Digital transformation is becoming a necessity for organisations wishing to prosper in the digital era. A study by Cegid/IDC shows that since 2020, more than half of companies have initiated a digital transformation process. However, this process requires the right approach to be deployed effectively. Agile methods are particularly well-suited to managing change. Let’s take a look at the underlying reasons for this fruitful symbiosis.
An agile method is an iterative approach based on collaboration between the various stakeholders in a project. In concrete terms, the work is organised in short development cycles known as sprints. At the end of each sprint, an operational version of the product is produced.
This approach differs from traditional waterfall methods in its ability to adapt quickly to changing user needs. Functionalities are validated as they are delivered, making it easy to incorporate any necessary adjustments. Among the leading agile methods, Scrum is the benchmark framework. It structures the project in successive sprints led by an autonomous multi-disciplinary team. Ongoing communication within the team and with the customer ensures a high level of responsiveness.
The life cycle of an agile project is structured around five essential phases:
This first stage aims to lay the foundations for the project. It begins by defining the business and functional objectives in agreement with the customer. On this basis, the project team is put together, bringing together the necessary skills: developers, testers, project manager, etc.
User requirements are then identified and prioritised according to their added value for the customer. This makes it possible to plan the functionalities to be developed in the first sprints, starting with the most critical. Finally, the scope and overall schedule are defined in the form of a feature delivery roadmap.
This stage precedes each sprint to define its precise content. The team selects which of the prioritised functionalities can be developed in the coming sprint. To do this, it uses velocity, an indicator that measures its production capacity. The customer validates that the features correspond to his current expectations.
Once the scope of the sprint has been defined, the team plans the distribution of tasks: who will do what and when. The developers estimate the time required for each task. Finally, a measurable objective is set for the sprint (number of features delivered, for example).
During this phase, the team collaboratively builds the functionalities envisaged during the planning phase. It is autonomous and self-organised according to its own working methods, in line with the agile framework.
Daily routines such as standup meetings help to coordinate progress. Developers work in pairs and frequently use continuous integration to merge their code. Automated tests check that the software does not regress with each update.
At the end of the sprint, the team delivers an operational version incorporating the new functionalities developed and tested. This version is demonstrated to the customer, who validates that it meets their current expectations.
Based on the user experience and customer feedback, corrections and improvements can be quickly incorporated into the version. Once validated, this incremental version is deployed in production for real use by end users.
This final stage occurs when the software reaches the end of its life and must be progressively withdrawn from production and taken out of service.
Several scenarios can lead to this withdrawal. The most common is the launch of a major new version that renders the old version obsolete. As the old version is no longer being maintained, customers are informed that it will soon be decommissioned and are assisted in the migration process.
Withdrawal can also occur if the software is no longer economically viable. In this case, customers are notified of the phasing out and guided towards alternative solutions.
In all cases, end-of-life means the end of support and product updates. The team now focuses on maintaining the product in operational condition and transitioning customers to new solutions.
There are three main reasons for this virtuous alliance.
Firstly, digital transformation is imposing an exponential pace of change on SMEs. Technologies and practices are evolving at lightning speed. To keep pace with these perpetual changes, businesses need to become more agile, or risk becoming rapidly obsolete. Agile methods provide them with the necessary capacity to adapt.
Furthermore, agile software development is based on frequent delivery of operational versions. This disruptive solution means that end-users can quickly test functionalities. Their feedback feeds into the continuous improvement of the product. In this way, we can identify and remedy any errors as early as possible.
What’s more, constant communication between all the stakeholders, whether external or internal to the project, ensures a high level of responsiveness. Market expectations are captured in real time so that the product can evolve accordingly.
In short, agile methods combine speed of execution with the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment. This agility is essential if organisations are to succeed in their digital transformation. The combination of these two approaches generates a powerful evolutionary dynamic. Organisations that know how to adopt this winning combination will gain a decisive competitive advantage. They will be able to move with ease in the shifting terrain of digital technology, to keep in step with market expectations at all times. Responsiveness and proactivity will become their watchwords.
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