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5 top strategies to make development cycles more efficient

Making development cycles more efficient is one of the principal concerns of every product owner. When creating software it's easy to over- or under-engineer, go over budget and over-schedule. There are so many moving parts and so many individuals participating in the development and production process that it's easy to lose your foothold and get in over your head.

There’s no one way to make sure that your software product doesn't become vaporware. Software development is fraught with all sorts of pitfalls. Adopting the principles of Agile software development is one way to combat these inevitable pitfalls.

Agile software development practices

The principles of Agile software development need to be used in conjunction with the problem-solving, critical thinking and synthesis skills of your specific team. Using Agile software development principles as a guide, you’ll be able to steer your team in the right direction.

One of the key principles of modern software development is to prioritize the delivery of working software. Progress is measured by the delivery of software rather than an arbitrary set of completed tasks or the refinement of software documentation.

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An attendee working on a laptop computer participates in the Yahoo! Inc. Mobile Developer Conference Hackathon in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. The Hackathon is an opportunity for mobile developers to come together and hack around the Yahoo! Inc. Mobile Developer Suite. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

This allows for software developers to respond to change rapidly because the software documentation itself is not held as a rigid standard but merely a guideline used to complete software projects. This leads to an environment of continual improvement. Development processes are in a constant cycle of preparing rudimentary software, improving upon it, and reassessing completed work.

Open communication, transparency, and trust

Teams hold meetings frequently, preferably on a daily basis. Distributed teams every worked the system. Video conferencing and weekly reports can be preferable as long as communication is constant.

Transparency and project visibility is important. Both are required for teams to learn, research and implement changes. Changes could only be responded to if everyone on the team, from development to administration, are on the same page.

Daily and weekly meetings are structured within larger time frames, sometimes referred to as sprints. These time frames define overarching goals. If implemented at regular intervals these time periods, or sprints, can be a great time to reframe, reassess, and retune the development process.

It is important in modern software development environments to keep a steady, methodical pace. Only through continual communication and review is this possible. The needs of the client, customer or user need to come before implementing tools.

Customer-first design and development

Often we fall in love with certain tools and processes within software development, but it is important to understand that these tools and processes are only as useful insofar as they help empower our clients, customers and users. Anything that hinders customer satisfaction must be cut out. Feature-rich software that fails to deliver satisfactory results for the client or customer is essentially useless.

Responding to change, even late in development, is preferable to ignoring a problem. Constant change is the state of efficient development cycles. The sooner you accept this, the more successful you will be.

This is why open communication, transparency and inspection are so important to the development cycle. To respond to change quickly and effectively, development teams need to be in conversation with the managers, business people and customers related to the software product.

Conclusion

Developing a software product is not a scientific process. It's a creative process that is imbued with all sorts of disciplines from computer science to design. Allowing self-organized teams with self-motivated individuals to thrive and work environment means that you must trust them to get their work done and make creating a software product an investigative, fun, and purposeful process.

Keeping as much visual as you can will also greatly alleviate the burden on your development team and your team managers. Making projects boards with task cards that are organized visually can help everyone sort out the progress of the project without wasting time in lengthy meetings meant to orient the team.

Project management tools like Trello are a good example of how visual project management is preferable to lengthy text-heavy emails or memos.

No one development team is exactly the same, and as such, who should adopt Agile software principles to your specific needs. Responding to change, being transparent, and trusting team members to do what they do best will ensure success. Imbue modern software development principles with your own philosophies for the best results.

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