The Importance Of Being Agile

This year has been a turbulent one for New Zealand. Not just for businesses, but for people in general, with the roller-coaster of the election which fuelled uncertainty and one of the wettest winters.

In real estate, uncertainty and weather always has an impact (visitors to open homes drop significantly when there’s wet and/or windy days in winter). Add in changes to lending conditions and this year has seen a big shift away from the last few frenetic years in the market.
Despite all the above, realestate.co.nz is still in growth mode. So how have we done it? We’ve focused on ensuring we have robust project management processes in place and to do this we use agile methodology. Here’s a bit about why we use it, why I believe it’s important for businesses and our most recent success using the process – our new website.
Although processes and tools are very important, if you don’t have the right people using those tools, they’re useless. So, the first step is to be get the right people on the job.
For the build of our new website, every day there were decisions to be made, but it was not realistic for me to be on the ground to either make or sign-off on every one. I empowered one of my team to best represent me and the business vision to keep delivery on track. Once you have the right people empowered to make the right decisions in a timely manner, it then comes down to communication (or the tools and processes) to ensure everyone is delivering and on the same journey.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

In the technology space this is paramount. You need a working prototype that people can touch, feel and use. Comprehensive documentation on its own doesn’t cut the mustard. We learnt this early on in the first stages of the website development. While we had a lot of documentation, when the team went away and built it, it wasn’t what all the stakeholders were expecting. A prototype environment allows accessibility for all users no matter where they are, so they’re fully engaged and comfortable with the journey and can collaboratively contribute feedback.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiations

Everyone needs to be part of your process, especially your clients and customers. Sometimes you can be too close to a project and not see the woods for the trees. So, it’s important to be open to their feedback and insights and have the agility to implement recommendations that work in favour of the business. We had valuable feedback during the roll out of the new website during beta testing. Firstly, we started by rolling it out to the full team here at realestate.co.nz, then our shareholders, next the real estate agents of New Zealand and finally members of the public.

Responding to change over following a plan

You need to have a robust strategy that stands the test of time but that can also take a 90 degree turn if needed. You never know what’s coming next, especially in the world of technology. Kodak is a classic example. If you’d asked in the 90’s if they thought everyone would be carrying their camera in their pocket by 2017, you can imagine their answer.

You need to stay focused on your business, but be nimble and prepared to adapt to unexpected change.