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Agile involvement of future users

Decades ago, a new software tool development started with the detailed problem description. It was followed by an extensive system specification, often including hundreds of pages. This procedure has major disadvantages. Not preparing for changing requirements due to an ever changing environment is one example. Thus, it should not be used for large jobs any more. With these new insights agile development methods (eg. Kanbas and Scrum) have been introduced some years ago. To avoid a costly mistake for yourself and the client, an important part of the software development is to regulary check back with the client. Additionally, involving future users too brings lots of advantages. However, to use an agile method successfully it is necessary to apply it before (and after) the development phase as well. But how?

Agile involvement of future users

As soon as an idea is born and the market’s needs have been checked, look for interested clients and potential future users wanting to participate. This brings their enormous business knowledge into the project. Thus, potential future users get a customized solution for a lower than an individual development price. But more important you get all the requirements and needs at first hand.

Agile Involvement of future users

Collaboration with future users

At run-e we wanted to publish software descriptions, mockups, ideas and progress as easily as writing a document in Word or Confluence. Furthermore, the many agilely involved users should be able to comment and discuss different features and favouring solutions easily.

Finally we decided for a simple to use collaboration platform (Samepage.io) over a heavy weight WIKI tool. Additionally, by anonymising the user accounts, we set up a platform which is used in the same way by all invited users although they are competitors in real world (and hardly would make their opinions public). A big plus we learnt.

Each single step in the development, starting with the purpose of the software, sharing usability and screen ideas to publishing prototypes and test releases was documented. This gave all involved users the opportunity to compare their needs against the market as well as to comment and discuss.

In the end the agile involvement of clients and future users has helped understanding and standardizing the requirements and special needs but also to control and adjust the development and project progress.

How we put agile involment of future users in place, see in this video documentary.

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