What Is Agile?

Agile methodology image

You may or may not have heard this word thrown about, it’s used in the field of IT product development e.g. websites, Intranets and digital applications. Agile is one of the big buzzwords of the IT development industry. But exactly what is agile development?

Put simply, agile development is a different way of managing IT development teams and projects.

The use of the word agile in this context derives from the agile manifesto.  A small group of people got together in 2001 to discuss their feelings that the traditional approach to managing software development projects was failing far too often, and there had to be a better way.  They came up with the agile manifesto, which describes 4 important values that are as relevant today as they were then.  It says, “we value: –

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” Ever since then, the use of methods that support these values has become increasingly popular. From my use of various agile methods, I have written about 10 key principles of agile.  These are characteristics that are common to all agile methods, and the things that I think make agile fundamentally different to a more traditional waterfall approach to software development.  They are:

  1. Active user involvement is imperative
  2. The team must be empowered to make decisions
  3. Requirements evolve but the timescale is fixed
  4. Capture requirements at a high level; lightweight & visual
  5. Develop small, incremental releases and iterate
  6. Focus on frequent delivery of products
  7. Complete each feature before moving on to the next
  8. Apply the 80/20 rule
  9. Testing is integrated throughout the project lifecycle – test early and often
  10. A collaborative & cooperative approach between all stakeholders is essential

Links witten and supplied by Kelly Waters – he was an early adopter of Agile with many projects in crisis but didn’t realise he could use this methodology with any product development project that prevented them from falling into crisis. Take a look at his story.