Agile Method

Agile drives mobile: with Rapid Application Development in the Fast Lane

It is becoming increasingly common to hear that companies have to find a way to bring “business” and “IT departments” together. After all, it is in particular through the use of innovative software and mobile applications that valuable competitive advantages can be gained and retained. And this is where an “agile” method comes in, which in the light of the current global situation becomes as important as ever before. Agile has shaped tools such as low-code and rapid application development (RAD) platforms,  making it possible to develop app releases in correspondingly short cycles. The resulting flexibility enables IT teams to adapt quickly to changing business conditions. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, the low-code market is growing by almost 40 percent as it is helping companies reduce the time needed to develop, test, and deploy the solutions they need. Thus it becomes clear that companies that rely on low code have greater organizational agility than those that do not use a low code approach at all. So what opportunities can companies harness from this approach?

Agility creates a new understanding of objectives

The Agile method cannot simply be introduced into a company: if projects are planned in rigid sequences, small delays are enough to disrupt the plan. In the day-to-day operations of an IT team, this means that applications cannot simply be developed from one day to the next, nor can they be created for functional departments in a short time. Many traditional projects, such as infrastructure construction, bridges, or other transport projects, are often planned in a linear sequence. With methods such as Gantt or Waterfall, tasks are processed one after the other. With these methods, once a task is completed, the teams involved devote themselves to the next one. Delays then continue until the end of the project, as experience shows. Agile working operates differently and, above all, cross-functionally [see the importance of bridging business and IT].

Instead of a very detailed planning process, many tasks and challenges are tackled simultaneously. To succeed in this, a clearly defined goal is needed. Teams, whether in business departments, management, or in IT itself, approach solutions together in many small steps. They divide a broad goal into many smaller, manageable objectives. This makes it easier to react to changing conditions and adapt more easily. As more people with different professional perspectives work together, the more innovative the solutions can be. But in order to benefit from all these perspectives, you need the right software that can manage such an agile approach and make this process visible to everyone. With a roadmap clearly mapped out on the development platform (RAD), several applications can be developed in the shortest possible time, thus creating an overview of the desired goals – visible to everyone involved, business or IT alike. Shorter development cycles allow for a higher rate of feedback, which in turn leads to higher quality applications with increased user acceptance. A good vicious circle that requires a high level of commitment from all parties involved, which is only possible by breaking down existing internal barriers.

Removing internal barriers

Rapid application platforms reverse the traditional IT model. Instead of developers determining how an application should look by themselves, line management can now become an active part of the process. Much of what used to be set up in Excel spreadsheets or clipboard checklists can now be edited using cloud-based software. The main advantage here is the visual access to elements of their application development environment. Because it is more transparent and easier to use, frontline managers and other non-technical individuals can configure front-end and basic functions themselves, such as creating their own interfaces, designs, and functions. Instead of explaining to developers what they want, they can show them. This eliminates the need to manually code everything. This speeds up development and improves the overall quality.

In essence, RAD platforms deliver on the promises made by the agile software movement over a decade ago. But instead of just integrating software development into the rest of the enterprise, they allow the rest of the company to be part of the software and application development. An important factor for a CIO’s strategic consideration is to change the entire organization over the long term to cross-functional, agile teams and to break up existing structural silos.

Agile method increases cooperation

Low code and RAD platforms make it easier for technical and non-technical team members to collaborate in real-time, shorten the development cycle, and reduce costs. This allows the QA tester to provide feedback, the developer to make the changes, and the changes to be tested in real-time instead of getting lost on the time-consuming process of identifying, documenting, prioritizing, fixing, and retesting bugs. Rapid application development platforms typically allow users and developers to view an application together and discuss the changes with each other in real time. This requires a rethinking of working methods, but if agile methods are consistently implemented, it leads to a considerable reduction in cycle times and wasted efforts. Experience shows that the return on investment (ROI) of agile approaches often shows after only a few months.

Conclusion

Agility is not a method that can simply be introduced into a company but needs to be understood as a cross-functional process. Using the right software helps bring visibility to all areas of the project and allows us to manage them accordingly. RAD platforms break down internal barriers and empower everyone at a company, from IT to business, to become involved in the entire software and application development lifecycle, thus ensuring a holistic development approach.

Key Takeaways

flexible icon

Companies that rely on low code have the greater organizational agility

Rapid Application Platforms reverse the traditional IT model

Agile method needs to be understood as a cross-functional process

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DevOps Culture

Agile or Die

About the Author 

Christoph Garms

Christoph Garms
Managing Director at Neptune Software Germany

For Christoph, the key to successful digital change lies in the right technical tools. His vision as Managing Director is to bridge the gap between business and IT and to move the DACH market towards a true digital transformation. With his cross-industry expertise, Christoph is certain that this is a question of digitalizing from process to process, creating a new work culture with agile methods and cross-functional teams. As a graduate software architect and with extensive background in pre-sales for Neptune Software, he knows the importance to supporting partners and customers from the first demo to implementation.

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