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Agile Basics

The 12 Agile principles

by agilekrc
Uncover the power of Agile with 12 key principles — read more to revolutionise your project delivery.
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Introduction

The impact of agile on software development has been revolutionary. Today, the fundamental principles of agility serve as the foundation for all agile development practices and methodologies. When properly applied, the 12 agile principles can effectively address the common issues encountered in traditional projects, such as late delivery and quality problems.

In essence, agile is built upon 4 essential values and 12 guiding principles and are described in the Agile Manifesto. While the values provide a broad overview of the agile approach and aid in directing agile processes, the 12 principles offer specific examples of how to apply agility. These principles are vital to the success of any agile project and can even inspire non-agile teams. As such, they form an integral part of all our agile training courses.

The twelve principles

The 12 Agile Principles are the cornerstone of the Agile methodology, and they inform everything that people do on Agile projects. In this article, we will explore these 12 principles and how they shape Agile projects.

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

The first Agile principle is customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

This principle focuses on delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) that meets the customer’s requirements and can be delivered in a short period of time.

By delivering a working product early, the customer can provide feedback on the software’s functionality and identify any changes that need to be made. This ensures that the final product meets the customer’s expectations and is delivered on time.

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

The second Agile principle is to welcome changing requirements, even in late development.

This principle acknowledges that requirements can change during the development process, and the Agile methodology is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate these changes.

By embracing change, the team can ensure that the final product meets the customer’s evolving needs.

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

The third Agile principle is to deliver working software frequently, with a preference for shorter timescales.

This principle focuses on delivering small, incremental changes to the software at regular intervals, rather than waiting until the end of the development cycle to deliver the final product.

By doing this, the team can ensure that the software is tested and validated at each stage of the development process, which reduces the risk of delays and errors.

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

The fourth Agile principle is to collaborate with customers and stakeholders throughout the project.

This principle emphasises the importance of constant communication and feedback between the team, the customer, and other stakeholders.

By working closely with the customer, the team can ensure that the software meets their needs and expectations, and by involving stakeholders in the process, the team can ensure that the software meets broader business goals and objectives.

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

The fifth Agile principle is to build projects around motivated individuals, give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

This principle focuses on creating a supportive environment where team members can work independently, take ownership of their work, and collaborate effectively with others.

By empowering individuals and trusting them to make decisions, the team can achieve better results.

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

The sixth Agile principle is that the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

This principle acknowledges that communication is a critical component of all Agile methods, and that face-to-face communication is the most effective way to share information, resolve issues, and make decisions.

7.    Working software is the primary measure of progress.

The seventh Agile principle is that working software is the primary measure of progress.

This principle emphasises the importance of delivering a working product at each stage of the development process.

By measuring progress based on the software’s functionality, the team can ensure that they are delivering value to the customer and meeting project goals.

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

The eighth Agile principle is that Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

This principle recognises that the development process should be sustainable and that the team should be able to maintain a steady pace over an extended period.

By avoiding long hours and burnout, the team can maintain a high level of productivity and continue to deliver high-quality software over the long term.

9.    Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

The ninth Agile principle is that continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. This principle emphasises the importance of technical excellence and good design in the development process.

By focusing on these aspects, the team can ensure that the software is maintainable, scalable, and robust, which enhances its agility and ability to meet changing requirements.

10.    Simplicity – the art of maximising the amount of work not done – is essential.

The tenth Agile principle is that simplicity – the art of maximising the amount of work not done – is essential.

This principle encourages the team to focus on the essentials and avoid unnecessary work.

By minimising the amount of work that needs to be done, the team can reduce waste, increase efficiency, and deliver the product faster.

11.    The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.

The eleventh Agile principle is that the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.

This principle recognises that the team is the best source of knowledge and expertise when it comes to software development.

By empowering the team to make decisions and work together, the team can create better solutions that meet the customer’s needs.

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

The twelfth and final Agile principle is that at regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

This principle emphasises the importance of continuous improvement and feedback in the development process.

By regularly evaluating their performance and identifying areas for improvement, the team can enhance their efficiency, effectiveness, and overall quality of work.

Informing Agile ways of working

The 12 Agile principles provide a framework for the development process and inform everything that people do on Agile projects. From planning and development to testing and delivery, the principles guide every step of the process, ensuring that the team is delivering a high-quality product that meets the customer’s needs.

For example, the first principle, customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software, informs the way the team plans and develops the product. The team focuses on delivering a minimum viable product that meets the customer’s requirements and can be delivered in a short period. By delivering the product early, the team can obtain feedback from the customer and adjust the product as necessary.

Similarly, the fourth principle, collaborate with customers and stakeholders throughout the project, guides the way the team communicates with the customer and other stakeholders. By involving them in the development process, the team can ensure that the product meets their needs and aligns with broader business objectives.

The sixth principle, the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation, informs the way the team communicates with each other. The team prioritises face-to-face communication to ensure that information is shared effectively and that any issues or questions can be resolved quickly.

The twelfth principle, at regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour, accordingly, guides the team’s continuous improvement efforts. The team regularly evaluates their performance, identifies areas for improvement, and adjusts their behaviour to enhance their efficiency, effectiveness, and overall quality of work.

Summary

The 12 Agile principles are the foundations of Agile and inform everything that people do on Agile projects. These principles provide a framework for the development process, ensuring that the team delivers high-quality software that meets the customer’s needs and aligns with broader business objectives. By focusing on collaboration, communication, feedback, and continuous improvement, Agile teams can enhance their agility, productivity, and overall effectiveness.

The Agile principles also emphasise the importance of adaptability and flexibility, which is critical in a fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. By prioritising customer satisfaction, early and continuous delivery, and rapid response to change, Agile teams can create solutions that meet the customer’s needs and adapt to changing requirements.

The 12 Agile principles provide a solid foundation for all Agile methods and approaches and inform everything that people do on Agile projects. The principles emphasise collaboration, communication, feedback, and continuous improvement, which are critical in creating high-quality software that meets the customer’s needs and adapts to changing requirements.

By following these principles, Agile teams can enhance their agility, productivity, and overall effectiveness, and create solutions that deliver real value to the customer and the broader business.

Infographic

Agile principles infographic

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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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