“Agile describes an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through a collaborative effort. It advocates evolutionary development, early delivery, and continual improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.”

Wow, that was a mouthful. Let’s break it down and discuss why the pivot to Agile software development is important to your Legal Ops practice.

Agile was born out of the need to deliver software more quickly, especially in the age of web development. It favors smaller iterative changes that can be delivered more quickly, typically in 2 – 4 week cycles called sprints. This stands in stark contrast to the former methodology – what was known as waterfall development – which could span months or years from idea conception to product delivery. The advantage to you is that your software is continually evolving and can be significantly more responsive to your feedback and the ever-changing market.

Here are the top 5 reasons you need your vendor to be Agile.

  1. You get your features faster. Agile advocates the use of small increments of work which are broken down into 2 – 4 week long work cycles called “sprints.” At the end of each sprint, you have a potentially shippable product/feature. David Garcia, Product Owner at Acuity, says “before we moved to agile, it could take us several months to deliver a software change requested by a customer. We’d take weeks to nail down the specs, and then, only after months of development and full QA, would the client see the requested feature in play. We’d cross our fingers that it was what they wanted. Now it is simply a matter of weeks from change request sign off to delivery.”
  2. Improvements are perpetual, and your feedback can have a bigger impact. Given the iterative nature of Agile development, feedback is continually solicited and fed into the process. This way improvements can be incorporated with each new release; each release doesn’t necessarily aim to roll out a large new feature or product, but rather incremental changes that build over time and are influenced by the continual feedback. And for large projects, this enables us to get immediate feedback in interim UATs, so that by the end, we were not faced with having built a feature or improvement which is missing a significant requirement due to misinterpreted specs.
  3. Your vendor can adapt to technological changes more rapidly. The pace of technological change is staggering. New concepts, security concerns, and breakthroughs are coming fast and furious. With Agile, since your vendor is already incorporating change on a continual basis, you can respond to these new changes and start leveraging them in releases as soon as they become viable.
  4. Better predictability on your vendor’s near-term roadmap. Using the 2 – 4-week sprint cycle with potentially shippable product/features at the end of each sprint allows your vendor to better predict when features will be released. Often with long development cycles typically associated with waterfall development, features would have to be revised to meet deadlines. Or worse yet: your vendor would have to go back to the drawing board to start all over if a significant spec was missed. This isn’t so with Agile.
  5. Higher quality software since tools like QA automation is prevalent with this kind of methodology. Naturally, with more releases at a faster pace, you might well be concerned about the potential for more software defects. However, by breaking down the projects into smaller increments, issues are easier to spot and the team can focus on delivering high quality. Tools like QA automation and continuous integrations help maintain quality standards and lend themselves to agile methodology. Make sure your vendor is using them.

If you’re vetting a new vendor, make sure you ask about their development methods: ensure they’re using Agile and leading QA automation tools. To learn more about our product, Acuity ELM, request a demo.