Saturday, September 30, 2023

What does the 1st Agile Principle (Satisfying Customer with Valuable Software) look like in Action?

Many want to go Agile or claim to be Agile. The question is, are you and will you really align with the Agile values and principles?  To better understand what this means, I dissected the Principles to better discover the intentions behind them and what behaviors they entail. In this article, I expand on the first Principle and attempt to model how to marshal supporting evidence that a culture change may be occurring.  

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software is the first Agile principle.  Satisfying the customer means delivering valuable software in a timely manner (that is, in the market window) for a reasonable cost. Continually striving to meet elusive customer value is important. Ultimately, the key measure of value for customers is an increase in sales and the continued loyalty of existing customers. 

How do you know that you are moving in the right direction of building value? It starts with understanding your customers: who they are and what motivates them. Their profiles include such information as their challenges, their vision for your product, and their buying trends. 

Delivering value continues with an effective sprint review process where the customer gains an opportunity to review and provide feedback on working software. If customers can sense that their input is valued during the demos, their satisfaction can increase. This is particularly true if the customers see that their feedback from the last demo has been incorporated in the working software of the current version. 

In addition, it is beneficial to use the Business Owner/Product Owner (PO) as the delegated voice of the customer to solicit acceptance criteria on what the customer would expect when they see a particular requirement or feature in action. You may also conduct periodic customer surveys to gauge their level of satisfaction with the product or solution. 

What actions exhibit “satisfying customer with valuable software”? 

  • The PO works to understand customer value, constantly prioritizes and refines the backlog, and discusses customer needs with the team. 
  • The PO creates customer profiles to recognize motivations. 
  • The backlog is your single source of requirements (aka, value). 
  • The Customer vision reflects how you wish to engage your customers. 
  • Business Strategy focuses on delighting the customer. 
  • Customers are an integral part of Reviews to provide feedback and validate value. 
  • Acceptance criteria are been captured and met for each user story. 
  • Customer satisfaction surveys are periodically conducted. 
  • Customer revenue metrics are captured and reviewed.  

It is up to you to determine what supporting evidence will highlight that a culture change is occurring. It is worth experimenting with as it will help you better understand and embrace the Agile principles. The final question, if you really believe in this principle, do you believe in continuous customer engagement, adapting requirements, and validation as a means of building valuable software to satisfy the customer? 


Learn more about what other Agile Principles look like in action: