I've had the privilege of working with Agile in just about every environment imaginable. I've worked Agile with legacy teams, hardware teams, waterfall development teams, and even marketing teams.
Point blank: Agile works.
Running Agile forces your team to learn the incredibly important art of prioritization. You must prioritize your backlog, maintain a grip on your costs, and understand when to release. I've read plenty of the naysayers articles, and after 250+ product workshops, $2.5MM+ raised in crowdfunding, and digitizing a legend like Tony Robbins in just 13 weeks, I'm here to tell you that whatever the controversy, Agile works and is here to stay.
A Brief Introduction to Agile
The fastest way to introduce teams to Agile is through Scrum. While there are many ways to implement the Agile workflow, Scrum is one of the most flexible and easiest to learn. There are three components to Scrum: the team, scrum master, and product owner. Scrum is designed to promote short development cycles for fast feedback and even faster iteration. Implementing the Agile framework constantly protects you from building a product that nobody wants. By working in quick sprints, you can validate even the smallest build of your product to make sure you're on the right track with your users.
The product owner is generally the one that manages the vision of the overall project. It's an important role that has a massive effect on the transition from idea to product. As a product owner, it's your responsibility to truly understand your users and create a backlog of features that they will actually use. Agile makes it easy to cater to the needs of your users, and it's important to use this to your advantage. In mobile app development, being quick is everything. Test with your users, discuss at your weekly sprint planning meeting, and you'll end up implementing features people actually want that much faster.
To Err is Human
But the power of Agile isn't just that it lets you validate quickly. The real advantage is that using an Agile framework lets you absorb mistakes.
Most new product owners go into Agile development expecting to never make a mistake. They believe every MVP will be perfect with all of their features implemented and deadlines met. Wrong. Regardless of how efficient Agile methodology is, it's impossible to get it right every time.
Every product owner will fail at some point. It may not be in the product's lifecycle, but it's bound to happen in a sprint at a certain point in time. Maybe he or she wanted to implement a feature that nobody truly validated and it wound up becoming a complete waste.
No one is perfect, and truthfully, mistakes are the fastest way to learn. And here's the real beauty of Agile: your mistake only counts for one sprint instead of a full 20 weeks of development. Staying Agile makes mistakes affordable. In the long run, one bad feature isn't going to kill your product if you can quickly iterate on the feedback you receive.
Stay Agile, Stay Alive
Every process has its pros and cons. Waterfall may have worked for software development at an earlier time, but now it's far too slow. There's too much overhead, you can't stay nimble, and you're locked into building based on a predefined set of requirements. These days, the world just moves too fast: you can't commit to building something that may not even work in the end. Working Agile ensures that you address problems as they arise and avoid building something nobody wants.
Build, test, rebuild, retest. That's how it's done. That's been the secret sauce behind over 250 successful app launches that I've been a part of. Build a bare bones version of your product and test your assumptions. The secret to a successful app is developing an MVP and continuously evaluating your product at its core.