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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   October 2013

Get Agile With Today’s Technology

Learn how to implement solutions quicker and with better results

With ever-changing regulations and fluctuating market trends, keeping up with today’s mortgage marketplace is more difficult than ever. As new technology solutions come on board — along with demands to implement them quickly and cheaply — should you reevaluate the methods that help you accomplish your goals? Now may be the ideal time to consider adopting agile methods to achieve your objectives.

Whether your technology needs to enhance your marketing efforts through social media, satisfy regulatory requirements, build loan-origination software functionality or something entirely different, agile is a software-development methodology that should not be overlooked. Moreover, the principles that the agile movement was founded on are worthy of adopting as an organization.

What is agile?

Wikipedia defines agile software  development as “a group of software- development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.” But what does that mean?

Agile promotes timely delivery of functionality to the market, which means you no longer have to wait months to see results. Satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software is the highest priority. Customers receive working software often in as short as a few weeks. This means that the customer gets speed-to-market and benefits early on. The highest value items are worked on first, meaning the customer has useful software quickly.

"Satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software is the highest priority."

Agile momentum is gaining: According to VersionOne Inc.’s 2012 survey, 84 percent of companies were practicing agile development, and 48 percent of businesses adopted agile practices across five teams or more. The top reasons for adopting agile were to accelerate time to market, more easily manage changing priorities and better align information technology (IT) and business objectives.

Why agile?

Whereas traditional software- development methods tightly control scope and lock down features early on in the process, agile welcomes changing requirements, even late in development. Agile harnesses change for the customer’s competitive advantage to ensure the right product is produced. Agile advocates continual reprioritization as part of the planning process, which means stakeholders can adjust priorities over time and as needed.

Because incremental releases allow stakeholders visibility into the product throughout its development, it’s easier to identify issues and to adjust where needed. This reduces risk and contains cost, as rework is reduced and issues are usually cheaper to fix earlier in the process. With frequent demonstrations of the product, it’s possible to see results without waiting until the end when it’s often too late to react. By having stakeholders involved in the project, customer needs are represented better — which produces a better product.

Agile applicability

According to the Agile Manifesto, agile values “individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.” Whether building software or running a business, these values are ones to emulate.

Before you move ahead with agile development, however, it’s important to implement agile appropriately. Senior management support and a company culture that complements agile methods are key to any project’s success. Stakeholders must be willing to accept change, and take ownership and accountability of decisions. If you can address these core needs, regardless of whether you are in IT or on the business side, adopting agile methods may help your company respond quicker and faster to today’s changing mortgage market.  


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