there would be no sun at ten in the morning or that in the meantime the situation has already changed and the person can no longer have breakfast due to other obligations.
With the agile approach, the situation would be significantly different. The contractors would say that to start they will build two key walls out of paper, cut a window opening in them, place the walls in a suitable location within two days, add an improvised plastic table and invite the client to come to this room for breakfast. This way, the client could quickly determine if the solution was right. Otherwise, the papers would be discarded and a contractor would set up a new room would in the next two days.
It is in human nature that we do not like to “throw away”, but on the other hand, the most expensive wrong investments happen because contractors strive for the desire for perfection, which in most cases cannot be achieved without intermediate steps.
It is better to take smaller, faster steps, throw away and improve as many times as necessary because through this process it is easier, faster and more efficient to get a product that either perfects the initial requirements or takes into account any changes in the business process.
How can a Client Know that the Collaboration is on the Right Track?
The contractor must indicate a clear path, ie not only make promises about the results but also indicate a path that will sooner or later lead to the desired solution to the client’s “pain” or discover new challenges or improvements along the way. The classic approach promises this on paper, but with the agile approach, the client constantly participates in all intermediate steps and checkpoints. Instead of waiting two months for a dining room, which does not necessarily meet client’s needs, a cardboard construction can be made in just a few days and it enables the client to check whether the decision is optimal.
In my experience, an agile approach enables one of the fastest and most cost-optimal ways to the final result in the implementation of projects. The answer to why this is so can be deduced from the following key points.
- At the beginning of the cooperation, the task of the contractor is to address the key needs of the client with the right questions and to clearly define or describe them, which is the starting point for all further steps. This is essential for the whole process.
- Intermediate solutions and individual project steps are prepared quickly and at short intervals so that the client can get real feedback as quickly as possible and monitor the progress of the project.
- With an agile approach, we avoid the challenge of ultimately providing the client with a solution that is not in line with their expectations and initial desire, as the client is constantly involved in the process and receives clear feedback on whether the project is moving in the desired direction.
- By far the cheapest and fastest way, for example, is to put up a cardboard construction before the actual construction, check if everything serves its purpose and, if necessary, dismiss it and prepare a new one. If we start the construction at the beginning, we cannot or can hardly change anything later, certainly with significantly higher costs and time spent.
Would you Like to know more?
We use an agile approach to take care of digital transformation and we can help you reach your goals most efficiently. Contact us and experience first-hand what it’s like to work with us.