The Missed Opportunity of Agile Software

I have been thinking about how experience with SaaS and agile management shape each other. With both, businesses can respond to customer needs more quickly and also improve their processes for the future.

The continuous improvements that come from an agile environment give business sustainability while at the same time providing real-time communication through new channels like social media platforms which help keep customers loyal by giving them what they want when they need it.

A Small Agile Software History

The origin of agile software development and marketing lies in the total quality methodologies that were developed by global manufacturers. At first, they focused on increasing productivity while maintaining high levels of quality. But as these companies continued to grow their businesses, they looked for ways to be more responsive to customer needs without sacrificing other goals.

The development of agile software and marketing has followed a similar path, but with some differences. Buggy software used to be the norm in the 90s- these were most often delayed or abandoned projects that required long hours and little sleep from programmers.

There was an uprising for what we call “agile principles,” which are successful ideas found in manufacturing jobs like efficiency, agility, etc., applied to computer programming. 

As marketers are now seen as an essential revenue driver, the pressure is on to produce high-quality results. This has led marketing organizations to face many of the same ills that software engineering used to; too much work and not enough time for proper execution with little understanding from other departments about what it takes to create a successful campaign.

The Forgotten Agile Software Customer

As agile software development continues to evolve and more companies adopt it, I am concerned about one thing. What happened to the customer?  Voices from consumers have been lost in an environment where a single ‘product owner’ represents them against CEOs or VPs.

When it comes to any agile software methodology, there are three ideas that matter.

  • Customer-driven products and real-time data
  • Increased productivity and quality by reducing wasted time
  • Continous, traceable improvement over the long haul.

Agile is all about the ability to stay up-to-date with what your customers want by being more reactive, which can give you a competitive advantage in fast-moving markets like SaaS. Agile isn’t just SCRUM or sprints – these are simply means towards an end goal for companies looking to grow their customer base.

Agile Software and the Customer Value Velocity

We use the word ‘value’ a lot in SaaS: lifetime customer value, average subscription value, total contract value. But we don’t often think about how this term is used by agile developers and testers—the business’s customers. The question that should be asked isn’t “What does it mean to us?” but rather “How do our users feel about what they’re getting from us?”.

Agile SaaS creates a continuous loop of customer feedback and product delivery that helps companies better understand their customers.

When it comes to agile, what matters is the customer’s opinion. Your SaaS business must have a continuous real-time flow of feedback from your customers indicating the value of your work in order for you to be considered an agile company.

On the other hand, you might be a customer-focused SaaS business with amazing innovations. But if your competitors can do it better and faster than you–especially when they have access to your customers as well as their own–then all of that innovation will only help them beat out yours.

The Agile Software Opportunity

Imagine the ability to track your customer’s thoughts and needs as they happen, by being able to survey them from inside of your product. Imagine having all that information accessible for every employee in a company so there is no misunderstanding or delay between departments.

Finally, imagine using agile methods such as frequent release cycles with feedback loops which would turn around ideas into tangible results much faster than traditional practices.

The Software as a Service industry is unique in that it offers the potential for automation of customer feedback and product delivery. Click To Tweet

This makes sense given its intimate long-term relationships with customers. No other sector has this capability or needs to take advantage of agile practices more than SaaS companies.

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