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APPs 20 Jan 2016

Agile Methodology. The revolution of the ways of working

The classic stories about small ideas born in garages that soon become technology giants have led companies of all sizes to think about the best way to innovate and develop new working methods. A startup is a young company that develops in an ecosystem of uncertainty and therefore needs to be able to make changes in its projects swiftly.

In 2001, the CEOs of the main software companies met at a ski resort in the mountains in Utah. There they shared the best practices of each company and created the Agile Manifesto.

It could be said that Agile is a set of methodologies for developing projects that require swiftness and flexibility to adapt to the changing conditions of the sector or market, leveraging those changes to provide a competitive edge.

What is the Agile methodology?

The main feature of the principles and values underlying agile methodologies is being able to make fast and continuous deliveries. In other words, the project is “cut up” into small pieces that need to be completed and delivered in a few weeks. In this way, if a change is needed, it is made only in the part involved and in a short period of time.

Before Agile, when a company wanted to develop new software, it could be a linear 2-year project that once completed did not include the latest technical developments or the specifications that at that time could have become essential for the end user. What could be done then? Either apply patches or start again.

Another feature of the Agile methodology is the use of multidisciplinary teams (or scrums) that work together side by side throughout the project. Thus, for example, the marketing manager can give feedback of how the final product is doing to the technician developing the code. In this way, and along with faster deliveries, the resulting product is exactly what the market is demanding.

Each scrum holds daily sessions in which each member explains three things: what tasks have been done, what remains pending and what difficulties (if any) have prevented progress from being made. At these meetings, all the team members know at what point each one is and in what areas they can collaborate so the rest can move ahead.

Agile was born more than 10 years ago, but it is a living methodology that has evolved and is capable of adapting to the needs at any given time. For this reason, although it was created by the software giants, the digitization of society makes it applicable to virtually any sector and any type of company. Despite the positive results, especially in software development projects, the Agile methodology is not a single entity in itself, but it needs to be supplemented with order, techniques and tools so the expected results can be achieved.

The Agile methodology: the BBVA case

In Spain, BBVA is using the Agile methodology as one of the tools driving its digital transformation. Different work groups (scrums) develop solutions that can be offered to the customers effectively, since every 3 months they present their progress and once the customer proposes possible improvements, the necessary changes are made in each case so the product is what the customer really demands.

Over 500 employees work directly using the scrum format in BBVA Spain today. This figure has increased fivefold over the last year. The goal is always to maximize performance and delivery to offer better services to customers, so the number of these teams is gradually increasing.

According to BBVA’s Héctor Borreguero, “It is surprising how the adoption of Agile is helping us set clear priorities, aligning the efforts of different areas -business and IT- with the corporation’s strategic goals both at local level and among the different geographic areas. Agile is enabling the work teams to manage their dependencies, focus on the project and provide value in a global and integrated way.

One of the most obvious examples of the effectiveness of using this working method is BBVA Wallet, where the Agile methodology was first used over a year ago with great results.

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