An Agile Overview
Agile is a way to manage projects. It can be used for virtually anything, but it was founded in software development. This handbook focuses on agile for software development, but many of the principles can be expanded to other fields. Agile breaks down larger projects into small, manageable chunks called iterations. At the end of each iteration (which generally takes place over a consistent time interval), something of value is produced. The product produced during each iteration should be able to be put into the world to gain feedback from users or stakeholders. Unlike Waterfall project management, which is strictly sequenced: you don’t start design until research is done and you don’t start development until the designs are signed off on; agile has designers, developers, and business people working together simultaneously.
As made popular by the “Agile Manifesto”, agile values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile realizes that software (and marketing) projects are inherently unpredictable. Over the course of any project, there are likely to be changes. Be it market changes or feature changes as the product comes to life. Agile embraces this unpredictability. By breaking down projects into small chunks, it makes it easy to prioritize and add or drop features mid-project. Something that is impossible in traditional waterfall projects.
The 12 Principles
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile’s processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.