Skip to main content

Agile Product Development

By Nic Newman

Updated: May 3rd, 2023

Reviewed by: Simon Cast

Fact checked by: Kirsty Kearney Greig

What is agile product development?

Agile product development is a methodology that encourages product teams to focus on solving user problems in an iterative way, rather that the traditional waterfall methodology. The agile product development process involves the continuous use of feedback to meet emerging customer requirements and helps to ensure the eventual solution will meet the needs of the customer.

What should I consider before “going agile”?

Before getting into agile product development, it’s important to understand the agile manifesto. The main tenets of the manifesto are:

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

Essentially, the most important thing to do is solve the user’s problems, using methods that put the end-user or customer at the center of the process.

Often, it is unclear what the precise problem being solved is. It’s necessary to describe this before actually starting a project. This is the whole idea of “the art of doing”. The importance relies on defining clear requirements and setting goals for project teams.

A great way to get started would be by identifying metrics or measurable conditions that can provide insight into whether your desired outcome will be met; then gather feedback regularly from stakeholders to inform these metrics in some way based on experimentation with alternatives.
This process allows organizations to define these goals and objectives early in the development cycle and allow them to change within reason, making sure context takes over when things change outside of the scope for other work. One method of measuring success in this way is to use objectives and key results (OKRs).

How do I get started with agile product development?

Agile software development can be implemented in your organization quickly, efficiently, and with minimal risk. The key to success is getting everyone on the team involved – from designers and developers to managers – and ensuring there is buy-in from your senior leaders.

One great resource to understand how to start is this talk by Tom Loosemore at the 2019 MTPEngage conference in Manchester. In this talk, Tom describes how to start small, maybe with a project that’s not working out too well, and shows how agile processes can help to solve the problem being faced.

The agile method abides by a set of time-boxed iterations called “sprints.” These sprints usually last for 2–4 weeks each. That means there’s always a new goal within reach that gives you an opportunity to learn, make mistakes, improve, and deliver real value that takes just a few weeks or days instead of months or years as traditional approaches require.

Regular feedback sessions help maintain momentum by ensuring that the right things are prioritized at every stage in the process.”

Are there different kinds of agile product development?

There are a variety of development methodologies that make use of agile principles. The most commonly used of these are Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe. All of these methodologies rely on a product owner to define the highest priority work items for the team. Often, the product owner role is filled by a person with a product management title.

This video provides a great overview of how product ownership works in an agile team.