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Is it cheaper or more expensive to work agile?

6B is proud to apply agile thinking to everything we do.

It gives our employees more freedom to express ideas and to work productively. We focus on the most important parts of your development and prune away exercises that won’t deliver on your goals.

But there is a train of thought that says agile is a more expensive way of working than the traditional waterfall method.

That’s why we’ve explored the financial aspects of agile working for you, and explored why, actually, it can save you money in the long run.

What is agile?

So here’s a quick reminder about what agile is.

Agile working brings development teams closer to their customers, and end users – it aims to find the most effective way of using people, processes and technology to deliver your project.

According to The Agile Manifesto, development should be about:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

We always use the scrum method of working agile as opposed to Scrumban, Kanban, DAD and Crystal.

Scrum follows a set of roles, responsibilities and time boxed events, where we can see regular progress and receive regular stakeholder feedback. The Scrum framework empowers our teams to work together through a shared commitment to the work.

We break projects down into stages (or “sprints”) to build, test and amend before moving onto the next high priority set of work.

The development alternative is the more traditional waterfall methodology – a linear approach where everything is built in one go, and feedback is sought just before the product has been released.

You can probably guess the problem here – this way of working simply doesn’t give software projects the right degree of flexibility. There isn’t the scope to adapt with change, such as stakeholder feedback, or changes in the market.

Theories about costs

One of the myths of agile is that it’s a ‘blank cheque’; agile teams are free to do what they want, whenever they want, with no control over project scope, spend and outcomes.

This couldn’t be further from the truth with 6B.

Up front, it’s easy for us to provide estimates for big chunks of work, highlighting where there are unknowns or complexity. This informs us where Discovery is needed.

Through the Discovery phase, we map out initial user stories and remove the unknowns, mapping the budget out in more clarity against the features and setting the correct priorities to your work. We can factor in change mid-project, such as legislation changes or a change in business direction, which is much harder to do with the more traditional waterfall method.

Agile works well within your budget. As we progress through the features using sprints, we can track how much time has been spent on a feature against its estimate and focus on delivering the high priority elements of this feature.

This often leads to stakeholder feedback to either build on what we have delivered, remove a less important piece of work or focus effort on the more important pieces of work. This is better than finishing a completed version of your product, and then going back and changing everything.

Why agile benefits you financially

According to The Money Pit report by Standish, agile projects were found to be four times cheaper than an equivalent waterfall project and delivered higher user satisfaction.

So why does agile provide better value for money?

Let’s start with your first project sprint – this is where we cover the most important elements you need for your highest priority feature. We’ll show you the result, and then have further sprints focused on adding more features, working out bugs, or even taking the software in a different direction if market conditions have changed.

This method of working means that the most valuable parts of the project are developed first, making it quicker to develop an MVP.

6B’s Head of Delivery Marie Leverton described that, compared with the waterfall methodology of building everything in one go and making changes at the end, the money-saving capabilities of agile can be enormous.

“We understand the problem and the challenges faced at the very beginning of a project,” she said.

“We also appreciate that how a website or app looks at the end may be different to how it was originally envisaged as users and stakeholders are able to tangibly use the product.

“That’s because the business value and user experience is at the heart of what we do, and we can respond effectively to changing needs and feedback, working with you to stay true to the product vision.”

For instance, a contact form may be too complex, so we might look to simplify it to improve the user journey. Waterfall methodology would have us build a project in its entirety before changing a contact form. That means more change may be required at the end of a project, which can cost time and money.

Change at the end of a project invariably means that other elements may need updates too. It’s much cheaper to amend things earlier when there are far less interconnections to worry about.

Marie gives the example of a house: “If you want a door to change at the end of a project, you have to change the wall and floor around it. If the change is identified earlier, less work needs to be done.”

Agile development can also deliver a reduction in development time, because the product releases focus on what is truly needed. Lower priority items can be let go and the client can end up with what they truly need. Reduced development time means less money has to be spent.

Our team makes agile work for you

In conclusion, is agile more expensive? If you have a team that doesn’t plan your project properly, then it can be.

But you don’t need to worry about that if you work with a skilled technical partner.

An experienced team (like ours) goes through a meticulous Discovery phase and works in sprints on every iteration of your project. Through regular releases of software, you can measure performance and priorities, which we can adjust accordingly.

We also carry out retrospective reflections on top of this, throughout the product development.

Regularly measuring the progression of your product means we can put the budget towards the most important part of your website or app. This is where your organisation will save money and benefit from an industry-disrupting product.

Are you looking for agile software developers who can get your product to market quickly and affordably?

6B has used agile ways of working for hundreds of projects.

To tap into our expertise, contact us today and we’d be happy to help.

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