Iteration of product and project

Posted in — Lessons Learned > Technology
September 21, 2017
(Photo by Dana Smith/iDE)

An iterative development approach mimics natural marketplace agility.

Traditional approaches to development projects include identifying a set of very specific, measurable goals. Although it is important to be held accountable, such rigidity assumes conditions are unchanging and often does not leave space to switch course as new information is discovered. It also does not mimic natural marketplace agility whereby actors change behaviors depending on how they see themselves generate greater profit.

Such agility needs to be reflected in products and services too, not just project goals.

Creating more user-centered and cost effective versions of products and designing smarter marketing and distribution strategies—all informed by constant data collection—can ensure high sales. iDE strives to ensure all of its solutions are tailored to local contexts even if it means questioning the most foundational project approaches.

This impluvium made of locally sourced bamboo is the latest iteration of the technology. (Photo by Dana Smith/iDE)

Honduras Case Study: The freedom to iterate

For example, while implementing activities for the sale of micro-irrigation technology (MIT) in Honduras for the SDC Scaling Up Productive Water project, it became clear that farmers did not feel the urgency of buying MIT because there was a lack of water available. It became important therefore to shift resources away from MIT sales and focus on rainwater harvesting, pumping, water storage, and good water governance solutions.

Although it was not part of the initial project plan to focus on these technologies or on market and water governance, investigation into the market made clear that they were necessary prerequisites to ensure the sale of drip kits.
Using such an iterative project approach, iDE was able to use resources more efficiently, focusing on the urgent needs of the community and what was necessary to ensure sustainable economic growth.

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