At Zeevo our commitment is to deliver what we say we will deliver, on point and on time, and in doing so we always try to find the best method of providing products and outcomes for our clients. The Agile Software Development Method has become a common tool for speeding up delivery of fully-functioning software and updates to businesses and is a way of working Zeevo have utilised for many years.
Most tech businesses, and businesses with innovation as a strategic focus, have discovered the benefits of switching to Agile, or from adding a group of Agile developers to their existing IT teams – this approach is becoming more common globally, although recent research suggests that there is room for significantly more depth and breadth in actual deployment of Agile strategies across the full organisations. When Harvard Business Review printed a survey from CA Technologies of 1,300 surveyed IT and business leaders about their attitudes and practices, 75% said Agile can play a crucial role in ‘delivering the right products and services, accelerating decision-making and speed to market, while also improving the customer experience and staying ahead of the competition’; but only 44% of companies reported that Agile practices were widely used within development teams; and 41% said the same for IT operations.
What is Agile Development?
Briefly, the Agile approach seeks to break large development projects into smaller parts which can be developed and delivered fully functioning on shorter time scales than most other approaches.
Agile Development began from a philosophy first developed in the late nineties which favoured
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
In practice, this has led to a style of development described as ‘iterative, incremental, and evolutionary’ - Agile methods aim to break big development projects into small increments with the goal of reducing the need for up-front planning and design. A small team will work on all functions of their chosen increment, handling all aspects of its development from design to testing; and at the end of this iteration a working iteration is demonstrated to users. Each separate iteration may not necessarily be intended for release as a stand-alone product, but meets the goal of delivering functioning software at the end of each cycle – putting working products into the hands of clients more quickly and efficiently.
Our work with Ryman Healthcare
Alongside other New Zealand software development houses, Zeevo recently took on the exciting challenge of providing an Agile team to Ryman Healthcare that will enable them to deliver on their software requirements sooner.
Ryman Healthcare manage 32 rest homes across New Zealand and Australia, providing independent and serviced living, hospital, and dementia care. The company has grown from a single development on River Road in Christchurch into a publicly-listed company, employing 4,700 people, and generating revenues of $383M in 2018.
Founder Kevin Hickman, in his former job as a policeman, was once called to investigate a fire in a rest home. After witnessing the conditions which had led to the fire, he was inspired to provide the kind of care that families want for their elders – from its founding in 1983 to this day, Ryman’s ethos has been “Everything must be good enough for Mum – or Dad.” Ryman aims to take this approach through to the technology they use in their rest homes, and they are leading innovators in the field of elder care in terms of providing the digital means to manage individual health care.
MyRymanCare is a custom software application accessible on a tablet in every resident’s room, which provides nurses and care assistants with a wide range of care information at the bedside. The programme is a rich source of data, including changes in staff, patient histories, and family details, meaning for example that if a regular carer is absent, replacement staff are able to provide more personalised care through the use of the app .
The next set of features Ryman are adding to MyRymanCare include the ability for healthcare professionals and GPs to log in, enabling the automatic transfer of data between multiple medical systems in the community and in secondary healthcare by the end of the year. Their strategic goals include removing all paper-based processes, and ensuring the best healthcare outcomes for all their residents. In order to achieve such a wide range of new objectives Ryman needed to scale up their development quickly and we were able to support this by providing an agile team for them to leverage.
Using Agile at Different Scales
There are a number of ways to implement Agile strategies, depending on the size of your business and individual projects. In the case of MyRymanCare, Zeevo provides a team of Agile developers to focus on a single aspect of Ryman’s new development. The team of eight consists of a Senior Quality Assurance Manager, two Senior Developers, a Technical Lead, three Intermediate Developers, and one Business Analyst.
Having worked with the leaders of the other Agile teams to split the entire application into specific areas, Zeevo’s team took on one aspect of development, and are able to work remotely to develop this component through rapid prototyping, consulting frequently with Ryman and our other partners in the project to make sure that every team developed functions smoothly as part of the whole solution.
This approach can be applied at larger scales, too - multiple Agile teams can approach sizable developments, adding teams where needed, and forming teams-of-teams to facilitate collaboration on the big picture. Each team focuses primarily on the part of the project in which they specialise – for example software, hardware, and physical design – and all teams take part in regular meetings to identify points where more coordination is needed, or to share challenges which face all teams and look for solutions which will work across multiple teams.
We’re excited to be using this powerful strategy in our work with Ryman and our partners, and would encourage larger businesses in New Zealand to consider using Agile teams in various formations for their next major development project.
For more information about Zeevo and our approach to Agile development, or to book a free consultation contact us.