What Is Agile?

Agile is a method of organizing, planning, creating, releasing and maintaining products that allows companies to effectively respond to risks, changes and uncertainty.

Written by Anthony Corbo
Published on Dec. 15, 2021
What Is Agile?
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Jeff Hurd | Aug 11, 2022

Agile methodology revolves around creating prototypes that are performed in repeating cycles, with a priority on creating a usable product or feature rather than comprehensive documentation and multiple cycles of continuous customer interaction to improve the product. Agile is modeled after the Agile Manifesto, which includes a set of 12 principles and four values created in 2001.

What is agile in simple terms?

  • Agile is a project development process that includes the product’s development, customer involvement, iteration and learning to enhance future projects.

The agile product development process can involve many stakeholders and several departments working simultaneously, but in a streamlined fashion. This is due to the fact that agile lays out a set of roles and processes that are followed in order to ensure a product is developed on top and with efficient resources. However, agile is also designed to account for new information, meaning that even if the roles and processes are strict, the actual product being developed may come about differently than initially intended.

Product development is where the initial plan is created and the product begins moving to execution. Here, all objectives are communicated, goals are set, roles are assumed and development teams go to work building the first iteration of the product. Once an iteration is complete, customers can begin interacting with the prototype to provide feedback, communicate product goals and other feature ideas. That feedback is then used to build the next iteration of the product, with teams dividing larger work into smaller tasks to build and test the updated product efficiently. The updated iteration then goes through another round of customer involvement to receive additional feedback for the next batch of changes, with the cycle repeating. Finally, teams reflect on the feedback submitted and the product’s evolution from ideation to the current iteration so processes can be continually improved.

What are the four agile values?

  • The Agile Manifesto established four main values programmers and product development teams should follow when in an Agile project environment.

These four values include: individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and responding to change over following a plan. These four values are described further in the 12 agile principles.

Agile’s four values enable product managers and software engineers to ensure the project’s overall goal is the North Star that guides the project to completion, regardless of any changing factors or existing processes that may interfere. Change is always welcomed in agile, particularly when in response to customer feedback. agile’s values also make it clear that working, usable software should always be the priority, and that no documentation processes should get in the way. Finally, the agile values also prioritize collaboration, ensuring the software that best fulfills the ultimate goal is the project’s end result.

Why is it called a scrum?

  • Scrum is an agile framework that prioritizes set roles, collaboration, the creation of multiple iterations and responses to user feedback.

The term Scrum was first used in the 1986 paper, “The New New Product Development Game,” written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. The two were influenced to use the term by the game of rugby in order to communicate the importance of teamwork in efficient product development. 

Scrum is a framework for following Agile methodology that utilizes a series of interlocking steps and set team roles to produce several iterations of a product in response to user feedback and changing information. When following scrum, an agile product owner will create a project backlog, which is a set of prioritized tasks that encompass the project’s ultimate goal. Team members then break that backlog into smaller projects called a sprint backlog, this sets tasks for the next two-to-four weeks. Scrum masters regularly check-in on sprints during daily scrum meetings, taking note of progress and managing tasks to keep the team focused on the goal. This is repeated every day until the scrum ends, and the team is ready to review and ship their work. At that point, the next sprint will begin.

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