What is Agile: Understanding Agile Methodologies and Principles

There are many tools and techniques in today's world that can help you maximize the value of the output produced. Among the many options available, Agile is one of the most commonly used. This is because of its ability to enable teams to work in small increments and respond to changes quickly.

Before we can get started with Agile, we’ll need to really understand the waterfall model.

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What is Agile?

Agile is a collection of principles used in software development and project management. Agile focuses on enabling teams to deliver work in small, workable increments, thus delivering value to their customers with ease. Evaluation of the requirements, plans, and results take place continuously. This helps the team in responding to changes in a quick manner. 

The major principles of Agile are detailed in the Agile manifesto. Created in early 2001, the Agile manifesto details the different values and principles that embody the process. The manifesto states: 


Individuals and Interactions OVER Process and Tools

Working Products OVER Comprehensive Documentation

Customer Collaboration OVER Contract Negotiation

Responding to Changes OVER Following a Plan

Next, let’s have a look at different Agile methodologies.

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Agile Methodologies

1. Extreme Programming

It is a framework that enables teams to create high-quality software that helps improve their quality of life. It enables software development alongside appropriate engineering practices. It is applicable while handling changing software requirements risks caused due to new software, working with a small, extended development team, and technology that allows automated unit and functional tests.

2. Kanban

It is a method that’s used to design, manage, and improve the flow of systems. Kanban enables organizations to visualize their flow of work and limit the amount of work in progress. It is used in situations where work arrives unpredictably, and where it needs to be deployed immediately without waiting for other work items. 

3. Lean

It is a set of tools and principles that focuses on identifying and removing waste to speed up process development. Value is maximized, and waste is minimized. It is used in just about every industry that produces waste in some form. 

4. Scrum

It is a framework used by teams to establish a hypothesis, test it, reflect on the experience, and make adjustments. It enables teams to incorporate practices from other frameworks depending on the requirements. It is used by cross-functional teams that are working on product development, and the work is split into more than one 2-4 week iterations. 

5. Crystal

It focuses on people and their interactions, rather than on tools and processes. Aimed to streamline processes and improve optimization, Crystal works on the principle that projects are unique and dynamic. It is used when the focus is on strengthening team communication, continuous integration, active user involvement, and configurable processes.

Next up, let’s take a look at some Agile principles. 

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Agile Principles

To make a process Agile, the following principles need to be satisfied.

1. Customer Satisfaction


The customer needs to be satisfied with the quick delivery of the product.

2. Welcome Change


Even late in the development process, changing needs need to be addressed.

3. Deliver Frequently


Focus on a shorter timescale, and ensure products are delivered frequently. 

4. Work Together


The business and development team need to work together through the course of the project. 

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5. Motivated Team


Team members must be motivated and trusted to complete the project successfully and on time. 

6. Face-to-face


Having face-to-face interactions is one of the most effective forms of communication.

7. Working Software


Having working output is an indication of the progress made towards the final product.

8. Constant Pace


Agile promotes sustainable development.

9. Good Design


Improve agility by focusing on good design and technical excellence. 

10. Simplicity


The amount of time where work isn’t being done needs to be reduced.

11. Self-Organization


These types of teams provide the best designs, requirements, and architectures.

12. Reflect and Adjust


The effectiveness of the team can be improved by regularly reflecting on their work and making improvements. 

Now, let’s look at what makes Agile the first choice for several organizations worldwide.

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Advantages of Agile

  • Agile enables a large amount of collaboration and interaction between the client and the project team.
  • Thanks to this, clients have improved transparency, and therefore a clearer understanding of the phases of the project is present.
  • The product is delivered predictably, or sometimes earlier than expected.
  • The cost of the project is predictable and follows a rigid schedule.
  • Changes can refine and re-prioritize the product backlog.
  • Enables the client to prioritize different features, allowing the team to ensure maximum project value.
  • The project is broken down into smaller units, providing high-quality development, testing, and collaboration.

The Waterfall Model


The waterfall model is the earlier approach used for software development. It involves teams following a step-by-step process, only proceeding after the previous steps are completed. Each phase needs to be completed before the next phase can begin. 

Let’s have a look at the steps of the waterfall model. 

Requirement Gathering and Analysis

All the system requirements that need to be developed are collected in this phase and documented in a requirement specification document. 

System Design

The requirements from the previous phase are studied, and the system design is set up. The system design helps specify the hardware and the system requirements. It also helps define the system’s architecture. 


Based on the system design, small programs called units are developed. These units are integrated into the next phase of the process. Each of these units is developed and tested for their functionality; this process is called Unit Testing.

Integration and Testing

After each unit is tested, it is integrated into a system. After this, the entire system is checked for faults and failures.

Deployment of System

Once functional and non-functional testing is completed, the customer environment is given access or released into the market. 


To handle issues that come up in the client environment, patches are released. Maintenance can also help to enhance the project. Maintenance can help with delivering changes to the customer environment. 

Next up, let’s talk about the disadvantages of the waterfall model.

The Waterfall Model’s Disadvantages

Here are some of the disadvantages of the waterfall model:

  • Working software isn’t created until late in the project life cycle
  • There’s a large amount of risk and uncertainty
  • Not suited for complex and object-oriented projects 
  • It is unsuitable for long and ongoing projects
  • Measuring the progress within stages are difficult
  • Changing requirements cannot be accommodated
  • The end-user/client isn’t focused on
  • Testing is delayed until the project is completed

Now, let’s take a look at what Agile is. 


In this guide to help you understand Agile, we covered a number of different topics like the waterfall model, its disadvantages, what is Agile, Agile principles, advantages, and methodologies. 

Think you need more skilling up to do? You can check out Simplilearn’s Agile Scrum Master Certification Training Course. We cover how Agile can be implemented in the course, different Agile methodologies, scrum concepts, and much more in detail. The course will also enhance your ability to develop and deliver quality products to customers. 

And in case you have any questions, let us know in the comment section of this article, and our experts will get back to you right away!

About the Author

Rahul ArunRahul Arun

Rahul is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn. Blockchain, Cloud Computing, and Machine Learning are some of his favorite topics of discussion. Rahul can be found listening to music, doodling, and gaming.

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