There are many methodologies to choose from when building software products. A key consideration when adopting one is how best it will serve the customer. Ideally, it should address all requirements without stifling productivity.
At Arcarius Mexen, such a methodology is B.E.A.R Engineering – an original technique initially developed as a response to managing multiple projects concurrently. It is an aggressive and practical methodology that prioritizes customer feedback and product usability. Let us explore it.
The letters B.E.A.R stand for Build, Exposure, Application, and Refinement. Therefore, B.E.A.R Engineering results in a Build (something useable) by Exposure (knowledge acquisition) then Application (immediate use) and finally Refinement (feedback-based improvement).
Build. In simple terms, a build is a version of a product that is usable by a customer. Arcarius Mexen currently has a one (1) week cadence. This means that every week, there is always something usable to share with the customer. Something they can interact with. Something they appreciate. As such, feedback is received and factored into the next iteration sooner rather than later. This carries on until the final product is realized. So what supports this approach?
Exposure. Knowledge acquisition during software development is inevitable. Sometimes this information is “domain specific”, for example, the double entry system in accounting. Other times, it is “technology specific”, for example, the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence. Often, it can be a mix of both. In either case, Arcarius Mexen begins by acquiring just the required information for the current build. By focusing their energy on a well-defined part, quality and delivery time are dramatically improved. Resources are always aligned with the work at hand and nothing is ever wasted. How is this knowledge used?
Application. Once gained, knowledge is immediately put to use. This might involve actually writing code, drafting a specification, or even configuring hardware. The basic idea is to immediately do the work you can with the knowledge you have. This lays a strong foundation for future iterations and potentially sets the tone for the rest of the project’s lifecycle because at any moment, the customer has something that they can use and comment on. “This reinforces a sense of progress over time. From experience, Arcarius Mexen has come to understand that when customers get a sense of progress, trust improves and their involvement feels important – because it is,” Founder Daniel Mwale observes. But this does not mean resting on one’s laurels.
Refinement. Once you have something to show, feedback is almost always inevitable. Second to that is change. Over time and experience, knowledge of the domain also improves. With this improved knowledge comes a need to refine previous works to better reflect their best version up to that point. Iterating in this way guarantees security and stability. If the Application produces something usable, then Refinement thoroughly polishes it. When no refinements are necessary, the build is deemed stable and shipped for UAT or, at advanced stages of development, production.
“B.E.A.R Engineering works well for us. We are able to respond early to changes. This keeps the development process lean and easy to track and coordinate. As a result, our work always reflects the customer’s needs, and that is what it is all about – doing right by our customers,” concludes Mwale, optimistic for the future and B.E.A.R Engineering’s evolution.