Implementing a new software solution is always a daunting prospect, but by adopting an agile approach to systems implementations, many concerns can be overcome.
Thoughts of weeks, or possibly even months of effort, creating a detailed specification of requirements, can fill even the best of us with dread, considering all the potential issues that may arise - What happens if we miss something? What if our needs change? What if the supplier doesn’t understand what we are asking for?
All of these questions, and many more, are considered during the process of trying to document requirements in an effort to get them 100% correct. However, as Heraclitus said, 'the only thing that is constant is change'. So, actually the odds of getting it 100% right are slim. Information will quickly become out of date, sometimes as early as the time you have finished writing the specification, let alone by the time the supplier has developed and then delivered it.
A number of valuable actions can be taken to help reduce the risk of this happening. One option being to include additional functionality, to try and future proof the system. However, this is based on assumptions that may, or may not occur in the future and therefore could cause unnecessary expense, and complications further down the line.
To help combat this issue, organisations are looking at adopting an agile approach to systems implementations. This methodology allows for requirements to change and be refined through the implementation process in defined sprints. It also provides users access to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) much earlier in the project lifecycle.
Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are the ideal implementation, as customers are provided with a fully-working, standard system immediately. Users are then able to refine the standard system to specific requirements through a series of changes, until they are satisfied they have created their MVP. As users have visibility of the system earlier in the process, they are also able to get a much clearer understanding of the final solution, as well as feedback into the requirements.
If the SaaS solution provides the ability for changes to be made on an ongoing basis, and not just as part of the initial setup, then this ensures it can be kept in line with requirements as they change.
The Huume solution is a good example of this approach, with customers being given a fully-working solution at the start of the project. It removes the need for, and costs associated with long drawn-out specification phases and allows customers to start using the simple administration tools to configure it to specific needs straight away. Items such as application forms can be quickly perfected through a series of short agile sprints.
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About the Author
Huume Ltd is the innovative IT Housing solutions provider, personalising Housing Needs for UK Housing Organisations. Read more posts from Huume.