Agile Methodology Core Principles

Agile Methodology Core Principles

To understand why Agile principles took the project management world by storm, we must look into the prevailing situation when they arose. Essentially, the principles of Agile methodology were devised by developers who were frustrated by the slow and inefficient development process of the day.

There was a huge time lag between customers requesting features for a software or application and the actual delivery of the same. This was largely down to inefficiencies in production. The answer to this was the Agile Manifesto. This document highlights how developers felt project management should proceed.

At its heart, Agile methodology core principles insisted on managing projects by dividing the tasks into several smaller tasks. In this way, each stage would add to the work done so far, and constant collaboration would allow the developers to improve the product in each phase.

In total, there are 4 values and 12 key principles of the Agile methodology. Let’s take a look at what these are.
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The 4 Values of Agile Methodology Core Principles

  • Prioritize individuals and interactions over tools and processes. This is easy enough to understand. Anyone who has ever worked in an organization would know that it often feels like people are incidental to the whole process. The process itself receives far more attention, even though the individuals and their collaboration make everything work.
  • Re-evaluate the importance of documentation. This is less of a problem these days, but back in the day when application and software development was still a growing field, there was what many people felt a frustratingly high level of emphasis on documentation. Developers felt that more time was spent documenting the various aspects of the work rather than creating the actual product that they signed on to produce. The need for detailed documentation of all sorts meant that the work would first need to be reviewed and approved before it could actually be done. One can imagine the delays that such a bureaucratic system would produce.
  • Constant communication with the customer. This value is one of the main reasons that Scrum has been a resounding success as a methodology. In the past, the customer would meet with the team before and after the production process. The individuals behind the Agile manifesto understood that the customer needs to be involved as much as possible during the process. This is to ensure that the product or service meets their needs in the end. They could also offer feedback and suggest changes while the product was still being developed rather than at the end when everything would have to be revisited.
  • Flexibility is another key facet of the Agile methodology. In the past, the need for extensive documentation was dictated by the belief that changes to the final product should be minimized. This is because changes would be costly. However, Agile principles necessitate that a product would go through several iterations before being approved by the client. This reduces the need for extensive documentation in the beginning and prioritizes flexibility to change during production.

The 12 Principles of Agile

Let us now take a look at the 12 Agile principles that drive the methodology and create the culture that most organizations are using to succeed today.
  1. The very first agile principle restructures the entire process of project management to place the customer at the center. Customer satisfaction is ensured via continuous and early delivery. The product is broken down into several parts and delivered to the customer for review.
  2. Flexibility is valued above all else. In contrast to the methodologies of the past, Agile principles do not fear change. Regardless of the stage of development, changes to the product are welcomed openly to ensure that the best possible iteration of the product reaches the client.
  3. Frequent delivery is also a key facet of the Agile methodology. This is complementary to the incremental delivery that the process follows as well.
  4. Constant and proactive collaboration and communication among all stakeholders. This agile principle ensures that all individuals concerned with the project and the product are up-to-date with every aspect of the development.
  5. Support for the individuals in charge of production. This Agile principle recognizes that individuals will face many challenges during development and that the organization needs to support them in any way possible.
  6. Facilitate in-person conversations whenever possible. Given the flexible nature of the Agile methodology, communication is key. The authors of the manifesto recognized that face-to-face communication is essential for the success of the overall process.
  7. Progress should be measured primarily based on the effectiveness of the software. If the software doesn’t work, then all other measures of success are irrelevant.
  8. Standardization is encouraged when it comes to timelines and the pace at which the product is developed. This means that even if something can be rushed, given that this pace cannot be sustained, the timeline should be adjusted to reflect a more maintainable pace.
  9. Emphasis on good design and technical detail ensures that delivery and quality can be standardized over a prolonged time and ultimately create client satisfaction.
  10. Simplicity is preferred since any feature can always be improved later in further iterations. As long as the design and application work, it doesn’t matter how simple it is.
  11. Teams should be carefully constructed with individuals who take ownership of their work and motivate themselves. They should be supported by granting them independence and decision-making powers.
  12. Self-reflection is the final and most important Agile principle. There should be frequent reflection on the team’s processes and how tasks can be managed more efficiently.

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