3 Core Benefits of Agile Product Development
Written By: Nancy White
1/31/2023 Read Time : 4 min

Manufacturers are at a crossroads in terms of product development as they are challenged with a variety of headwinds, including:

  • Speed of the market: Customers, competitors, and a global market are requiring companies to move fast and focus on time to market to keep pace with changing trends.
  • Speed of innovation: Customers are demanding innovation at a breakneck pace.
  • Change is constant: Whether it’s a natural disaster, a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, social and political unrest, businesses today need to be flexible and resilient.
  • Software is king: Software advancement continues to both benefit and disrupt businesses.

None of these issues are new, per se, but they have increased in intensity in recent years. While most companies have adopted digital technologies to enhance their products and improve their processes, many are finding it’s simply not fast enough. They’re realizing they also need to fundamentally change how they bring products to market.

Enter agile product development. In the early 2000s, software development was transformed by adhering to the principles and core values of the Agile Manifesto. Now, those same principles can bring similar benefits to product design, manufacturing, and distribution.

Agile product development prioritizes iterative development and customer feedback and favors cycles over stages. In the fast-paced market, Agile helps businesses remain resilient and responsive to both market and customer demands.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight three of the core benefits of agile product development. Let’s get into it.

1. Optimized distributed workflows

Cross-team collaboration is one of the hallmarks of Agile. People with different expertise and perspectives are coming together to provide feedback and guide the product along in a way that makes the most sense. Engineers, product designers, marketing, and even customers are involved the process, working toward a shared milestone and offering feedback at specific checkpoints.

Over the past few years, the way we work has evolved and more than ever before work is distributed and decentralized. Instead of all employees reporting to a singular office building, employees are working remotely (part-time or full-time) and involved parties could be from anywhere in the world. Agile provides a flexible structure to fully utilize employees who no longer share a common space.

2. Reduced risk and uncertainty through greater transparency/internal communication

Several of the core principles of the Agile Manifesto are around communication, both with the customer and stakeholders and within the project team. It is through this communication that issues can be uncovered and raised throughout the process and at key stages, not just at the end.

An Agile approach calls for built-in communication, which not only keeps everyone clear on progress, but offers the opportunity for challenges to be discussed. Here are some common communication tools prevalent in Agile:

  • Daily meetings: The project team has a short meeting every day to discuss progress, upcoming work, and any hurdles. It gives the team space to discuss any challenges that could slow down the project, and the ability to brainstorm solutions, or get feedback from other experts on the team.
  • Stakeholder feedback sessions: A scheduled check-in time to review a product, piece of a product, or feature that is done enough where it can be evaluated. The goal is to obtain frequent, incremental feedback on the project, rather than waiting for a final result. The feedback, which should include customers or clients whenever possible, can then inform and guide the next steps of development.
  • Real-time collaboration: The principles of Agile essentially demand teams use tools that allow for real-time collaboration by multiple people, like Google Docs, Onshape, JIRA, Slack, etc.

It is through these frequent checkpoints, in several different forms and team configurations, that the team can reduce uncertainty, sidestep potential problems, and ultimately, reduce risks associated with the project/deliverable.

3. Incremental value delivery

Another core principle of Agile is optimized product development with the goal of delivering a working product. With physical product development, especially complex hardware, the definition of these terms can be broader.

To adapt this Agile principle to physical product development, companies are not thinking about delivering a final product, rather it’s about focusing on delivering incremental value and keeping overall project on task and timeline. Breaking down a large project into small, manageable chunks makes an overall product development process more iterative. By having regular checkpoints with the team and stakeholders, the process is more transparent and collaborative. It can also reveal any challenges, such as not having enough resources to complete the necessary work.

Final Thoughts

Agile is not some new and fleeting methodology; it is a proven product management design for more than two decades. While it’s still nascent in the product development field – and needs some adaptation – the benefits are there. In the competitive world of product design and manufacturing, Agile can help your business be resilient, innovative, and ultimately, deliver superior value to customers.


Tags: CAD Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Agile Digital Transformation
About the Author Nancy White

Nancy White is the content marketing manager for the Corporate Brand team at PTC. A journalist turned content marketer, she has a diverse writing background—from Fortune 500 companies to community newspapers—that spans more than a decade.