Agile adoption today has been on a steady rise. Recent COVID-19 impetus has made it even more so! In 2021, cloud adoption statistics reveal that 71% of companies already use Agile. Further, its application outside the software sector is constantly expanding and it has helped 98% of companies.
Probably, there is not a single business owner who has not heard of “agile” nowadays. It does look like the new norm in modern software development, albeit featuring some twenty years of history. Yet, many people still confuse it with a project management methodology or technology…
Keeping this in mind, today we will look into what the Agile concept originally stands for. We will focus on the gist of the approach, its foundations and principles. We will also briefly cover some key project management methodologies. Finally, we will highlight the benefits it brings to customers and teams.
Wondering if Agile is not a methodology in itself? Well, …if you need to deep dive into the topic fast, watch this intro cartoon video.
What is Agile?
Agile is a flexible and incremental approach to software development, where work is broken into smaller bits that enable continuous consideration of customer feedback, review of requirements and improvement by iteration. Agile empowers software teams to better adapt to change, deliver early, attain quality software, etc. Thus, it adds to achieving higher customer satisfaction.
Unlike traditional project approaches such as “waterfall”, Agile is not a prescriptive approach. Instead of defining structured processes or strict techniques, it allows for team self-organization, collaboration and selection from a menu of suitable methodologies.
Agile prioritizes people, open communication and just sufficient planning to get the work in focus done. Sharing the agile vision of collaborating, improving and delivering a working solution is key to agile transformation. Read more here.
Fundamentals underpinning the approach
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
If one looks back into the history of Agile, one will see that it is often associated with the creation of the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Abiding by its vision is still what makes a key step of going agile today.
Created in Utah by a team of seventeen software development experts, the document underpins the core agile values and advocates for:
As simple as it is, the agile manifesto emerged as the game-changing document which shaped and still shapes agile culture. Soon, the professional software community endorsed and expanded it, formed dedicated organizations to promote it, developed enhanced versions of the original document, agile glossaries, application methodologies, etc.
Not certain if this is vital today? Read this article to get an idea.
Twelve Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto
A key addition to the manifesto was introduced in 2005, outlining the framework for applying the agile vision into project management practices by a set of key principles. This is what became known as the 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto, sometimes also referred to as the “Agile Declaration of Independence”.
Here is what the agile project management complement features:
Endorsing the Agile Manifesto and its key 12 principles are the two indispensable elements of agile adoption. If you are interested in exploring other agile essentials, please see here.
Methodologies and tools for agile project management
As seen above, agile and its project management methodologies are somewhat different concepts. In fact, there are several popular project management methodologies suited to apply agile. Let’s see what they are.
Agile Frameworks and Project Management Methodologies
Project management methodologies for agile may be different but all of them embrace the notions of frequency of iterations, continuous improvement, communication and customer satisfaction.
Here are three of the most popular agile project management methodologies used by software development teams all over the world:
- Scrum – one of the most popular agile frameworks for software development which facilitates teamwork by a methodology-specific toolset. The latter focuses on splitting work into sprints and introducing an overall collaborative process of sprint planning, iteration review and retrospectives.
- Kanban – one of the main two lean methodologies that takes its origins from manufacturing. It is based on a set of change management and service delivery principles and concrete practices dealing with workflow visualization and management, limitation of the work in progress, introducing feedback loops, etc.
- Extreme Programming (XP) – considered as the most specific agile software development framework that emphasizes the delivery of higher quality software and higher quality of life for the software development team.
Tools for agile project management
Agile project management tools are constantly evolving too. The 2021 Gartner rating, for example, highlights JIRA Software, Azure Boards and GitLab as the top three enterprise agile planning tools for the year.
If you need a straightforward recommendation of a tool, we can openly stand up for JIRA Software too and further encourage researching Atlassian for other helpful agile resources. Still, keep an eye on the market as other methodology-specific solutions are emerging daily.
Benefits of agile adoption
The popularity of agile adoption is due to numerous factors. Yet, the benefits it brings to software teams and customers alike stand out. Among many, these may be due to the philosophy of the approach enabling both open and collaborative team culture and keeping a consistent customer orientation.
Going a step further discloses more than that. Agile adoption is clearly also associated with advantages such as meeting expectations at the best value for money, reducing risks of misalignment, enabling faster response to change, improving work efficiency, result quality, communication flow, etc.
You can find further insights on the approach benefits in the White Paper on Agile Adoption and the Benefits of Agile Transformation.
The original Agile concept stands for an open, incremental and flexible approach to software and enables different project management methodologies.
Agile is one of the most popular recent software development frameworks. More than that, it is perfectly complementary with modern practices such as DevOps. If you are interested in exploring this in further detail, do not hesitate to contact us.