Getting Started with Iterative Development: A Quick Guide

John Williams
June 20, 2023
5 mins

In part two of our two-part blog series on iterative development, we’ll explore methodologies to help you get started with an incremental approach to your digital transformation. To learn more about the benefits of incrementally developing customer journey components, read part one here.

Form Collaborative, Multi-Disciplinary Teams 

Forming fully cross-functional product squads is recommended. A product team squad focuses on a specific area of the ecommerce journey and plays a crucial role in iteratively transforming it. Therefore, they need to have all the technical skills and business expertise they need to understand, develop and deliver those elements. By focusing on just one customer journey component, the squad can dive deep into understanding the intricacies and challenges of that specific area, allowing them to identify pain points, explore innovative solutions, and implement incremental improvements effectively.

The iterative approach followed by the product team squad enables continuous learning and adaptation. Teams can break down the development process into manageable increments, working on specific features or enhancements within their designated area. Through this iterative process, the squad can gather feedback, measure the impact of their changes, and make adjustments accordingly, closely collaborating with stakeholders to ensure alignment. Regular meetings, workshops, and feedback sessions enable the squad to refine their approach and incorporate valuable insights. This collaborative environment fosters innovation, efficient problem-solving, and the ability to respond rapidly to changing requirements.

Embark on the Path of Discovery with a Proof of Concept (PoC)  

Before committing to a full-scale implementation, initiate a Proof of Concept (PoC) stage to validate technical approaches and architectural decisions. This phase serves as a critical step in gaining a deeper understanding of various options available for the transformation journey towards composable commerce.

During the PoC stage, you can explore different technical approaches and evaluate their suitability for the specific context. This may involve experimenting with micro apps, which allow for the development of modular and independent components that can be easily integrated into the overall architecture.  Additionally, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) can be tested to assess their potential to deliver fast, responsive app-like experiences across different devices.

Front end frameworks like React, known for its flexibility and scalability, can be explored to determine its compatibility with your requirements. The PoC stage also provides an opportunity to assess the integration possibilities with vendors like Amplience, a leading provider of commerce experience solutions.

Through the PoC, businesses can test and validate the technical decisions made for the transformation journey. This includes evaluating the performance, scalability, and compatibility of different approaches, frameworks, and vendor integrations. It allows you to gather crucial insights, assess the feasibility of various options, and make informed decisions before committing to a full-scale implementation.

Although a PoC or several PoCs should be used to kick-start the move to composable commerce, a PoC is a valuable tool to also use throughout the development project. A product squad can use PoC for their customer components, which is a good step to take to reduce risks. Through conducting focused experiments and testing specific technical components, the team can identify potential challenges, uncover hidden custom solutions in the legacy platform, and validate assumptions early on.

Validate and Implement Iterative Development Strategies 

When the proof-of-concept stage has been successful, choose a low-risk area to start implementation.  This will function as a real-life testing ground, and the success of this initial version will lay the groundwork for your transformation journey, instilling the necessary confidence to expand into other areas of the customer journey.

To do this, analyze each phase of the customer journey to determine its significance, impact on the overall experience, and potential areas for improvement. Prioritize the phases based on factors such as customer pain points, business goals, and strategic importance. This prioritization will guide the iterative development process, ensuring that the most critical areas are addressed first.

When forming product squads and allocating them to focus areas, consider the size of your organization and the complexity of your ecommerce platform. If your organization is larger, you may have multiple squads dedicated to specific areas, but if your company is smaller, you can start with one or two squads and expand gradually as needed. Foster cross-functional collaboration among the squads to promote a holistic understanding of the customer journey and address interdependencies.

By considering organizational size, platform complexity, skillsets, cross-functional collaboration, and resource allocation, you can form and allocate product squads effectively, driving iterative transformation and achieving success in your composable commerce journey.

Build Momentum and Increase Agility 

The iterative approach to digital transformation provides several key benefits that contribute to the overall success of the journey. Each successful iteration builds momentum and confidence within the organization. As smaller, manageable components of the transformation are completed, teams gain a sense of accomplishment and a belief in their ability to tackle the remaining challenges. This positive momentum drives motivation and enthusiasm, propelling the transformation forward.

Furthermore, the iterative approach fosters continuous learning and improvement. Teams gather valuable insights, feedback, and data that inform their decisions and actions with each iteration. This iterative feedback loop enables you to make informed adjustments, refine your strategies, and optimize your processes. It allows for identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement, leading to more effective and efficient outcomes.

Breaking down the transformation into smaller stages gives you a deeper understanding of their technological landscape, allowing your teams to analyze and evaluate each component individually, considering factors such as compatibility, scalability, and performance, empowering you to make informed choices about the tools, platforms, and solutions that you implement. It mitigates risks associated with a large-scale overhaul by addressing potential challenges and roadblocks incrementally.

Additionally, the iterative approach cultivates a culture of agility and responsiveness. By focusing on smaller increments, you can more swiftly adapt to market demands and changing customer preferences. You have the flexibility to pivot, refine, and optimize their offerings based on real-time feedback and market insights, enabling you to stay ahead of the competition, deliver value to customers quickly, and seize emerging opportunities.