Agile methods, and agile training to teach and embed them, bring many benefits to businesses. Projects complete faster and at lower cost, with higher levels of customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Although Agile has strong associations with software development, it can benefit large or complex projects or product developments in any industry.
The origins of Agility – the software industry
Agile methods came to exist over 20 years ago as a new approach to software development. By their very nature, these projects are complex and can benefit from structure. Agile introduced an interactive, incremental approach to software development, replacing other methods such as waterfall development.
Agile remains well used in software development, and many developers will have experience with Agile methods and frameworks. Several Agile frameworks, such as DSDM and Extreme Programming, are especially suited to software development. Others, including Scrum, have particular adaptations available.
Agile in financial services
Agile methods soon moved beyond the software industry and into other industries. Today, financial services projects is a leading adopter of Agility.
Large financial institutions (including banks, insurance, and other companies) are continually involved in various large-scale projects. These include IT projects, development of better solutions for clients, compliance projects and internal business management projects. Such projects are well suited to Agile, and financial institutions tend to be keen adopters of new methodologies.
In addition, many of these projects are fast-paced and subject to change – again, well supported by Agile methods. Technology and customer demands shift fast, and requirements from regulators are often changing.
Agile in construction and engineering
Any industry with complex projects or products can benefit from Agile – construction, engineering, and technology companies have long realised this. Agile practices lead to frequent deliverables and demonstrable results. This engages end customers and stakeholders more and allows much simpler reworking of product requirements.
Clearly, in large product development or construction projects, getting results right is vital – and Agile helps with this. Agile also improves resource utilisation and team communication.
Agile in manufacturing
Agile has similar benefits in the manufacturing industry. Products large and small can benefit from prototyping and iterative development, and Scrum introduces this. Agile projects are also generally faster, helping get products to market quicker.
Agile has long been used in manufacturing. The Kanban framework, for example, has its origins in Japanese manufacturing processes. It was developed by engineers at Toyota to speed production and limit the building of excess inventory in production lines.
Agile in other sectors
Agile methods and frameworks are certainly not limited to these industries already discussed. Agile focuses on projects and teamwork, and most frameworks do not make any specific industry adaption. They will work for any large project in any industry. Agile regularly sees use in areas including pharmaceuticals, real estate, advertising and marketing, and public sector projects.
These all share several of the same project fundamentals and realise similar benefits. This is about business process management changes. Iterative development, faster product launches, and closer customer interaction have helped many companies. Advertising is an interesting example here. Many companies, small and large, use Agile techniques to produce results that are regularly reviewed and shared with end customers – driving much more effective results.