To maintain a competitive edge, businesses need to quickly adapt to market fluctuations and changing client needs. Agile business development takes the lessons learned from agile software development and applies it to the development of new business products and relationships. Adaptability lies at the heart of all agile methods and processes, fed by a shared wisdom that grows over time.
What Does Agile Business Development Look Like?
Agile business development is built on an idea that can quickly be transformed into a business asset. The idea itself may come from the customer, or it may be from within the business unit itself. Either way, a Minimum Viable Product is developed and delivered to the customer, followed by incremental improvements that integrate the functionality and features the client needs. This process is fundamentally different from traditional business development where ideas were developed into finished products, usually over a much longer time frame and without constant iteration from the client. Products made this way were difficult to change if the customer's needs changed, leading to customer frustration with the product or service and its creators.
When products are developed with an agile process, business ideas are turned into high-quality business assets that are quickly deployed to the customer. Fast turnaround and high quality drive customer satisfaction which leads to new opportunities to do business with that customer and other potential clients.
How Does an Organization Use Agile Methods for Business Development?
In essence, business development is about creating additional value for companies through valuable partnerships with customers and turning ideas into business assets that provide long-term value for the customer and the provider. These assets provide value to the customer by delivering something they need. These same assets also provide value to the business, laying the groundwork for new opportunities with the customer and internally. A high level of end-to-end collaboration and communication are what drive the agile process from idea to deliverable product and beyond.
What Are the Benefits of Agile Business Development?
Business units that adopt an agile business development model experience multiple benefits, including:
- Fast turnaround times on development
- Quick, incremental delivery to customers
- Much lower development costs for products and services when compared to traditional development
- High-quality initial products
- High customer satisfaction
- Genuine value for the customer
- Flexible process that allows quick adaptation to market fluctuations and changing customer needs
- Competitive advantage over companies that still take a traditional approach to business development
The agile approach is key to reaping these benefits, but it's no guarantee. Making the right choices early in the process is critically important to ensuring that the product you deliver is the product the customer needs.
Agile solutions have been a crucial development strategy for software engineering and it has provided a successful way of ensuring everyone is involved in the creation of the product.
"As software is released incrementally over several iterations, it's critical to choose the right mix of features that are both high-value and immediately useful. In theory, product owners, business stakeholders, and/or end-users should be able to make the correct decisions about the features that will deliver the most value in the next release."
-- Steven Gara, Techno Functional Sr. Business and Process Analyst, SGBIZSERVICES, LLC
Moving into design before adequate testing of early decisions can easily send the development team down the wrong path, creating a product that may require difficult changes later on. The agile development process is built for speed, but rushing into design and development without adequate preparation will only slow down product delivery.
Agile Business Development Drives Innovation
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the agile methodology lies in its ability to position your business as an innovator. When you deliver an initial product to a customer, you open a doorway through which you get to know your customer's business needs. That knowledge allows you to not only build the apps your customer requests, but puts you in a position to anticipate customer needs, innovating instead of just fulfilling orders. The ability to innovate gives you a strong competitive advantage.
As you use agile methods to develop business assets, you will discover patterns that emerge from solving similar problems. These patterns can be applied in an infinite number of ways to solve the same problems that crop up when developing business solutions for customers.Why Agile Business Development is So Important
As the Digital Transformation marches forward, agile methodologies are finding new applications in diverse areas that include manufacturing and marketing. The Agile manifesto contains within it the seeds of customer-centric, highly collaborative teams with a focus on consistent delivery of high-quality business solutions. At the end of the day, what the agile methodologies teach us is how to work together in ways we couldn't have imagined to produce products that exceed our customer's expectations.
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