Growing businesses need technology, but building technology can be risky, mysterious, and overly expensive.
Traditional building techniques have long lead times, high costs, and rigid outcomes that may not answer your needs. To build better systems for our clients, Practical Inventions employs agile development, which is more flexible, interactive, and leaner than the old ways. PI recently put our agile process to work for a local manufacturing client while building an application that generates sales leads and keeps their customers coming back.
PI’s agile development process prioritizes people and their goals over trendy technology or canned solutions.
We start by gathering the team, which includes all the people who have a stake in what’s being built. First, the team identifies the client’s “why,” a guidepost for all of the decisions to follow. Then we brainstorm on desired outcomes while prioritizing which are the most important. Defining what a system must do takes a team effort.
The stakeholders for this particular build included the client’s front-line marketers, business managers, and their technology team. The marketing team wanted insight into customers interests while providing a valuable tool. The managers wanted to understand the value to the company and assure a sound investment. The tech team wanted to trial run new technologies but maintain compatibility with their infrastructure. In this case, we built these requirements into a web application, combining a WordPress website with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Good systems are designed before building begins, because the sooner a change is made, the lesser the cost in the long run.
With the team’s requirements understood, PI outlined the system using mockups, diagrams, and stories. With the stakeholders in the same room, we reviewed the designs against the client’s goals. Then we tweaked and adjusted, cementing the foundations of the system. We left the room with everyone knowing what to expect when we would assemble again to review the actual system.
Good systems are developed using effective engineering, which is interactive, informative, and practical.
We built the system as an agile team. A task board showed the system being built step by step and provided a hub for team coordination. Practical Inventions provided the technical know-how, engineering experience, programming skills, and fast learning. The client’s web designer prototyped the UIs. The marketing team tracked down answers and reviewed each feature as it was completed.
We ran into snags along the way, especially with experimental AWS technologies. With each challenge, PI laid out the problem, possible workarounds, and effects to cost and schedule for the client’s team lead. The team was able to make healthy decisions and compromises without sacrificing the most important outcomes.
Good systems are only ready after being tested and reviewed.
Practical Inventions wrote and ran tests for each of the system’s key features. After repairs were complete, the team assembled to witness a demonstration of the system. With most of the stakeholders engaged throughout the building process, no one ran into major surprises in the working product. After a round of feedback and a few last tweaks, we fielded the system to the public.
In the end, good systems balance the constraints of the real world to deliver what people need.
Practical Inventions works with our clients to deliver on their unique goals. In this case, the client wanted to rapidly create a useful solution while jump starting their internal learning. The marketing team had their customer tool. The manager had a sound investment. The tech team had their prototype for new technology. PI got to apply some cutting-edge skills as we fulfilled our client’s needs. With the system in the field, the team got to learn from real experience and line up the next goals to accomplish.