Agile product development enables design teams to prototype and fabricate ideas faster, leading to a higher potential for market success.
For the last two decades, the Agile manifesto has shaped the behaviors of development teams, ranging from software engineering to upper management and every cross-functional group in between. At its core, the Agile process encompasses a suite of best practices and philosophies for effective and iterative design, teamwork, and communication that teams can apply in various ways to bring products to life quicker and with higher quality.
In the world of physical product development, one mantra serves as the touchstone for nearly every Agile design decision: “fail often and early.” On the surface, it’s difficult to see how to leverage failure for success, but try focusing on the second half of the phrase — “often and early.” The sooner a team accepts that failure is simply a force to direct effort in the proper direction, the sooner and more frequently they can course correct. From a functional perspective, this translates into a fast, iterative design process with small increments and continuous testing.
The goal of an agile product development process is to explore as many design options as possible during the prototyping stage (while keeping budget and time constraints in mind). Design capacity is the term for the ability to cast a wide net on a myriad of ideas and qualify each one. So, in other words, the goal is to expand your design capacity.
Implementing agile product development principles
An important part of the agile product development process is frequent reviews, which ensure that the process moves quickly and effectively. By making small incremental iterations and responding to feedback, teams can reduce the probability of veering too far off course and explore a broader set of solutions and potential features.
The agile process is grounded in the premise that testing should take place across all functional teams. It should happen in a continuous fashion rather than at the end of the design cycle. In many ways, this mirrors the Agile iteration philosophy, where feedback from an incremental deliverable drives future changes. Similarly, by integrating testing into every aspect of the development process, teams can identify bugs as they arise. The tests themselves often help drive design improvements upfront.
Scrum is another Agile framework that’s well suited to physical product development. It leans on the premise that specifications are mutable and will inevitably change. The scrum process demands organizational fluidity centered on face-to-face communication and daily stand-up meetings. This forces all stakeholders to adapt their work to each other and the evolving needs of the product and customer.
Agility with Autodesk Fusion 360
Agile product development enables design teams to generate and test more potential ideas in the course of completing a project. By iterating more efficiently, you can explore a broader landscape of solutions, eliminate the bad ones, and focus on the best ones. Since agile development now has traction in the world of product design, a wide variety of tools and frameworks exist to aid in adopting the philosophy.
For example, a cloud-based CAD/CAM/CAE/PCB solution like Autodesk Fusion 360 enables teams to collaborate throughout the product development process. Seamless ollaboration from the get-go means teams can iterate faster and smarter — all while keeping track of their data in a central location. Using tools like Fusion 360, along with a thorough understanding of the core agile principles, companies can traverse the road to market success with confidence.