Agile methods are software development methods which apply the iterative and evolutionary development, employ adaptive planning, promote incremental delivery, and include other values and practices that encourage agility. They are best suited for projects characterized by changing, speed and turbulence. In the beginning of 2001, a group of agile methods followers created the Agile Manifesto containing agile principles that all agile methods should follow.

What does that really mean? What are the implications for our daily business? Let’s analyze these principles and see where this gets us.

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Takeaway:

highest priority, satisfy, customer, early, valuable”

Our represents the software team responsible for customer satisfaction.

Early delivery means that the increments should be early. Features are divided into smaller pieces, the functional increments. This helps to fasten the process of the customers feedback and leads to the higher understanding of customers’ needs.

Continuous delivery lets developers produce increments in short cycles. It ensures that the software can be reliably released at any time.

Valuable defines the real value committed by the team and delivered to the customer.

Practices:

Product Backlog, Real Customer, Sprint Review, Incremental Deployment, Releases, Iteration, Whole Team

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Takeaway

 “changing, even late, competitive”

Changing emphasizes the possibility of the change for the customer requirement. Requirements are dynamic and shape up during the development process.

Even late in the project timeline it enables to correct the constant increments. The outcome will match customers’ needs no matter how those needs may change.

Customers competitive advantage is defined by the response to change on the market due to for instance short feedback loop.

Practices

Sprint Planning, Customer Involvement, Product Backlog, Sprint Review, Planning Game, Frequent Delivery

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Takeaway

 “working software, frequently, shorter”

Working software means that the delivery conforms the Definition of Done, Condition of Satisfaction and value, which is described above.

Shorter timescale leads to frequent delivery of working features into the hands of customers and other stakeholders as soon as possible. The team receives informative, immediate feedback on necessary changes.

Practices

Incremental Deployment, Releases, Sprint review, Product Demo, Definition of Done, Acceptance Test, Sprint review

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Takeaway

 “work together”

Business people are product owners and any stakeholder who is a proxy person within the team and customers.

Work together leads to a common culture. The end product is seen as a common deliverable. Working together actually means working together on a daily basis preferably in the same space with constant interaction throughout the project.

Practices

Customer Involvement, Whole Team, Osmotic Communication, Daily Scrum

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.

Takeaway

 “Build, motivated, support, trust, done”

This principle leads to the productive and cost-effective project execution and self-organized teams. Motivation has to be mutual; around the developers and their attitude to agile methods usage. Hertzberg eloquently explains the hygiene factors (working equipment, vacations, trainings, …) and motivators (challenging work, responsibility, …)

Practices

Motivation, Servant Leadership, Team continuity

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Takeaway

“face-to-face” 

The aim of this principle is to effectively transfer a message from sender to a recipient in order to correctly understand the key factor in the projects. It leads to speed up the agile projects’ communication. Face-to-face communication enables to use whiteboards for drawing images that can stimulates and energizes the discussion. It also contributes to direct feedback between sender and recipient. Everyone is involved in the discussion and see the business purpose behind requirements.

Practices

Informative workspace, Servant Leadership

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Takeaway

“working software”

The most important measure for business should be working software. Of course, there are many other measures, which we can and must use, for instance the number of bugs found, euros spent, lines of code added, …

Practices

Customer tests, Product Demo, Incremental Deployment, Releases, Release Burndown, Measurements

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Takeaway

“sustainable development”

The team is developing at some given speed, but it does not mean that it indefinitely burns customers’ money. The amount of time and effort the team invests in a development process has to be almost constant during the whole process.

Practices

Customer Involvement, Motivation

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Takeaway

“technical excellence, good design”

Continuous attention means rules and quality policies. They define which design is good or bad, which piece of code is excellent or ugly, … This keeps concentration high, focused but also implies to take a break in case of distraction or powerless.

Technical excellence is gained by the right staff and their skills. Continuous learning acquires new knowledge and improves skills.

Good design means that a product looks nice inside in first place.

Enhances agility – requires the right attitude and acceptance of the agile values.

Practices

Motivation, Testing, Sprint Retrospective, Pair Programming, Test-Driven Development, Refactoring, Sprint retrospective

 

Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not being done—is essential.

Takeaway

“simplicity” 

The tasks are small enough to make sure they are either doable or cancellable. This encourages to give programmers small tasks, which can be easily completed.

Practices

Limit Work in Progress, Decide As Late As Possible, Business Values

The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. 

Takeaway

“self-organization”

The best architecture, requirements and design must be approached as a whole system belonging together and building the resulting product.

Emerge encourages creation in an evolutionary way.

Self- organizing teams does not mean unorganized chaos. It does not lead to a legalization of anarchy. If teams have all the necessary roles and skills to create the wanted product, they are able to decide and organize by themselves.

Practices

Team, Test Driven Development, Refactoring, Servant Leadership

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Takeaway

“regular intervals, tune, adjust”

 This principle is translated into retrospective meetings. The best team is the one that is capable of quickly and inevitably rejecting impediments. Only the members are able to inspect and adapt their own habits and to decide what to change.

Practices

Iteration, Sprint, Cycles, Value Stream Mapping, Root Cause Analysis, Sprint Retrospective