Part #10 Justifying Time to Research with Agile

Agile Research

I worked for a company that designed and manufactured niche signal processing equipment for the broadcast industry. Part of the secret to the company’s success was that it was not shy in investing significant amounts of revenue in a research department as well as allowing its engineers to carry out their own research projects.

In my opinion all technology companies need invest in research, but think about adopting some agile principles in funding research to ensure that time can be traced and that the business gets a good return on investment (ROI) for research that has been untaken. Here's my list of five potential things that you can adopt when thinking about trying to find time during your busy day to justify time to carry out research.
#1. Identify areas that require research and build it into the sprints backlog.
#2. Ensure that product managers have time to research so that they are up-to-date on the latest widgets, gadgets and technologies. Product management research will not be part of the backlog but nonetheless the research needs to be done in a time-boxed way. It may be an idea to set your self a research goal for each sprint (using the start and finish of the sprint as time markers).
#3. Give time for the engineering team and product managers to formally report back on what they have researched.
#4. Take note of any newly introduced functionality or enhancements that comes about as a result of the research that has been carried out.
#5. Track the benefits (in terms of increased traffic to your website - equipment sold because of the additional feature etc…) and therefore prove business benefit and therefore ROI.

For more on this topic read: Innovating in Large Companies which encourages us to spend 20% of our time in research and innovation.

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