Custom Software Development & the Lean Startup Methodology

Agile development makes learning faster

An important and often neglected reason for effort overruns in custom software development projects is related to selection bias. Selection bias is the tendency to validate and choose only those things that align with our desired outcomes. When working on custom software development within the Lean Startup methodology, JTR Solutions immediately figures out the problem that needs to be solved and then develops a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, we work on tuning the engine. This involves measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect. This measuring, called validated learning, helps the development process because we don’t shut our eyes and ears to valid feedback that doesn’t match what you expected to hear, believe you need or that negates your vision.

Basing feedback on repetition of an application and deciding, solely from the measurement of that data, if the experiment worked is the basis of validated learning. Selection bias, the opposite of validated learning, effectively kills the Lean Startup methodology. It renders it impotent. You can’t pivot and you can’t know if you are “on-track” or “off-track” because you’ve already predetermined what the track is. To effectively use the Lean Startup methodology, you must view and understand all data without bias.

Improve end-user product sooner

The unit of progress for validated learning is a rigorous investigative method. Sometimes it’s not comfortable. Sometimes, it even means going back and retracing steps. But JTR Solutions depends on it because it makes clear when to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new hypothesis. Plus, by embracing validated learning, the development process can shrink considerably. When you focus on finding the right thing that customers want and will pay for, you eliminate months that could otherwise have been spent waiting for a product beta launch, only to change your direction anyway.

Amanda J. Rebuck
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