Agile – Have We Forgotten The User?

Product testing

We all know Agile as a rapid, adaptable and user centric approach. It helps companies build products that the customers actually like and do it in a smaller amount of time compared to the other methodologies. However, could it be that in the team-client circle we have somehow managed to actually forget the user and drive off path? Let’s find out!

Agile is built in a way that the project team gets reassured of their direction after each iteration. The project planning is done based on client preferences and each cycle ends with a review meeting for the clients to evaluate the work. Therefore the team has multiple triggers built in the system to keep them on track and delivering value.

On the other hand, with this circle in place it can become easy for both the team and the client to actually forget the end user and instead judge the success of the product only in their own merit. While staying on top of end user preferences should be included in each iteration, the reality is usually much different.

The product is planned, worked on and reviewed by two parties – the team and the client. The team takes direction from the client hoping that they know what the end user wants and the client leaves it the team to test their wishes with the actual users and deliver the best result. Therefore, too often in this self-reassuring circle the end users get forgotten. They are not included in the production process, nor into the reviews and often only remembered at the end of the process when testing out the completed product.

There is no need to prove to you that creating products this way is far from Agile and actually resembles Waterfall product development much more. So what should be done to avoid that?

Well the obvious answer is that the end users should be included into the production process. Whether it is the team that should make product testing with end users part of their iterations or the client that should test products with end users as part of the review process, is up for each team to decide on their own. The important thing is not to forget this crucial step all together in order to have a product that actually delivers value.

It is easy to get hung up in the team – client circle when practicing Agile, especially if you are just beginning. But you should always remember that the overall value lies not within a completed product or project, but the end user. So when planning your next sprint take a moment and make sure that these crucial stakeholders are actually included in your process.


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