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Agile basics

Agile methodology steps

by Simon Buehring
Master the steps of the Agile methodology in this step-by-step guide to improve your Agile team's productivity.
Agile Methodology Steps | agileKRC

Introduction to the Agile methodology

Agile has revolutionised the way teams approach project management and product development.

Agile methodology is a set of principles and practices that encourage a continuous, iterative approach to creating and improving a product. Teams repeat a series of steps throughout the lifecycle of a project, adapting and evolving their work based on feedback and changing requirements.

The Agile methodology steps described here are typically iterative in nature, but there are additional preliminary activities required to set the stage for a successful Agile process.

Defining the product vision

On Agile projects, before iterating through the core Agile steps, the product vision must be defined.

The responsibility for creating the product vision rests with someone from the business side. This person might be called the Product Owner if using Scrum, product manager, business visionary, or any other title.

The product vision sets out the purpose and direction of the product and ensures everyone is aligned on the desired outcomes. The product vision will guide the subsequent creation and prioritisation of the product backlog, which is a list of features, changes, fixes, and enhancements that are planned for the product.

Product backlog refinement

The iterative Agile process often begins with refining the product backlog. This is an ongoing step throughout the project, where the team regularly reviews and prioritises backlog items, ensuring that the most important tasks are ready for upcoming iterations.

What happens during refinement?

  • Product owner and team collaborate to clarify each item.
  • Backlog items are estimated regarding complexity and effort required.
  • Discussion of acceptance criteria to meet the definition of ‘done’.

This step is crucial for maintaining an organised and focused direction for the project.

Iteration planning

Each iteration (or sprint if the team is using Scrum) kicks off with iteration planning. In this step, the team selects which items from the product backlog will be tackled during the next iteration. The goal is to commit to work that can be completed within the iteration timebox, typically one to four weeks.

What does iteration planning involve?

  • Determining the iteration goal, which is a concise statement of what the iteration should achieve.
  • Defining tasks and allocating them to team members.
  • Ensuring there is a clear understanding of what successful completion of each task entails.

Effective iteration planning sets the stage for a productive iteration.

Iteration execution

Once the iteration begins, the team works on executing the tasks they have committed to. Execution is an active, dynamic step where development and testing happen concurrently to create working increments of the product.

Key components of iteration execution

  • Team members work on their individual tasks while supporting each other.
  • The team synchronises regularly to ensure alignment and collaboration.
  • Obstacles are identified and addressed promptly.

This step is about transforming the iteration plan into a tangible increment of the product.

Daily stand-up

A critical part of the iteration is the daily stand-up, a short meeting where the team synchronises on progress and highlights any impediments to their work.

Focus of daily stand-ups

  • What each team member accomplished since the last stand-up.
  • What they plan to work on until the next one.
  • Challenges that are preventing progress.

Daily stand-ups maintain momentum and ensure transparency within the team.

Continuous collaboration

Agile emphasises continuous collaboration, not just amongst team members but with stakeholders and customers as well.

Collaboration activities

  • Regularly integrating and testing the product.
  • Seeking and incorporating stakeholder feedback.
  • Adapting plans based on new insights or shifts in the market.

Through collaboration, the Agile team ensures that they remain on track and aligned with user needs and business goals.

Iteration review

At the end of each iteration, the team presents the completed work to stakeholders in the iteration review meeting. This is an opportunity to showcase progress in the form of a product increment, gather insights, and determine if the iteration goal has been achieved.

Outcomes of the iteration review

  • Demonstrating working features and discussing their value.
  • Collecting feedback to inform future development.
  • Adjusting the product backlog based on stakeholder input.

The review is a critical feedback loop that shapes the direction of future work.

Iteration retrospective

After the review, the team holds an iteration retrospective to reflect on the iteration process and identify areas for improvement.

Key retrospective actions

  • Discussing what worked well and what didn’t.
  • Agreeing on actionable steps to improve the next iteration.
  • Celebrating successes and learning from challenges.

The retrospective ensures that the team continues to grow and continuously improve its process.

Next iteration planning

With insights from the review and retrospective, the team moves into planning the next iteration. Lessons learned are incorporated, and the cycle of refinement, planning, execution, review, and retrospection begins anew.

Transitioning to the next iteration

  • Refining the backlog with fresh information and priorities.
  • Selecting new backlog items based on the updated product vision and stakeholder feedback.
  • Preparing for another cycle of focused, efficient work.

As the team progresses through these Agile methodology steps, they develop not only the product but also their process, optimising their workflow and deepening their understanding of what delivers the most value to their customers.


The Agile methodology steps described here provide a framework for teams to produce value incrementally and respond to change swiftly.

By understanding and mastering these steps, teams can improve their effectiveness and create products that truly meet the needs of their customers. Each step is an opportunity to continuously learn and adapt, ensuring that Agile teams remain innovative and efficient, and deliver products which satisfy customer requirements.

Learn from agile leaders

agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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