Let’s rethink the Software Development Ideation process
In the traditional waterfall approach of the Software Development Ideation process, this methodology has been put to the test – it is reliable, but can be a bit slow.
But what if we’re eager to roll out features more quickly? What if we’re open to the idea of learning from failure faster?
That’s where Agile methodology steps in, offering a way to deliver value more swiftly. One approach within Agile is to put extra focus on the brainstorming and ideation phase. By doing so, we can accelerate the journey from concept to reality, making the software development journey a bit more streamlined and efficient. Let’s explore that in more details.
Ideation phase – the ‘Pipeline Approach’
What exactly is the ideation phase? It’s a crucial step in software development where the blueprint for a new piece of software takes shape. Once that’s nailed down, the development stage kicks off.
Depending on the size or type of a company, the ideation phase itself can be sliced into multiple stages for a smoother process and improved scalability.
In my career, I’ve come across two main types of ideation approaches.
One of them is a more traditional split, where the business work on the new features, software, idea, or whatever it may be. After a rough document is produced, new stakeholders get involved – usually UI/UX and/or writers.
A successful design outcome triggers the development phase, where developers, QA, and designers collaborate to deliver value. Let’s call this the ‘Pipeline Approach’ because we can easily visualize it.
This approach has several advantages, such as easier scalability, multiple members working without being part of the core team, and the ability to work on new features in advance.
But, there is one significant drawback: each member involved in the ideation phase should have lot of domain knowledge. This is crucial not only to deliver the best value but also to avoid additional time losses during the development phase.
A new way is the ‘Graph Approach’
There is another possible solution that can make the Software Development Ideation process much easier – and quicker. Think of the ideation phase as the root that will define outcomes for different personas.
In this approach, the root would be a document that can be utilized in all other stages.
In order to define this document better, the idea is to gather all stakeholders (from business, UI/UX, development, QA, etc.) in the same place, whether in person or online. In this scenario, the domain knowledge of each stakeholder paints a broader picture and can lead to a more precise definition.
This process can take multiple meetings or even spans across several days. The result? A document (let’s call it ‘Wireframe document’), that can be used in next phase for each persona invidually.
Let’s call this strategy the ‘Graph Approach’.
How does this new approach work?
UI/UX teams will, for example, use the wireframe document to create proper design. The development team can already start working on architecture and background implementation, while the QA team can prepare a testing strategy, and so on.
Picture this: the UI/UX teams craft exceptional designs using this document as their muse, the development squad dives into architecture and background implementation, and the QA team preps a stellar testing strategy. It’s like orchestrating a symphony of creativity and efficiency!
Dedicating extra time at the start not only kickstarts the engine but allows multiple teams to work in parallel.
Yet, there are downsides – predicting time needed to invest in order to produce the best wireframe possible, seniority of each stacekolders is expect to be high.
Here, we’ve embarked on a journey through two distinct trails in the ideation phase, but the forest is thick with more unexplored paths. Care to share your experiences? Which approach has won the spotlight in your playbook?