Agile Software Development Key Concepts, Manifesto, and Principles
Agile is a series of methods and practices where solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional and self-organized teams.
Agile is a mindset created from the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto, which provide guidance on how to create and respond to change and how to deal with uncertainty.
The authors of the Agile Manifesto chose the word “Agile” because this word represents adaptability and response to change, which were properties important to their approach. Agile development is a way to cope with uncertain and turbulent environments successfully.
It may sound like improvisation but, on a day-to-day basis, it is more to be focused on the pending tasks, the solutions we need, and the process to reach those solutions. It is a kind of technological pragmatism, where we know what is happening in the project, the steps to follow, and the decisions needed to solve it and deliver a finished product.
Agile is really about analyzing and understanding what is going on in your environment today, exploring what uncertainties we may encounter, and discovering how we can adapt as we move forward.
The first line of the Agile Manifesto encapsulates the whole idea of agile software development: “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”
When faced with uncertainty, try something that might work, receive feedback, and adjust actions according to the expected solution.
If the values and principles are kept in mind when working, the context can guide us towards what frameworks, practices, and techniques can be applied to collaborate with the team and add value to our clients.
What are Agile Methodologies
A methodology is a series of conventions that a team agrees to follow. Each team may have its own methodology, which may differ from what is working on other small or medium-scale teams.
Agile methodologies are the conventions that the team decides to develop to follow the Agile values and principles.
It is entirely likely that at this point, you are wondering: “I believed that Scrum was an Agile methodology?”. Although Scrum was born as a team methodology, it became a framework when it was generalized and used by other teams. So Scrum can be part of a methodology, but it IS NOT the methodology: it is a framework that fits depending on the context of each project.
The most used Agile methodologies are:
Lean software development
Dynamic systems development method
If you want to read more about Agile frameworks, you can do it here.
Agile Software Development
Agile Software Development is an umbrella term for a series of frameworks and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 Principles behind it. Working in this way anticipates the need for flexibility and applies a level of pragmatism in delivering the finished product.
When we approach software development in this particular way, it is generally good to live by these values and principles and use them to help decide the right things to do in a given context or setting.
12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto
Below are the guiding practices that support teams in implementing and executing with agility.
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
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.
Agile software development is more than practices like pair programming, test-driven development, stand-ups, planning sessions, and sprints. It is more than frameworks like Scrum, Extreme Programming, or Feature-Driven Development (FDD). Agile focuses more on the people doing the work and how they work together. Solutions evolve through team collaboration using best practices based on context.
When a team is collaborative and self-organized, it does not mean that there are no managers. The teams have the ability to figure out how they are going to handle things on their own.
Managers are responsible for ensuring that team members have or can obtain the right skills for the project. They also help create the environment in which the team will be successful. Their job is also to let their teams figure out how to deliver the requirements or products and show up and guide when teams try but can’t solve problems.
When most teams and organizations start Agile Software Development, they focus on practices that help with collaboration and organization of work. Another series of equally essential practices are techniques directly related to software development so that teams manage to face uncertainty and achieve new solutions in the technical part.
Key Agile Concepts
Although we would like to make a complete glossary of technical terms and concepts, these are the main ones to understand Agile.
Team. A “team,” in the Agile sense, is a small group of people assigned to the same project full-time. This group of people needs to have the necessary skills and requirements to carry out the entire project.
Daily Meetings or Stand-Ups. Every day the team meets to update everyone on vital information for the project; each team member briefly describes the tasks at hand, what they have completed, and any obstacles in their way.
User Stories. The team divides the work into functional increments called “user stories.” Each user story will contribute, once implemented, to the value of the product as a whole.
Personas. When user experience is an essential factor in delivering a project, the team creates a detailed biography of fictitious users who will use the final product in the future: these characters are called “personas.”
Incremental Development. In an Agile context, this means that each successive version of the product is usable, and each builds on the previous version by adding user-visible functionality.
Iterative Development. Agile projects intentionally allow the “replication” of software development activities and potentially “revisiting” the products of those development activities.
Milestone Retrospective. Once the project is underway, the team spends some time in a detailed analysis of all the significant events of the project. It helps to improve processes and avoid old mistakes. This process can also happen at the end of the project.
An Agile Software Development Team
Agile teams are multidisciplinary, composed of diverse people with the right skills to get the job done. Because the focus is on delivering working software, the team has to complete end-to-end functioning applications. To do this, the team members have to collaborate. They frequently meet to ensure everyone is aligned on what they are building, who is doing what, and exactly how the software is developed.
In addition to developers, software development teams can include quality assurance (QA) engineers, databases or back-end developers, designers, and analysts, depending on the type of software project.
An Agile Software Developer
An Agile software developer focuses on sustainable development rather than being the hero.
This sustainability is about reasonable estimates, practical strategies for code development, automated testing to meet quality requirements, and continuous deployment to get faster user feedback.
Adopting this all-agile mindset takes a lot of discipline on a personal level. But in addition to this, the work culture within the company must unite, follow and support teams, from training to building them with the best talent and best technical skills.
As an Agile software developer, you will have the freedom and responsibility to develop software sustainably while maintaining a great relationship with the team and the company.
Suppose you want to be part of an agile software development team. In that case, you can visit our careers page and see our open positions, which range from app development, back-end, front-end developers, and specific technologies.
And suppose the development of agile software and applications is within your company’s plans. In that other case, you can review our nearshoring and staff augmentation services, as well as the customized development service for your project.
Agile is about teamwork: developers build strong relationships with project, design, QA, and operations managers because creating or sustainably developing software means being connected to all stages of project development.
Things to remember
When you take the aggregate of agile principles, implement them in an agile framework, leverage collaboration tools, and adopt agile development practices, you usually get better-quality and faster-developed applications and better technical methods.
The core reason is that agile works for flexibility and adaptability. You don’t define all the answers up front as you do in other methodologies but break the problem into digestible components that you then develop and test with users.
If something isn’t working well or as expected, or if the ongoing work reveals something new to consider, you can adapt the steps quickly to get back on track or even change paths if that’s what’s needed. Agile lets each team member contribute to the solution, and it requires that each takes personal responsibility for their work.
Today, businesses need high software competency to deliver exceptional digital experiences in a competitive world. To do so, they need to attract and keep great talent to build great software is a priority. Agile development helps businesses do both.