The stakes have never been higher for your business to adapt and evolve. But how do you accelerate and scale your transformation cost-effectively? The answer – optimized global delivery. Follow this series and learn more about our nearshore software development capabilities from several members of our global consulting team in Colombia.
In just over 20 years, Agile methodologies have secured its footing in developing software and digital products. Forty-two percent of businesses state that three-quarters of their development teams use Agile practices, according to Forrester.
Agile adoption tends to be higher among software development and IT. This year’s State of Agile Report reveals that 82 percent of companies do not use Agile practices across their organizations.
Regardless of your business size, there’s an opportunity to expand Agile beyond software and product development. Getting there is easier said than done.
“Agile is simple to explain, simple to understand, and yet immensely complex to implement,” said Lía Sánchez, head of product development at Perficient Latin America. Lía also serves as an Agile coach, helping our nearshore delivery colleagues understand and implement Agile practices with our clients.
In a recent conversation, she provided insight about our outstanding reputation with Agile as a nearshore development partner. She also revealed how Agile has helped build trust with our nearshore clients for many years and how it’s eased some uncertainty during a disruptive year.
The Agile Manifesto emerged more than 20 years ago. With broad adoption of the approach, how many of our clients have already implemented Agile?
Lía: Agile is everywhere. It’s trendy and has become a buzzword. There are pros and cons to Agile, and one of the cons is that it’s not easy. But that’s the reality of our world.
Many companies see great results with Agile, and other companies still using traditional methodologies want [to pursue] it. These businesses think they will miss an opportunity and ultimately go out of business if they don’t adopt it.
However, Agile transformations are immensely complex. The biggest barrier is changing the mindset and the cultural elements [of a company]. The mindset has to permeate with individual employees and broader processes of how a company works.
Faster business value is among the top benefits realized by 64 percent of expert Agile firms. These firms also realize greater frequency of releases and more opportunities for midcourse correction. (Forrester)
Most of our clients aren’t truly doing Agile, but they come to us for help. Why? This type of transformation is not easy. Moving away from traditional methodologies and adopting Agile significantly impacts a company. This change may even touch on a company’s founding principles.
When a client approaches our team and says, “We work with Agile, and we’re choosing you to help us improve because you understand how to work with Agile.”
The reality is that clients often have a long way to go but that’s why we’re here. This scenario is actually positive because as their nearshore development partner, we build the solution together.
How do we help clients with Agile transformation?
Lía: The best way to help our clients is by showing results and gaining trust. In any relationship, you can have a lot of experience and demonstrate a lot of knowledge – and that may be enough for clients to choose you. Beyond that, the best way to help them understand new and innovative methods of working is to show how it will work specifically for them.
One of the most important things to keep in be mind is this – there’s no silver bullet in Agile.
Agile is based on the adaptability to change and the reality of different scenarios, so you can do what’s right in that situation. That’s why we get to know our clients, understand their needs, and start showing results.
For example, we started with a small team at one of our clients in marketing technology. With that one team, we first played by their “rules” to understand how they worked. By having that understanding, which also allowed our client to feel heard, we could begin incorporating change.
Over time, we built trust and then knew how to best incorporate Agile and more innovative methods for creating and developing products. Without understanding the “why,” you’re not going to find a good answer for clients – something that will fit their specific reality.
Which examples come to mind as far as building and maintaining clients’ trust?
Lía: With the client I previously mentioned, we saw the potential to grow. We observed a waterfall approach inserted in its named Agile implementation. It was a great first step, but they had some ways to go.
On that initial project, we showed them little by little how we could do things differently. Not only did it click, but the team realized how well it was working and wanted to continue it. The client started expanding these improvements to other teams within the company and applying them to projects with other vendors.
That was the first step. We showed results, and the client was comfortable with the process. The team trusted the process because they saw it worked. We now have several teams working on more projects with them today, which stemmed from one small project several years ago.
In my time at [Perficient Latin America], most clients I’ve worked with have come to us because of our highly-regarded reputation. From my experience, I can tell you that most of our clients recognize how we’ve helped others succeed in adopting and working with Agile methodologies and principles.
What’s the secret to success with Agile?
Lía: Agile transformation is a lengthy process and that’s something no one wants to hear. You have to do it slowly but fast. By that I mean, your business must go at its own pace because there are elements you must question. Part of becoming Agile is questioning how it [your business] works and the way you’re conceiving products and services.
For example, Agile doesn’t mean that there’s no planning involved. You still have to plan budgets and forecasts. Planning remains an important aspect, but adopting an Agile framework means that your business can adapt to changing that plan.
To be successful, we must work together with our clients. Our goal is to be a partner in technology and innovation by working through an iterative process that’s reviewed daily. And our clients must get involved. Otherwise, it’s not going to work.
Sometimes I’ve heard clients say, “I don’t have the time to work closely with a team to develop a technology solution.” As they start getting involved, they see the benefits of doing so, and they love being part of it.
Being involved is important to the transformation because it goes faster. It’s also more effective and productive. As a result, the clients understand their role in the process, which is part of our job to ensure a successful partnership.
How has our Agile reputation supported building trust with our clients?
Lía: When we talk about building and maintaining trust with clients, it’s because they collaborate with us. They might define an initial way to work, but we build on top of it together.
We commonly describe a good software development vendor as one that is reliable, transparent, and will deliver on what they say they will do. That’s great, but you’re only halfway there. The next level is collaborating with our clients to help grow their businesses.
A client can tell us what they want, and we can be reliable in our delivery. However, if I go beyond that and sit with you to brainstorm and understand your business needs, then we can evolve in a way that’s mutually beneficial. Now we’re your technology partner.
We can be partners to support our clients’ success [by taking advantage of] our experience in technology. And that’s what we strive to do. With that North Star, it’s easier for us to keep on growing and improving their businesses.
Because Agile is a top priority for our clients, how does our approach stand out from other vendors?
Lía: There are infinite ways to implement Agile, and as a company, we understand that. We want to build frameworks with our clients that suit their needs and add value.
We want to be partners, not just great executors as a [nearshore software developer]. This is only possible through extensive, fluid communication and collaboration. And nearshore makes a difference regarding this point.
Whether we’re working with clients in the US, Europe, Latin America, or other regions, seamless communication and collaboration is the goal.
For example, one of our clients, who has worked with Perficient for around ten years, recently said to me, “You could be here in Chicago or Seattle or another part of the world, and I feel that we are a team. We’re building together, collaborating, and talking all the time.”
This individual has worked with Perficient’s global delivery teams for many years and has had great experiences. When our clients see that level of collaboration, we take advantage of it. It drives us to build great relationships with them and other onshore team members to deliver that level of collaboration.
With everyone working from home during COVID-19, nearshore became transparent as far as team distribution. You could be next door, in another state, or in Colombia. With a minimal time zone difference and our cultural proximity, it removes an invisible wall that separated onshore and nearshore development.
How have our Agile software development practices helped clients during a disruptive year?
Lía: We’ve been able to use Agile to its fullest potential with regard to being adaptive. Because we understand our clients’ priorities and business values, we have a framework in place to support that change.
Those first months were difficult for any business in terms of the uncertainty they felt. It prompted questions such as, “Are my sales going to drop? Are there other products that I should design? Should I stop my projects? Do I need to stop hiring or start hiring? Should I close my offices for a month or forever?”
This uncertainty affected all our clients. But we were able to work with them and immediately adapted plans one by one. We realized industries felt the impacts of COVID differently. Our healthcare clients were bombarded and forced to react to the new reality. Meanwhile, our retail clients were concerned about customers not coming into their stores.
We worked with each of our clients and our great teams, which know the whys and the business drivers. Every team member knows why and what they are building as well as how the projects benefit our clients.
Our ability to adapt – and not just react – allows us to find our footing faster in disruptive circumstances. Then as a nearshore development partner, we can extend that sure footedness to our clients. They rely on our Agile mindset and ability to work with constant change swiftly and seamlessly. Any technology partner or vendor – whether they are onshore, offshore, or nearshore – that lacks the ability to adapt will fall behind.
The adaptiveness rooted in Agile principles allowed us to support our clients through a disruptive time. It’s also what allowed our company to adapt better through these disruptive times.
Our nearshore delivery team has proven experience working with US-based clients on complex, cloud-native product development. Learn more about outsourcing software development and finding the right fit with a nearshore development partner.