19 Jun 2024
8 min read

The benefits of agile methodology in digital product development



Marketing Manager

One of our values at Adaptable is that we always strive not just to build the right thing – but to build it in the right way. You might think – “why does it matter how I approach a digital project if I get what I need at the end of it?” But as we’ll get into in this post, having a development partner that thinks carefully about the project methodology you adopt can have a direct and positive impact on the end product you get.

In this blog post, we’ll set out what an agile methodology is, and the benefits of utilising it in digital product development.

What is agile methodology?

Agile project methodology is a way of managing digital projects by breaking development down into small, manageable pieces of work in dedicated blocks of time called “sprints.” In agile, we focus on delivering against a set of goals for each sprint, prioritising features that will deliver the most value and enable release, testing and feedback from users as early and frequently as possible.

The “agile manifesto”, defines key values and principles that sum up the thinking behind the agile approach versus another approach like waterfall. In a waterfall project, tasks are organised into linear stages with minimal flexibility and a comprehensive set of requirements is the milestone you’re working towards. Put simply, agile principles prioritise communication and collaboration, delivering what is most useful over something “perfect” and responding and adapting to change.

Adopting a hybrid approach

According to a survey conducted by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, just 3% of project managers only apply the methodology – whereas 89% adopt mixed methodologies, allowing for more flexibility and adaptability in projects. In the same survey, project managers report that this has lead to a 50% improvement in the success of their projects. That’s exactly the approach that we take at Adaptable – we use whichever methodology or approach is right for the project. A “one-size-fits-all” interpretation of project management methodologies doesn’t lend itself well to complex or varied projects. As Elicia, our digital project manager quite nicely puts it – “If you did any project management approach completely by the book, that would require absolutely nothing to go wrong, ever.” We use agile principles combined with other methodologies that make sense for the project and the client in order to deliver the right thing in the right way.

The benefits of agile methodology

That being said, adopting an agile methodology – or elements of an agile methodology – when it comes to digital product development brings with it a number of benefits.

Enhanced flexibility and adaptability

The nature of an agile project means that we’re able to much more easily adapt to changing requirements. Unlike in a waterfall project where a change of scope could and likely would lead to significant delays and increased cost, with agile new features can be added to a backlog and developed on a sprint-by-sprint basis, worked into each release. This adaptability can offer a significant competitive advantage – you stay ahead of changing expectations in your industry and meet them as they arise, rather than re-examining after extended periods of time.

Improved collaboration and communication

Agile projects place strong emphasis on close collaboration and fluid communication between the customer and the project team. Frequent communication feeds into the flexibility of the project and ensures it stays focused on the end goal of each sprint, as updates from both sides can be shared as and when. Encouraging frequent “face-to-face” updates (video calls count as face-to-face) rather than sporadic email or message-based means that priorities and progress can be communicated more efficiently and effectively, leading to a better end product.

Faster time to market

An agile project is focused on continually delivering value rather than an “end product”. At the beginning of each sprint, we collectively decide what the goal of that sprint is, meaning work is always focused on what’s going to benefit the product and the end user overall rather than on a particular arbitrary milestone. As we’re breaking development into feature-based chunks, time between releases can be shortened, and they can therefore be more frequent, enabling continuous improvement of the digital product based on testing and feedback without having to dedicate long stretches of time to development.

Increased product quality

As priorities and goals are set and reviewed on a sprint-by-sprint basis, you’re constantly focusing on what’s going to deliver the most value with each release. These priorities and goals are also continually informed by testing and user feedback, ensuring that the product is as useful as it possibly can be for its intended users. There’s also an ongoing focus on improving the processes and infrastructure behind the product, which is enabled by structuring work as sprints, helping to increase the quality of the product overall.

Transparency and visibility into the process

The regular communication and strong emphasis on collaboration helps to provide additional visibility between us and the client when it comes to project progress, building trust and transparency. The agile methodology also encourages regular reflection, usually at the end of each sprint, on performance and how processes can be improved to make things more efficient and improve the delivery of the product. The way agile projects are structured also help you have more visibility and control over a sustainable pace of development. As you’re planning on a sprint-by-sprint basis, this ensures you have more clarity over ongoing capacity and availability. Setting goals over a shorter period of time means you can adapt each sprint to ensure you can deliver what’s required.

Continuous improvement and iteration

With a purely waterfall project approach, each phase is dependent on the previous one being completed, and it’s usually agreed that all of the required features will be delivered in one “big” release. Testing and feedback is a dedicated chunk of time that can delay the release, and you’re usually testing against a fixed set of requirements defined way back at the start of the project rather than adapting to changing ones. Agile allows for continuous iteration in the project, based on ongoing testing and feedback and setting the goals and priorities of each sprint accordingly. We can use principles like plan-do-check-act (PDCA) to identify priorities for features:

  • Plan: Identify an opportunity for improvement
  • Do: Implement this change on a small scale
  • Check: Analyse the results of the change and assess
  • Act: Implement the change more broadly, continue to assess

Is agile right for you?

As we’ve alluded to, we are methodology agnostic – that means we’ll adapt our processes and our approach to the project and the problem that’s in front of us. There could be many reasons why an agile approach or agile principles would suit your requirements – for example if your market is changing rapidly, your problem is complex and/or you have a highly engaged customer base. There could also be a number of scenarios where agile wouldn’t suit your project, and it would be best to keep things linear and sequential as you would in a waterfall approach. It’s all down to your requirements and preferred ways of working.

Agile projects

We’ve worked with a number of organisations to develop custom digital products, using the agile approach to deliver the right thing in the right way for their users.

Utilita Energy

Partnering with leading UK pay-as-you-go energy supplier Utilita Energy, we used a series of agile sprints to design, build, test and launch a quick quote funnel for their energy-efficient boilers. We’re now using the same model to launch other funnels across their range of solutions.

Read the case study


Over a long-term partnership, we worked in agile sprints to build and iteratively improve a powerful self-service customer portal for Tiviti’s Connectivity-as-a-Service offering. The platform enables Tiviti customers to view and manage their entire network, as well as their subscription from one convenient place, offering more visibility and control than most over connectivity solutions.

Read the case study


Looking to develop a digital project? Want to make sure you’re getting it build in the right way for you and your organisation? Book a free 30-min call and we can discuss what you need and which approach might be best for you.