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FileMaker as a Tool for Agile Development

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Several decades ago, long before ubiquitous computing was the norm, almost all software was designed by using Waterfall Methodology. Waterfall is a linear-based project management approach where stakeholder requirements are completely gathered at the beginning of a project, or the discovery phase, and then sequential planning is used to accommodate these requirements. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this methodology, it does not lend itself well to user-centered or human-centered design (where iterative and frequent review with users helps inform development decisions). Recently, cloud-based technologies have helped bring the user experience even more to the forefront and this is where Agile development comes into play.

Most of us are familiar with the terms ‘Lean’ and ‘Agile’. A typical lean company, which owes much of its history to the good folks at Toyota in the 1920’s, is primarily concerned with waste, which can loosely be defined as any activity that does not create value for the customer. By driving waste out of your company, you can not only boost creativity from your workforce, but you can altogether eliminate some of the thorns in the modern business side: bureaucracy, pointless meetings, complicated hierarchy, excess and unmanaged inventory. Software developers do this by utilizing the Agile Development process, which, at its very core, can be broken down into three principles:

  1. Iterative Development
  2. Risk Management
  3. Transparency

The Principles of Agile Development

Iterative Development can be categorized by a project being broken down into small, iterative chunks, that are built rapidly and feedback through testing is often, maybe every one to three weeks.

Claris FileMaker is an excellent tool for this style of development because, rather than a team of developers taking months to code, many iterations of software can be built in FileMaker by a single developer very, very quickly. Changes are made rapidly and it’s easy to backtrack in the case where you may go down a wrong path. Likewise one can (assuming a team or project supports it) make changes that are immediately accessible to users. This efficient, flexible approach keeps clients and customers (as well as developers!) happy.

Agile Looks For Risk At Every Step

A Risk in terms of project management is anything that could prevent that project’s ultimate success. By definition then, Risk Management is concerned with mitigating any negative extenuating circumstances that threaten the health of the project. While traditional project management methodologies try to account for risk upfront, Agile looks for risk at every step of the iterative development process. FileMaker will allow a single developer to catch and mitigate risk quickly. Is it better to check the oil in a car every time you start it or just once every six months?

A Bird’s Eye View of The Project

Lastly, we can discuss Transparency. Without oversimplifying it, transparency allows all of the stakeholders involved to be able to get a bird’s eye view of the project so the bigger picture is ever-present. With FileMaker, it is trivial to grant read-only access to all of your stakeholders so they are constantly abreast of the development progress being made.

When your company utilizes a tool like FileMaker, you’ll not only be able to create a lean workflow through the use of an agile development process, you’ll mitigate any unnecessary risks that are inherent in prospective development projects. FileMaker is an exceptional platform in supporting agile development and lean workflow above all else. There isn’t anything else on the market quite comparable to it.

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