Product development methodologies

I would like to start the discussion with statement, there is no “One size fits all” approach in product development.

Ideal example of traditional (waterfall) product development can be referred from automobile engineering where the V-model is extensively followed. It’ is basically a sequential process, where the next step cannot proceed unless the previous one is completed. Here the approach is highly disciplined, structured and the end goal is to build stable products.  

On the contrary if you are developing a website for an e-commerce company, traditional way of product development is sustainable. Since these kind of products are usually open ended where the requirements are not signed off.  Requirements are derived/modified/updated/deleted based on the feedback from customer. Agile methodologies is very appropriate for these products.  

Choosing the right methodology depends on the business requirements and end goals. There are benefits from just using the waterfall methodology, or adapting only agile methodology or profiting from the combining both the methodology. Having experience in both traditional and agile methodology for a long time, here are my thoughts on when to adapt which methodology.

Traditional methodology

  • Sequentially planned tasks
  • Clearly defined requirements  
  • No agile elements

Traditional + agile best practices   

  • Sequentially planned tasks
  • Clearly defined requirements  
  • Principles and best practices  embraced from agile – this is to increases the efficiency , quality and collaboration

Traditional + agile approaches

  • Sequentially planned tasks
  • Clearly defined requirements  
  • Agile methodology applied to one or more phase of development, example scrum applied during the development phase. This can be called as hybrid model where the traditional and agile methodologies are blended together.

Agile methodology

  • Implementation of task as per Agile principle – Iterative and Incremental approach
  • No agreed or final requirements – changes accepted and adapted
  • Focus on minimal viable product than final outcome
  • Agile principle implemented to fullest extent

Conclusion:   Traditional methodology of product development is effective for hardware products, where requirements are mostly fixed and further changes will lead to redesign the hardware. Hybrid products that include both software and hardware may require a blended methodology to coordinate design and delivery dependencies.


Categories: Management, Product

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