Agile is a buzzword and with that comes misuse. Agile is not all about software development, it can be seen as a mindset, philosophy, set of values or a way of life.
Agile Principles-The Agile Manifesto
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more”
Agile Big Data
Data is ever changing with technological advancement and it is only proper to adopt techniques that can yield the most efficient outcome. So what is the Agile Big Data or as we will call in this article ABD, just because I heard you love acronyms and of course it comes with a nice ring to it. ABD could be considered as the foundation of most organizations especially in the times we are in, with GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act, Brazilian General Data Protection Law and the many more laws coming up in just a matter of time. The agile framework is considered a value-driven development, it is only proper to apply it to one’s data if the whole idea of having data is to gain insight|value.
There is an ABD to every organization and a proper approach will help avoid some of the main problems that we have seen arise.
Agile Big Data Manifesto
We are discovering better ways to manage an Agile Big Data:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Clean quality data over comprehensive documentation
- Fair and unbiased users collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change in data over following a plan
This is by no means set as the standard but as long as we follow the ABD goal which is to ensure proffering solutions by proper data analysis. As simple as this goal might appear, if the ABD manifesto is not followed properly then we have solutions that are biased or just plain wrong.
“We would have noticed that there is mention of the outcome, at the end of the day, data is of no use if a value is not gotten from it. In order to avoid a long name, we will skip the analytics.“
Data Development Lifecycle
Below is a graphical representation of a data development lifecycle. We will not be going into a detailed explanation of the components in this article. However, we will be referring to this lifecycle as we discuss Oma Essentials ABD adaptation.
There are different components to a big data project. This same approach works in the software development cycle which includes:
- Agile Team
This is the most important part of a data project. I know you ask what about the data? Yes, but how can you truly get value from it. You need the right blend of expertise, experience, and curiosity which is the most important thing to have. The team is able to implement a mixture of the different Lean|Agile frameworks and project management. As we have the project manager for the team, we also need the SCRUM master that will help in achieving the set MVP.
- Data-Driven Development
Is it possible to consider this as an Agile Framework? Data-driven development is intertwined with a test-driven development approach and rests on an automation foundation. There might not be a standard definition for DDD but I want to think of it as a Data-Centric development, where the final system outcome is based on the data to ensure the final result is unbiased and valuable.
- Agile Tools and Method
Agile comes with continuous planning and development. What productive tools do we need? How can the team ensure project goals are met? Methods such as SCRUM or sAFE? The tools play a very important role as we will see in the case study section. RStudio, Git, Tableau? Yes, how about applications like JIRA and Confluence? At the end of the day, tools differ per business need|budget. It is common to see the tools mentioned above but then the Canvas app helps in the design creation for Instagram business posts. Every business has to discover what exactly works for them as against the “popular” mentions.
Proof of Concept using Oma Essentials
About Oma Essentials
I interviewed the Lead Formulator at Oma Essentials and we decided to run a PoC on their luxury collection and test how the combination of Agile and data can help improve the business. The current flow is a mixture of Agile and Waterfall in the production process.
We decided to work on an Agile approach using the data from customer order data into the production and shipping process.
Duration and Resources
We decided to implement this within a two-week sprint using customer order requests and delivery timeline per customer preference.
- Raw materials sourcing
- Customer feedback
- Using multiple shipping companies based on pickup preference.
- App receipt generation for finance and accounting purposes.
- Log record of production vs sales
Keeping in mind that our outcome should have the basic characteristics such as reusability, scalable, efficient, clarity, etc and of course have a working MVP at the end of the two-week sprint cycle that can be integrated into the future production process. The idea is that with a natural product line we have that to ensure the quality and the effectiveness of the products remain intact.
The two major outcomes mentioned below takes into account an agile response to their customer complaints.
- Increased production to match customer orders
- Delivery speed: The figure below shows a significant drop in the order pick up time for delivery as against January and February.
Agile is a way of life, you can never go wrong applying it to your business flow. Oma Essentials was looking to ensure shipment within and outside of Nigeria was handled and delivered as expected by the customer. It helps that with the current lockdown|restriction as a result of COVID-19, the PoC was still successful especially as one of the main challenges faced was the lockdown order. We understand that this process was not as in-depth as to handle sourcing ingredients in relation to increased production. As earlier mentioned, PoC is meant to be reusable and with our current success, this process will be integrated on a larger scale.