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The Power of Thorough Planning in Agile

The Power of Thorough Planning in Agile

Recently, I had the opportunity to work on a requirements and design project for a new, robust mobile application. The mobile app’s scope included several complicated features, and its user experience needed to provide a best-in-class experience for busy health care professionals across a wide variety of devices and screen sizes. The mobile app would be underpinned by an API used in my client’s existing web applications. Further, the mobile app would be integrating brand new features my client had only just released in their web application.

Fast forward to today: I am now working on the project to build this new mobile app. We are using the outputs of the requirements and design project, building our backlog with the user stories that define the app’s functionality and acceptance criteria. The opportunity to have gone deep into the understanding of the mobile app, in the earlier requirements and design project, allows my engineering team to have more thorough planning and deeper understanding of the project’s timelines at the onset of the development timeframe. This is an advantage many Agile teams lack.

We have also been able to evaluate the existing API for any gaps early in the project. This has enabled us to work with other teams, for whom we are dependent, to either reduce the gaps or evaluate the priority of impacted areas for our MVP product. We are doing all of this significantly earlier than a traditional Agile team would be able to do - all thanks to the investment in upfront requirements and design.

As a consultant, this opportunity has given me the time and space to learn and understand my customer’s needs at a deeper level. This allows me to confidently answer many questions and look at the app’s features with a more critical eye. Our stories are approximately 90% +/- valid from their initial state; an incredible success measure! Most changes we are experiencing have originated from items that are outside of my engineering team’s control or from our stakeholders simply having a second look with a deeper understanding. 

We are an Agile team, working through the prioritized backlog, with the ability to be nimble and adapt to changes as they arise. Uniquely, since we took the opportunity to initially dig in and understand the problem space, and rapidly prototype the future mobile app, we are now better able to understand the areas we anticipate will be complex, which allows us to better manage our risk. 

- Jennifer Jones

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