What is Agile Methodology

Agile is tightly connected to the software development area, and is usually mentioned in that exact context. It was created to increase development efficiency. But today it is so much more.

Agile in general is an iterative approach based on the power of dividing and interacting. While it is an oft-suggestedstrategy to “go big” — build something from scratch to a huge launch (and cry if the launch wasn’t a success), Agile is the idea of small steps synchronized in every part of the project.

In Agile process everybody can find and fix small mistakes before they build into a monstrous problem. They’ll feel connected to all parts of the project, instead of like an alien in their own spaceship.

Requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously so teams have an opportunity to respond to change quickly.

That’s why Agile is still so popular. It also has an absolutely transparent ideology, and even a Manifesto! 

What are Agile’s core values and principles

Agile Manifesto teaches us the right things to do, putting it into core values and guiding principles.

4 core values of Agile

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

It means the human element is always more significant than tech tools, no matter how sophisticated those are. Relying too heavily on processes and tools could cause an inability to adapt.

  1. Working software over comprehensive documentation.

It means that one should never forget what is really important. And this is not perfectly filled documentation; this is the result. Everybody should do exactly what they need to get the job done, without bureaucracy overload.

  1. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

Customers are a company's most powerful asset, its stability, its main power. That’s why you should involve them in the process as much as you can to ensure that the end product meets their needs more effectively.

  1. Responding to change over following a plan.

Having a good plan is gold. But every project is changing through time, so it could lose the connection to the initial plan. This is an absolute deal breaker for traditional project and product management, but is 100% okay for an Agile team.

12 principles of Agile

Here are basic Agile approaches that should guide you through every part of the work process.

  1. The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software or whatever you produce.
  2. Every changing requirement, even late in development, should be welcomed due to its importance for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Projects should be delivered frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Of course the shorter the timescale the better.
  4. Coordinating team members must work together throughout the project on a daily basis.
  5. Motivated individuals should get more attention. Build your project around them, give them the right environment, and support they need. And, most importantly, trust them.
  6. Face-to-face communication should be encouraged as the most efficient method.
  7. The final product should be the primary sign of progress.
  8. All stakeholders should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Technical excellence and good design that enhances agility should get attention continuously.
  10. Simplicity should be your religion — as the art of maximizing the amount of work not done.
  11. Remember that self-organizing teams create the best architectures, requirements, and designs.
  12. Team members should reflect on how to become more effective and adjust, regularly.

It is fair to say that these principles should become a North Star for any team adopting an Agile methodology.

How did it start

We started with “all these years”, but haven’t mentioned till now how old Agile really is.

The answer is: a bit older than 20 years. In early 2001 in Snowbird, Utah, 17 people met to discuss the future of software development. They all were frustrated with the current state of affairs: companies were so focused on excessively planning and documenting all the development cycles that the sight of what really mattered was completely lost. That needed to change. And since many of Snowbird 17 already had ideas about how to usher in software development new era; that was the moment Agile Manifesto was born. It was just 68 words — a good start for the documents mess battle, ready to change software development forever.

Since then, two decades have passed, and Agile principles have been embraced by countless individuals, teams, and companies. Of course, all of them have adapted the statements and core values according to specificity.   

Why choose Agile Methodology?

In general, Agile helps respond to changes in the marketplace, get feedback from customers quickly, and put it to work with no plan breaking and struggle. Agile lets focus on people — on their needs, desires, talents and strengths, and due to that helps the product development process become more natural, more inspiring, and, after all, more efficient.

But actually every part here has its own benefits from embracing Agile values.

  • If you are a customer, you get the vendor more responsive to development requests.

  • If you are a vendor, you have an opportunity to reduce wastage by focusing development effort on high-value features. Also, you can improve customer satisfaction, which translates to better customer retention and more positive customer references.

  • If you are a member of a development team, you will enjoy development work, and the feeling of seeing it used and valued.

  • If you are a product manager (and also a product owner), you will be able to make customers happy with less effort, becausedevelopment work is, according to Agile, aligned with customer needs.

  • If you are a project manager, your planning, tracking, and team organizing tasks are easier and more concrete, compared to waterfall processes.

So, Agile methods fit anywhere. But…

… is the Manifesto still relevant?

While Agile Methodology serves huge international companies leading us to the future, why not change it? Does it need to be updated and improved?

Actually, no. Agile Manifesto is not just a document or some product management guide — it is an ideology, a statement, a firm “no” to bureaucracy mess and time wasting. So this is, basically, untouchable.

And those who want to embrace it might be able to reinterpret it, adapt it to their own development cycles. But never change.