Certain ways of working become the norm because they, at least on a certain level, are known to reliably yield usable results. An example of this is the waterfall method, which has been a classic choice for software development and project implementations in life sciences for decades.
However, in a rapidly changing business environment, choosing the quickest and most cost-effective ways of fulfilling your business objectives is more vital than ever. The same goes for being able to react and adapt, if you suddenly find yourself on the wrong course. And while the waterfall method may be reliable, it is also slow and cumbersome.
This is the main reason for the increasing popularity of the agile methodology; it values close collaboration and producing working software over rigid processes and comprehensive documentation. Simply put, agile cuts down the time-to-market, with the bonus of increasing the quality of the finished product because the business owners are deeply involved from Day 1.
By following the traditional waterfall steps of determining specifications, completing the paperwork before developing, coding or configuring the solution and then finally implementing, you are effectively creating a huge blue print for the entire project. This makes quick changes and decisions as well as adapting to new requests as they arise costly and difficult to manage. Being able to follow a plan to the end and create solutions to meet specifications certainly has merit – but why not adapt according to circumstances?
The agile process can be applied to any type of platform or technology and is independent of technology and business domains and thus works for both cloud and legacy systems. There is, however, certain benefits when working agile within a cloud-driven unified platform such as Veeva Vault. The shared backlog, which naturally follows the agile process, fits perfectly into unified platforms where several applications draw data from the same, shared dataset.
The cloud is also well adjusted, when it comes to working incrementally and in an iterative fashion. Instead of laying down a detailed plan for the final product, you gradually work on all aspects of the product, securing ongoing deliverables and not the fulfillment of a single deadline. This means considering the deliverables for compliance parallel to producing required documentation and letting the two evolve simultaneously and not as a linear process where the development and testing activities are subsequent to the specification activities.
Another way of ensuring the success of agile projects is to secure relevant input from relevant sources within your business in a timely manner and where this input adds the most value.
Working agile means working in for instance Scrum teams. Regardless of the chosen agile framework, the benefits are high when assigning team members from relevant business areas, who as individuals have the mandate to make decisions on behalf of the business and the project on the daily meetings conducted using Scrum or Kanban.
This means the decision-making process is a quick paced exercise instead of a long-drawn discussion between different areas of business. The increments ensure demos and early understanding of the requirements defined making use cases that are testable; misunderstandings, and insufficient details, are detected early on, which provides an overall lower cost compared to traditional waterfall development projects.
Working in an agile framework, the process of ongoing progress and increments ensures quicker decision-making and has the benefit of continuously testing and less complex testing of the deliverables.
One important consideration many companies have, is how to implement an agile way of working, when at the same time considering – or having already placed – your infrastructure needs and several services with either SaaS or cloud hosts.
In brief, the agile approach is applicable to more aspects of the business than the development stages of solutions. A leaner approach in deploying infrastructure services can be applied through automation and qualification of the deployment of these services, so the use of the cloud services adheres to regulatory requirements. This means some of the focus is moved from qualifying stand-alone systems to working leaner through the entire service stacks. Not least, when the need to develop services and infrastructure is placed with cloud vendors, your business can focus purely on configuration, functionality and adding value to the business using SaaS solutions.
Interested in learning how transitioning to a more agile way of working within a cloud-driven, unified platform can benefit your business? Read more about Veeva Vault and how NNIT Veeva Powerhouse can support your business’ transition.