Three benefits we unlocked by adopting an agile approach to software development

Main visual : Three benefits we unlocked by adopting an agile approach to software development

What’s the best way to learn: in small steps, or big jumps?

Most of us, I’m fairly sure, would rather take small steps. It’s easier to understand what you’re doing, and work out how to improve, if you break a challenge down into pieces.

That’s how babies learn to walk. That’s how mountain climbers approach the summit. And that’s how Byte tackles software development.

Byte is a software business development unit within Fujitsu. We focus on using an agile method – or small steps – to solve problems for our organization and our customers.

In this blog post, I’m going to explain more about our agile method and the three benefits it has unlocked.

But first, let’s take a closer look at what agile really means.

The principles of agility

When you think about agility, you might imagine a cheetah or a basketball player, because ‘agile’ in the traditional sense is all about moving and changing direction at speed.

It’s no different when you apply the term to software development. As developers, we need to be able to change direction quickly to keep up with the fast-moving software landscape.

When things change, we need to be able to respond – and an agile method allows us to do this.

This is how it works:

  • You break down your work into defined sections, called sprints, which typically last for two weeks at a time
  • After each sprint is over, you go back to the customer and demonstrate your work over the last sprint to gather feedback and ensure the application aligns with the customer’s vision’
  • Then you take the feedback or test results and use them to modify what you’ve built. You might change direction completely, and start doing something new. You might make a few corrections and carry on. It all depends on what you learn
  • You continue to the next sprint until all of the customer’s requirements are met, a solution is delivered and the project is completed.

This iterative approach differs from the traditional waterfall method. There, the developers go away and build a whole solution from top to bottom – without customer feedback – until the solution is complete. This presents problems if the end product doesn’t match your customer’s expectations.

Breaking down the process into more measurable steps is valuable. It helps you ensure you’re delivering exactly what the customer wants at each stage of development.

But this is just one of the benefits of the agile method. What are the others?

1. Driving innovation

The agile approach frees people to be innovative.

This process of constant re-evaluation teaches you to get used to thinking critically about things, and not just accept the status quo.

That was the case with our Multi-Cloud Journey Planner. We produced this tool for employees to use as they go through cloud training and accreditation.

Originally, this was just a PowerPoint presentation. But we realized that this was too static and didn’t capture all the changes that cloud providers make regularly to their accreditation system.

We realized that the traditional approach was not effective nor fit for purpose. So we changed it.

And that’s something we learned from our agile approach.

2. Developing young talent

Byte has established itself as a place for junior talent to grow and learn – and I think some of this is down to our agile approach.

It provides plenty of opportunities for feedback and learning, which is ideal for graduates and apprentices.

Plus, in the modern workforce, there’s something attractive about an innovative approach. It shapes our culture and helps to keep us forward-thinking and modern – but I’ll talk more about this later!

I’m really proud to be part of a team that is providing an opportunity for so many talented individuals. We help them take their first steps in a software development career, continuously nurturing them along that path.

So, It’s important for our organization that we keep developing new talent – and it’s valuable for our customers, who benefit from a fresh way of thinking.

3. Shaping a collaborative culture

At Byte, our ethos is: embracing a culture of learning, growth, and innovation to lead the way of change for our colleagues, customers and community.

The agile approach feeds directly into our ethos. You have to be open-minded to adapt and modify your approach in the middle of a project. You also have to know how to collaborate and support your colleagues.

To get the most out of each sprint, we need to make sure we’re pulling together as a scrum team.

Being in Byte is like being part of a big family: everyone is really passionate about software development, and everyone wants to help each other out.

And we try to extend our time to benefit the wider community too. We regularly get involved in hackathons to support various charity causes and Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

It’s this culture that makes Byte such an inspiring team to be a part of – and it’s been unlocked by our use of the agile approach.

Agility is the answer

I like to think that Byte is a great example of what can be achieved when you choose to go agile.

We started as a team of four and now we’re a team of fifteen – set to double in size by October this year!

And this growth has been spurred on by our huge success. Building the Multi-Cloud Journey Planner has been an amazing experience. Now I’m looking forward to seeing how it will contribute to the lives of our colleagues across Fujitsu.

Adopting an agile approach may be difficult to master and not for every project.

But it’s perfect for software development; it helped us become a more collaborative team and forge a culture we could all be proud of.