Agility in the Mobile World: Agile Development at the Speed of Mobile

Whether it’s “mobile at the speed of Agile” or “Agile at the speed of mobile,” there’s no denying mobile moves pretty fast. Mobile prototyping tools, development frameworks, and distribution stores make it possible to produce software in record times. In the hands of users, things get even faster. Mobile app analytics generally indicate a trend towards extremely brief usage sessions, forcing designers to capture the attention of users quickly, lest it drift elsewhere. Along with this concern, a high rate of app abandonment keeps product managers in a constant flurry of sprints, pivots, and releases just to keep the thing relevant. Mobile is a fast-paced game and you need the speed of agility to play.

From idea to device, the mobile application development lifecycle is one of the quickest in the software space. Thanks to rapid-prototyping tools, today’s designers and developers can instantly visualize their apps. With the help of mature and robust development frameworks, their visualizations become fully-fledged features overnight. Finally, ready-access to several distribution options allow these features to be in the hands of users in record time. Only a super-lightweight and unobtrusive process could further grease the mobile app development lifecycle tracks. Agile software development processes and techniques are just sufficient enough to organize a mobile application development team without slowing them down. Agile avoids the drag of time-consuming, wasteful activities not directly related to software-building. Documents, meetings, and other extraneous artifacts of the development process are kept to a minimum. After all, developers can only deploy apps to devices. More importantly, users only find value in software, not in the plans to build it.

Regardless of the app, maintaining a laser-focus on immediate user-benefit is paramount to a successful user experience. The user must instantly find value in the app’s features and functions in order for the experience to be sticky and the session to last more than a few seconds. There’s not a lot of time to capture the user’s attention. Too much clutter (with a lot of just-in-case, nice-to-haves, or rarely used features) and the user becomes discouraged and quickly bails. For this reason, a value-oriented app development approach is absolutely necessary. Product owners must determine which elements are most important to the user and deliver this benefit right away. Agile software development processes and techniques emphasize urgency and value, and for good reason. Development approaches focused more on hedging risks simply miss the mark.

In most cases, users do not favor apps for very long because there is always something new and different to discover. Mobile app abandonment is a real issue for many product managers. This fickleness keeps product managers and product owners busy. To extend a mobile app’s lifespan, product owners must react immediately to user feedback by delivering a continuous stream of updates along with frequent refreshes. User loyalty demands a level of responsiveness that can only be supported by extreme Agility. Anything else would lead to missed opportunities and a rapid depletion of the user-base.

Agile offers mobile developers a lightweight, value-focused, feedback-oriented approach to producing successful apps quickly. Further, agile is the only software development approach that won’t impede the speed and potential of mobile app development. Applying a more traditional software development approach to mobile development will inevitably lead to longer development cycles, missed opportunities, and moth-balled projects. Agile software development is fast—as fast as it needs to be to keep up with the pace of mobile.

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