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.

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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 an iterative way of managing projects and developing software that makes it easier for teams to deliver value to their customers more quickly and effectively. An agile team is to deliver small but consumable increments of work rather than wagering everything on a "big bang" launch.

Agile methodologies enable organizations to deliver value to customers faster and with fewer complications by systematically managing projects and developing software in an iterative fashion. The approach of an agile team is to deliver work in small, but consumable, increments, rather than wagering everything on a "big bang" launch. As a result of continuously evaluating requirements, plans, and results, teams are able to respond to change in a timely manner.

Agile is a Mindset

The values and principles of the Agile Manifesto serve as the foundation for the agile mindset. These values and principles offer direction on change, react, and handle uncertainty. Try something you think might work when faced with uncertainty, get feedback, and make adjustments as needed.

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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.

Read more: Agile vs Scrum: Know the Main Differences and Similarities

Read more: Benefits of Agile Methodology

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

1-agile

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

2. Welcome Change

2-agile.

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

3. Deliver Frequently

3-agile

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

4. Work Together

4-agile

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

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5. Motivated Team

5-agile

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

6. Face-to-face

6-agile

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

7. Working Software

7-agile

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

8. Constant Pace

8-agile

Agile promotes sustainable development.

9. Good Design

9-agile

Improve agility by focusing on good design and technical excellence. 

10. Simplicity

10-agile

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

11. Self-Organization

/11-agile.

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

12. Reflect and Adjust

12-agile

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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Key Agile Concepts

Here are a few essential Agile concepts.

  • User Stories: The team divides the work into functional units known as "user stories" in consultation with the client or product owner. Each user story must add something valuable to the final product.
  • Daily Meeting: The team meets every day at the same time to update everyone on the information necessary for coordination:
  • Personas: When the project requires it, the team creates in-depth, fabricated biographies of hypothetical users of the intended product. 
  • Team: A small group of individuals assigned to the same project or effort, almost all of whom work full-time, is referred to as a "team" in the Agile context.
  • Incremental Development: Agile teams prefer to use an incremental development strategy, which in an Agile setting means that each iteration of the product improves on the one before it by including user-visible functionality.
  • Iterative development: Agile projects intentionally permit "repeating" software development activities and the potential for "revisiting" the same work products, known as iterative development.
  • Milestone Retrospective: After a project has been running for a while, the team dedicates one to three days to examine the key moments.

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How Does Agile Work? 

Here is the working of Agile - 

  1. Define the project: The team, along with the customer, defines the project's goals, objectives, and requirements.
  2. Create a backlog: A backlog is a prioritized list of tasks that need to be completed. The customer, product owner, and the team work together to create the backlog.
  3. Plan the sprint: The team plans the sprint by selecting the highest-priority tasks from the backlog and determining how much work can be completed in the upcoming sprint.
  4. Execute the sprint: The team works on completing the tasks planned for the sprint, with daily meetings to check progress and address any issues.
  5. Review and demo: At the end of the sprint, the team demonstrates the completed work to the customer and gets feedback.
  6. Retrospect: The team retrospects on the sprint, discussing what went well, what didn't, and what can be improved for the next sprint.
  7. Repeat: The process is repeated for each sprint until the project is completed. The product is incrementally developed and delivered to the customer in small chunks.
  8. Continuously improve: Agile methodologies focus on continuous improvement. The team reflects on its progress and makes adjustments as necessary to improve processes, tools, and communication for the next sprint.

How is Agile Different?

Agile is different from traditional project management methodologies in several ways:

  • Agile prioritizes flexibility and continuous improvement over following a strict plan. Agile methodologies are designed to be adaptive and responsive to changing requirements and priorities.
  • Agile emphasizes collaboration between teams, customers, and stakeholders and encourages open communication and transparency throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Agile uses short iterations called sprints to manage and track progress, with regular reviews and assessments to ensure that the project stays on track.
  • Agile encourages the delivery of working software early and often rather than waiting until the end of the project to deliver a final product.
  • Agile methodologies like Scrum have specific roles, ceremonies, and artifacts unique to Agile methods.

Overall, Agile approaches focus on continuous delivery and improvement, adaptability and customer involvement. In contrast, traditional project management approaches focus more on following a plan and sticking to a budget and schedule.

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.

Learn more: Agile Sprint in Software Development
Learn more: What Is Disciplined Agile

Agile Disadvantages

  • Organizational cultures can conflict with agile values
  • Teams may use inconsistent practices
  • Teams may encounter resistance from organizations to change in adoption.

When Should You Use Agile Project Management?

Agile is a project management approach that is better suited for ongoing projects and projects where specific details are unclear from the beginning because of its core principles, which include continuous delivery, iteration, adaptability, and short time frames, among others. Therefore, an Agile approach is a good choice for a project lacking precise constraints, deadlines, or resources.

The Waterfall Model

Waterfall_model-what_is_agile

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. 

Implementation

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. 

Maintenance

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. 

Using Agile and Waterfall Methodologies

Not all projects neatly fall into one of the two categories. An Agile-Waterfall hybrid approach can make sense for projects that could benefit from aspects of both a traditional approach and an iterative approach. It could imply, for instance, that planning and design get done using the Waterfall method while development is via Agile's short development cycles.

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

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What is Business Agility?

People who seek Business Agility ask themselves, "How might we structure and operate our organization in a way that allows us to create and respond to change and deal with uncertainty,"

Business agility could be defined as the understanding that for individuals within an organization to operate with an Agile mindset, the entire organization must support that mindset. Before the organization altered its structure and operations to function in an uncertain environment, agile software development was never agile.

Agile Business Analysis or Agile Project Management

People involved in software development searched for a way to understand how these Agile concepts applied to their work as Agile Software Development gained popularity.

Software developers (along with a tester) wrote the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles to address problems they encountered. 

Asking, "How might we perform project management in a way that allows us to create and respond to change and deal with uncertainty" will help you better understand Agile project management.

Conclusion

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!

FAQs

1. What is Agile explain?

Agile is a methodology for managing projects in a flexible and adaptive way. The main idea of Agile is to prioritize flexibility and continuous improvement over following a strict plan.

2. What are the 4 principles of Agile?

The four principles of Agile are: individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change. An example of an Agile method is Scrum.

3. What is an Agile example?

An example of an Agile method is Scrum. It is a framework for managing and completing complex projects. It is often used in software development, but can also be applied to other fields. Scrum is based on the Agile principles of flexibility and continuous improvement, and it uses short iterations called sprints to manage and track progress.

4. What is the main idea of Agile?

The main idea of Agile is to prioritize flexibility and continuous improvement over following a strict plan. Agile methodologies are designed to be adaptive and responsive to changing requirements and priorities, allowing teams to deliver working software quickly and efficiently. Agile also emphasizes collaboration between teams, customers, and stakeholders, and encourages open communication and transparency throughout the project lifecycle.

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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