10 Most Critical Software Innovation Practices

Companies evolve to become successful software innovation practitioners. We see it regularly. These are some of the most critical factors we observe as companies champion themselves into the world of fast software innovation.

1. Team Trust
Business stakeholders must trust the team to build the right product and the development team must know the features are prioritized. This relationship, based on trust and communication, takes time and commitment.

2. Team Communication
Business stakeholders and the team are speaking the same language. The feature descriptions or user stories are simple and clear. Everyone with a stake in the project can explain a feature.

3. Focus on Business Value
Focus on Business Value – The product backlog should always be customer focused. What does the customer want? And what do they most want first?

4. Produce Shippable Increments Quickly
Drive the product to a potentially shippable state every 2-4 weeks. Everything should have been designed, coded, tested, and all bugs fixed. It is ready to put into customers’ hands.

5. Have a Strong Product Owner
Have a Strong Product Owner – The product owner is the absolute owner of the product’s vision and requires critical thinking to be able to map out the route to delivering value.

6. Product Visibility
The development team is demonstrating the shippable increments to the business stakeholders every 2-4 weeks. It is most effective if the product is deployed so stakeholders can use it themselves, or send to others for feedback.

7. Use an Estimating Process
You need to be able to drive a schedule. If you want to ship something in six months, the team shouldn’t have 12-months’ worth of work to do. Use a process to figure out how fast the team is moving and extrapolate to predict the schedule.

8. Create a Shared Definition of Done
Create a bullet list of requirements that need to be met before a user story or bug can be considered done or shippable. Then share it with all members of the development team and all stakeholders.

9. Use the Right Tools
Rely on the right set of architectural and testing tools to make sure you are building a quality product. Match that with a commitment to test-driven development.

10. Follow Agile Principles
This is a catchall. But generally, we find when people truly stay nimble they can better address market demands more quickly.