A Flexible Product + Agile = A Perfect Combination

This article is the first of a multi-part series exploring Guidewire's product flexibility and our implementation methodology. Part one focuses on why an agile scrum methodology works so well with flexible packaged solutions like ours. In part two, I will discuss the importance of setting implementation Product Alignment goals  and  will continue by introducing our evolved implementation strategy called Value Alignment.

A Flexible Product: Guidewire Software prides itself in delivering feature rich packaged software solutions designed specifically for the Property/Casualty Insurance market. Our products are packed with P/C Insurance best practices that provide real business benefits out-of-the-box. But a key differentiator of our products and platform is that they are designed to be flexible. That flexibility enables our customers to extend base product features or design completely new features strategic to the way they do business.

We have mature implementation practices which allow us to maximize the use of product-enabled insurance best practices while adding unique customer approaches - which can lead to differentiated value. Our approach allows customers to determine the right mix of base product benefits and configured enhancements to provide the most business benefits.

Adding Agile: A key concept of an agile methodology is employing a team based approach to implement working software in short iterations. Developers, business analysts, testers, and business subject matter experts work together in closely knit teams to understand business requirements and to design and deliver those requirements with a focus on producing fully functional software. The emphasis is on producing tested functionality which is demonstrated at the end of each iteration. So why is product flexibility important when rapidly deploying a packaged software solution using agile? 

To some it may seem self apparent. An agile methodology delivers completed business features in short iterations. An iteration is usually four weeks in duration but can be as brief as three or even two weeks. With a recommended team size of six to eight team members, it does not allow a lot of time to make changes to a packaged solution. If the solution is inflexible or difficult to configure, the team would be challenged to complete development and configuration tasks in a short time frame.

A Perfect Combination: When combining a flexible product that can be easily configured with an agile methodology, a team can focus on delivering high quality working solutions that meet specific business objectives in a short time frame. Many times customers are amazed at how much customer specific content and how many features can be configured, tested, and demonstrated in just three to four weeks. Over time, each new iteration builds upon the prior iterations' progress to deliver a fully functioning enterprise application. 

The combination of a great flexible product and a proven rapid implementation methodology allows our customers to deliver core business applications specific to their needs in short time frames. This reduces the cost of implementation and delivers business value in the shortest timeframes possible and is a key contributing factor to our customers' success.