What is Agile?
What is Agile?
The word “Agile” refers to the ability of an organism or system to adapt and respond quickly to change. Agile is often described as a project management methodology that uses short development cycles called “sprints” to focus on early value creation and continuous improvement in developing a product. But Agile is more than that. Agile is a philosophy, a mindset, and a way of working that has gained popularity in the last 20 years. It has become one of the most common ways to build products and is much more than just a buzzword or a fad. Agile is a way of helping teams self-organise so they can develop products quickly and efficiently while still meeting users needs and client budgets. Agile is a collection of principles and practices for managing product development. Agile methods emphasise iterative design, flexibility over detailed planning, client collaboration, and the ability to respond to change. In Agile, the team works in short cycles to deliver constant and regular updates to the product. The objective of Agile is to provide working products frequently and quickly, rather than trying to produce a complete product at the end of a long development cycle.
Agile methodology and frameworks
Agile methodology and frameworks are two essential concepts. Let’s look at what they are, how they differ, and how they’re used together.
Agile is a set of principles guiding how teams work together to deliver results. It’s an approach to development that emphasises collaboration and quick feedback over documentation and process, and it focuses on providing incremental builds of functionality instead of significant releases. One way to think about Agile is as a set of rules for creating high-quality products. Agile processes and methodology are all about how you work as a team—they define roles and responsibilities, set guidelines for communication and collaboration between team members, and help everyone understand their role in creating great products.
An agile framework is a specific approach to planning, managing and executing work for your team. Even though there is no single “best” agile framework, Scrum is one of the most well-known agile frameworks for teams. Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex and adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of highest possible value. If you want to learn more about the Scrum framework, we would recommend reading our article What is Scrum. Other Agile frameworks include Kanban and Extreme Programming (XP)
Agile values are the core values that guide your actions and decisions. They help you understand why you do what you do, what is important to you, and how you can make the best decisions for your organisation. There are several different sets of Agile values, but they all share a few core principles:Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: This principle recognises that while tools are important, it is vital to prioritise human beings.Working software over comprehensive documentation: This shows that teams should focus on getting things done rather than being caught up in endless planning.Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Agile aims to involve the client throughout the process. Responding to change over following a plan: You need to keep changing and adapting instead of following a plan that may not work anymore.
A good Agile project has the following advantages
Faster time to market
Agile projects are more likely to meet their deadlines than traditional projects. Delaying a project by a few months may cost hundreds of thousands of euros, but with Agile, you can expect to meet your deadlines most of the time.
In an Agile project, teams can deliver features that are wanted and needed by the customer instead of simply following a predefined road-map or outdated requirements document.
More customer satisfaction
When customers have more control over the development process and can see progress in real-time, they become more satisfied with their results. In addition, customers can provide feedback on what they like and don’t like about each iteration so that future iterations can be improved accordingly.
Significant cost savings over traditional methods
There is no doubt that traditional methods lead to higher costs in terms of staff and overhead expenses compared with Agile methods. However, this varies depending on your organisation's size and culture. For example, if your organisation has a culture does not support continual improvement nor empowering employees, then it may be harder for them to adopt Agile practices than other organisations that have been doing so for years already.
Improved quality assurance
Agile teams work closely with business stakeholders to understand what they need in terms of functionality and how it will be used by end-users. As a result, there is little need for extensive testing because any defects can be addressed before the product goes live.
Agile encourages creative problem solving because team members are encouraged to think outside the box and develop solutions that better meet customer needs.
Increased employee satisfaction
When employees are given autonomy over their work and are rewarded based on their performance, they feel more motivated and satisfied with their jobs.
In general terms, Agile methodologies are all about creating fast-moving teams where everyone feels ownership over their work and takes responsibility for delivering high-quality products quickly. Our founders at Better Change were among the first who implemented agile approaches on an enterprise level in Denmark, and among the first in the world who took agile approaches beyond software development. At Better Change we can help you create a successful Agile transformation, furnish cross-functional teams with the right skills and abilities, and help you establish an effective Agile mindset.