agile-manifesto-principles

What are the 12 Principles of Agile Manifesto?

agile-manifesto-principles

What is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto is a short manifesto promoting agile software development based on four ideals and twelve principles. The Agile Manifesto was written by 17 software development professionals who saw a growing need for an alternative to documentation-driven and heavyweight software development processes. It was published in February 2001.

What is the history behind the Agile Manifesto?

In February 2001, 17 software developers were gathered at a resort for skiing in Utah. Of course, they came to enjoy a day of skiing, relaxation, and a meal and drink. But, most importantly, the were in there to complain and pontificate and solve issues.

While they all had different opinions about the best method to develop software, the team agreed on one specific factor: the status quo wasn’t functioning. There was a growing demand for a different approach to document-driven and large-scale processes for software development.

The group was named “The Agile Alliance” from their meeting in Utah during winter was The Agile Manifesto, a concise document based on 4 values and 12 principles to guide Agile Software Development.

It’s important to remember that agile itself wasn’t created at the time. Before this, its founders and various other developers were already applying agile principles and values in a fragmented manner. However, the Agile Manifesto reinforced the concepts circulating in software development over the past decade.

The four Values of The Agile Manifesto

4-values-of-agile-manifestoThe Agile Manifesto comprises the four core values and 12 fundamental principles that guide the Agile approach to software development. Each Agile approach implements each of the values in various ways. However, they all depend on these values to guide the development and distribution of high-quality functional software.

  1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools

The most important value of the Agile manifesto. The first value in the Agile Manifesto is “Individuals and interactions between the tools and processes“. The notion of valuing individuals more than tools or processes is clear because it’s the people who are responsive to business needs and direct their development processes. If the process or tools drive development, the team will be less responsive to changes and less likely to fulfill customers’ demands. Communication is one example of the differences between valuing people versus processes. In the case of people’s communications, they are continuous and occur whenever the need arises. When it comes to processes, the communication is planned and needs specific details.

  1. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation

Historically, a significant amount of time was spent documenting the product in preparation for development and eventual delivery. Each requires technical specifications, technical requirements, technical prospectus, interface design documents, test plans, documentation plans, and approvals. The list was vast, which contributed to the lengthy development delays. Agile does not eliminate documentation; rather, it simplifies it so that the developer has all they need to complete the task without getting bogged down in details. Agile uses user stories to document requirements, and they are enough for a software developer to start working on a new function.

The Agile Manifesto places a high priority on documentation, but it places an even higher value on working software.

  1. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation

Negotiation is when the customer and the product manager work out the delivery details, with the possibility of renegotiating the details along the route. Collaboration is a completely different animal. Customers negotiate the product requirements, often in great detail, before any work begins via development methodologies like Waterfall. This meant that the client was actively involved in development before the beginning of development and also after the work was completed. However, not during the development process. The Agile Manifesto describes a client who is involved and interacts with the development team throughout the process. This makes it much easier for developers to match the customer’s requirements. Although agile techniques may include the client at regular intervals for periodic demos, a project might just as easily include an end-user as a daily member of the team who attends all meetings and ensures the product fulfils the customer’s business needs.

  1. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

The old way of developing software saw changes as a cost, and it was best avoided. The goal was to create elaborate, detailed plans with a list of features, with everything with the same priority as the rest and with a significant amount of dependencies on the delivery of the features in a specific sequence to allow the team to focus on the next piece in the puzzle.

When using Agile, the speed of an iteration is that priority can be changed between iterations, and the addition of new features is possible to the next iteration. Agile believes that changes always benefit a project. They add value.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the positive aspects of Agile’s Method of change more than the notion of method Tailoring that is described in The Agile Information Systems Development Method, which is defined as: “A process or capability where human agents decide the development strategy to a specific situation through the responsive change in and dynamic interactions between contexts, intentions and methods elements.” Agile methodologies allow the Agile team to change the process to be more suited to the team instead of the reverse.

The Twelve Agile Manifesto Principles

12 Principles are the guiding principles of the practices described under the heading “The Agile Methodology.” They outline an environment where change is encouraged, and the customer is the primary focus of work. They also outline the purpose of the movement as described in the words of Alistair Cockburn, one of the signatories of the Agile Manifesto, which is to align development with the business requirements.

The 12 guidelines of an agile approach to development comprise:

Agile Principle 1

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

The most effective ways to ensure that your customers are satisfied and keep delivering great software is to release it early, frequently iterate and be attentive to your audience continuously.

In contrast to traditional product development methods, which can have notoriously lengthy time frames for development, agile methods help reduce the time between concept and launch. The goal is to have an actual product into the customers’ hands as quickly as feasible. When this is accomplished, the product managers can quickly put a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) out and out into the world and then make use of it to collect feedback from actual customers. The feedback then feeds back into the development process and is then utilized to help inform the development of future products.

What does it look like in real life:

  • Product teams employ minimally viable products and speedy experiments to test hypotheses and confirm concepts.
  • The frequent releases fuel the continuous feedback loop between the product and its customer.
  • The words “shipped” and “done” aren’t the same. Instead of releasing a “finished” product, the iterations keep making incremental improvements to the product in response to market and customer feedback.

Agile Principle 2

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

In the world we live in, changing is the only thing that stays constant. Values and agile principles help in adapting to these changes instead of moving forward even in the face of these changes. Prior approaches to developing products were usually averse to change. Meticulously documented plans were created before the production began and were put on the table regardless of new research findings. Agile principles allow for observing changes in demands of customers, markets, and threats to competition and adjusting course as needed.

What does it look like in real life:

  • The teams responsible for product development are guided by high-level strategic objectives or perhaps themes beneath the goals. The department’s performance is measured by achieving these strategic goals, not by the fulfilment of a set feature set of features.
  • Product is constantly listening close to the ground, observing the market, feedback from customers and other elements that could affect the direction of the product. If actionable insights are discovered, plans are adapted to meet customer and business requirements.
  • Strategic and tactical plans for a product are reviewed, revised and shared regularly to reflect new and changing discoveries. Therefore, the product has to meet the needs of executives on time and ensure that they understand the reasons behind adjustments.
12-agile-principles

Agile Principle 3

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

The Agile approach encourages breaking the product’s development down into smaller pieces and “shipping” these components. Utilizing an agile method which means making regular mini-releases for your product — can accelerate the overall development of your product.

This method of development, which is agile, involves short-term cycles of development for smaller pieces of the product, resulting in less effort in writing and reading through the huge amount of documentation required for Waterfall design and development. In addition, this frequent release method provides more opportunities for your team and you to evaluate your product concepts and plans with the highly competent stakeholders who experience every new release.

What does it look like in real life:

  • The agile development cycle, commonly known as “sprints” (or “iterations” reduces product initiatives into smaller pieces that can be completed within an agreed-upon timeframe. Most often, this period is between 2 and 4 weeks, which can be considered a sprint when you look at the marathon-like development cycles that waterfall teams typically use to follow.
  • Another alternative to rapid sprints is continuous deployment. This approach to delivering software typically works less with predetermined time frames and more on deciding what to do and how to do it.

Agile Principle 4

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

Communication is a crucial element of any team’s or project’s performance, and agile principles require that communication be an ongoing activity. As they claim, a village raises a child, and this is true for products as well.

A successful product requires knowledge from both the technical and business aspects of an organization. This will only be achieved if the two teams work together consistently. Regular communication between business personnel and developers improves collaboration by establishing confidence and trust across the entire organization.

What does it look like in real life:

  • Cross-functional agile product development teams include product people. This means that the product is included within the development teams and bridges the gap between the business and technical elements of the products.
  • The daily update meeting, also known as standups, are among the methods numerous agile companies employ to put this idea into the real world and keep everybody in touch.

Agile Principle 5

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

The most fundamental aspect of the agile approach is the ability to empower teams and individuals by establishing the concept of trust, autonomy and confidence. The agile team must be designed with care to contain the appropriate individuals and the right skills to accomplish the task. Responsibilities should be clearly defined before starting any project after the work has started. However, there is no room in agile for micromanagement or handholding.

What it will look like in the real world:

  • The product must ensure that engineering knows the strategy and needs before launching development. This is not just sharing user stories with the team across functional but also sharing the overall idea outlined in the plan of action.
  • The product is not accountable for explaining “how” an item is built. They must explain the reasons and what they are; however, it is the responsibility of the delivery team to decide the method. Additionally, during sprints, they don’t have to micromanage outcomes. Instead, they are available to answer any questions and provide assistance as necessary.

Agile Principle 6

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

With the proliferation of remote and remote developers these times, this concept is often criticized. But, at the heart of the matter, efficient communication with developers requires moving these conversations away from Slack and emails and promoting interactions with people (even in the case of conferences via video). This concept aims to inspire both developers and product managers to communicate in real-time regarding the product, its requirements, and the overall strategy that drives those requirements.

What it will look like in the real world:

  • Standup meetings every day
  • Collaboration session to groom backlogs
  • Sprint scheduling meetings
  • Frequent demos
  • Pair-programming

Agile Principle 7

“Working software is the primary measure of progress.”

The proponents of agile thinking will often insist that they are responsible for creating software, and that’s where our employees’ time should be spending it. Complete, thorough documentation isn’t as important as working software. This attitude aims to get products on the market in a short time instead of letting documentation or the “it’s not finished till it’s done” attitude create an obstacle. The best measure of the success of a product is one that customers love.

How does it appear in practice:

  • The process of designing and releasing “Minimum Viable Features” rather than feature sets that are fully developed requires considering, first and foremost, the smallest of things we could deliver to begin getting customer feedback and confirm the progress of building software.
  • A fail-fast mindset means taking action even in the uncertainty and evaluating ideas quickly.
  • Send software frequently. The best product available today is superior to an unfinished one in the future.

Agile Principle 8

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

Maintaining a busy schedule of rapid releases can strain the team, particularly if expectations are too high. Agile principles urge us to be aware of this and to set reasonable and clear expectations. The goal is to maintain high morale and improve the work-life balance to reduce burnout and decrease shifts among members of cross-functional teams.

What does it look like in real life:

  • Every sprint should be preceded by a careful assessment of the work that is possible to commit is done. Teams for development don’t over-promise regarding what they can and can’t deliver. The use of effort estimations is a common procedure for setting the output expectations of teams in development.
  • Everyone is on the same page about what needs to be completed during an event. Once a sprint is started and is completed, there is no need for additional tasks to be added unless in exceptional cases.
  • Product managers must be gatekeepers to cut down the noise generated by other stakeholders and keep from cramming additional work during an ongoing sprint.
  • Product personnel should play their part in creating a sense of psychological security in the cross-functional team, promoting open communication and feedback flow.

Agile Principle 9

“Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”

Although the agile approach encourages short cycles and frequent releases, It also focuses on keeping things tidy and neat so that they don’t create problems later. Product managers tend to forget about the development aspect since they aren’t spending all day sifting through their codebases for their products, yet it’s important for them.

What does it look like in real life:

  • The team must be aware of the technical debt and the implications for the technical debt of any new initiatives or features that are added to the backlog. Developers and product teams must collaborate to determine what constitutes technical debt and whether it is acceptable.
  • Regularly, products will require allocating development resources for the refactoring process. Refactoring is not something that can be done as an afterthought. It should be a constant consideration.

Agile Principle 10

“Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.”

You’ve probably heard about the 80/20 rule — the idea that you’ll typically get the majority of your desired outcomes with only 20% of your effort. Agile principles promote this approach by doing things that be most beneficial. In the context of managing products, this is having a focused eye on the organization’s goals and making some tough prioritization choices. Agile principles prohibit building by stressing the importance of strategic planning and building with a purpose.

What it will look like in the real world:

  • Product managers must make extremely focused decisions about their products, ensure that their product strategies align with organizational goals, and be selective about which user stories and features are essential. Utilizing prioritization methods to prioritize initiatives based on effort and expected impact is one method that teams in the product development process can use agile to develop products.
  • The short sprints, which agile is distinguished by offering a variety of possibilities for quick testing and experimentation that can make it easier to determine if initiatives will be the impact they are envisioned to have. Utilizing experiments to test ideas before bringing them to specification is an excellent method to eliminate negative ideas and find good ones.

Agile Principle 11

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

In the traditional software development methods, you’ll typically see groups shaped like pyramids where management takes the lead in making key decisions for the contributors. Agile principles advocate the utilization of self-organizing teams that employ more of a “flat” management style, where groups make decisions rather than being made by a single manager or the management team. The idea is akin to agile’s importance on teams and the interaction between tools and processes. This concept aims to enable teams to collaborate according to their needs.

How does it appear in practice:

  • Self-organizing teams are autonomous groups within an organization who have the responsibility and control of their projects and take control over their respective areas. Different organizations apply this concept differently. Spotify, for instance, utilizes “product teams” to implement this.

Find out more about managing complicated requirements in an agile environment in the video below.

The goal of using Agile is to integrate development with business needs. The effectiveness of Agile is evident. Agile projects focus on customers’ needs and encourage guidance from customers and participation. This is why Agile has evolved into an overall conception of software development across the software industry and an entire industry.

Agile Principle 12

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

If you’re truly living the agile principles, there’s no need to say, “we aren’t changing because we’ve always done things the same way.” We’re always learning more about our customers and the markets, and through the methods, we employ to discover those new things. Agile isn’t about following a strict process for each release and sprint. It’s about continual improvement. This continuous improvement must also be extended to processes and teams.

How does it appear in practice:

  • Testing and experiments are not restricted to only the product. Agile teams are encouraged to try out their procedures. It’s easy to think that you’re making progress, but try a new version of your process to find a more efficient technique. Testing your process and team is as vital as trying out the software you’re developing.
  • Regular review meetings are a chance for teams to discuss the things that went well, what didn’t go well, and what process could be modified to improve the process soon. They’re a great way for product managers and owners to determine whether they’re communicating effectively with developers and offering the necessary support before and during sprints.
  • Another point to consider concerning this principle of agility is that to apply it successfully, you must create an environment of trust and openness that promotes openness and regular feedback communication.

Summary

The 12 principles that comprise Agile will benefit your business:

  • Be flexible so that you can adjust to any developments during the process.
  • Reduce the amount of waste in your system to improve your workflow and make the end product more cost-effective
  • Concentrate on value delivery early for rapid feedback from your customers and also to get a quicker ROI for your service or product
  • Create a positive workplace where everyone is appreciated and, as a result, better helps in meeting the needs of customers.