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Agile Manifesto Values and Principles

As many Agile organizations have evolved over recent times, many professionals must understand Agile in a more precise manner as it would make them have an advantage over their peers. Agile Methodology is followed using a set of values and principles called Agile Manifesto Values and principles. Knowing about these principles would help professionals understand how Agile functions and why certain rules are followed during product development in various Agile frameworks. Agile Manifesto is a guide to any individual who wants to learn more about Agile Methodology, and knowing it thoroughly would give them an upper hand while working on various projects; and moreover help to embrace an Agile mindset. Companies that have adopted the Agile Methodology make it a crucial point for their members to know about the Agile Manifesto along with the twelve principles of Agile Software. This article sheds light on the definition and history of Agile Manifesto values and principles and also elaborates on these values which have to be known by Agile professionals. 

What is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto, created in 2001, sets out the key values and principles behind the Agile philosophy and serves to help development teams work more efficiently and sustainably.

The Agile Manifesto reads as following:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

“That is, while there is value in the items on

the right, we value the items on the left more.”

The Four Values of Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto is a guide that consists of four foundational values along with twelve supporting principles that establish the groundwork for the Agile approach for software or any product development. Agile Methodology has many frameworks that work differently but all of these frameworks apply these four values and twelve principles. All the frameworks rely on the Agile Manifesto and guide the development and delivery of high-quality, working software. Let us look at these four values of the Agile Manifesto in detail.

1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools

This is the first value in the Agile Manifesto which emphasizes valuing people more highly than the tools or processes. The value essentially explains that it is important to value the people working in the organization more than the high technology tools or processes as it is the people who respond to the business needs and carry the development process forward. Any organization that values its technology and process more than the people that work in that process is sure to face complications in the future. Such teams are less responsive to change and are less likely to meet the needs of the customer. Communication, in processes, should be scheduled and requires specific content. However, in the case of individuals, communication is fluid that flows smoothly and coordinates all the work that needs to be done to complete a specific project. This value becomes one of the crucial values in Agile processes as it is the people of the organization that make or break the company. To be a successful company, all members of every department must be equally involved and respected. Their collaboration and understanding during product development reflect on the company’s performance and productivity. 

When people do not understand a new technology introduced in the company, it becomes essential for the leaders to teach the employees. Also, when all the work processes are left upon merely on the advent of new technology, the company takes a heavier risk. The company’s primary aim should be to educate and empower members with new skills and help them discover their inner potential. This would make the people gain more technical and emotional intelligence and produce productive results in the projects they are working on. Overall, this value implies that the people of the organization, their interactions with everyone, and their collaboration should be at a higher priority than new tools and technology introduced in the company. 

2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation

In traditional methodologies, priority was always given to documentation of the product that was about to be developed and delivered. This process had consumed an enormous amount of time as it included the documentation of technical requirements, technical specifications, interface design documents, documentation plans, test plans, technical prospectus, and approvals required. The number of items that is documented before a product could even start developing is extensive and caused several delays in the development process. Documentation of the product development seemed time-consuming but it is also important to keep the record of the project being worked on. Hence, Agile formed a solution for this issue and implied that if the documentation could be streamlined in a way that would give developers what is exactly required to do at the moment, then it seemed less time consuming and more productive. Agile does not fully eliminate the process of documentation in this way and the developers do not have to get confused in the documentation fully and get bogged before even starting to develop the product. This method would justify that Agile values working software more than the comprehensive documentation. The requirements in Agile are documented in the form of user stories and epics which are adequate for the developers to start building their new function. This value insinuates that Agile Methodology values software that is functional and could be demonstrated over the documentation which is lengthy and time-consuming.

3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation

In the waterfall methodology, it is seen that the customer negotiates the requirements of the product with the Project Manager in greater detail before starting the product development. Here negotiation is the time when the customer and the Product Manager find out common ground and work through the details of the delivery. This meant that the client was only involved at the beginning of the development and after the product was completed, but was not included during the development process. This seemed to affect the customer satisfaction rate as customers could not estimate the progress of the product.

However, when it comes to collaboration in Agile Methodology, it is a completely different scenario. The Agile Manifesto explains that the customer is engaged throughout the process of the development and can easily track the progress of the project. Agile Methodology uses an iterative and incremental approach that helps the customers to give feedback to Product Increments and satisfy their needs from the products. Flexibility in Agile is also a benefit for the customers as changes can be easily accommodated in the product and the customer need not wait till the whole product is completed. This method helps the developers to meet the needs of the customer and also developers can have periodic demos to confirm whether the required product is being developed. In some cases, projects also include an end-user to be a regular part of the Scrum Team who attends meetings and ensures that the product meets the needs of the client’s business. Overall, this value infers that Agile Methodology values collaboration and communication of customers which would enhance customer satisfaction over negotiating the product features with the customers. 

4. Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Change was treated as something that would hinder the project in the traditional software development, hence changes in the product roadmap were avoided by maximum developers. The traditional software development treated all the features with high priority and did not arrange the features in any order. They planned to develop elaborated and detailed strategies for the products with specific sets of features which deliver dependencies such that the Development Team could work on further puzzles.  

The Twelve Principles of Agile Manifesto

“The Agile Movement” includes the twelve guiding principles that are incorporated in all Agile Methodologies. These principles describe an environment where change is an important part and is welcomed and the clients or the customers remain the work’s primary focus. Alistair Cockburn who is a signatory of the Agile Manifesto, describes the Agile Movement intends to align development according to the business needs. The following are the twelve principles of Agile development listed in the Agile Manifesto:

  • The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software

This principle indicates that the customers are satisfied when working software is delivered at a regular interval rather than having them wait for an extended period between releases. As Agile involves the users and customers throughout the process, this customer validation is an essential factor in the product development process.

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

As stated, the development process should accommodate changes and should avoid delays when change for a feature or requirements are requested. 

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

Since Scrum functions by software iterations and Sprints, it ensures that valuable and working software is delivered and incorporates this principle. 

  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project

When all the members of the project communicate efficiently better decisions could be made along with the alignment of the business and technical team. 

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

This principle ensures that motivated teams perform better in product development contrary to unhappy teams.

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

When development teams are co-located, communication is more successful. 

  • Working software is the primary measure of progress

The ultimate factor that measures progress is delivering functional software to the customers. 

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

When teams work with the frameworks using Agile Methodology, they could maintain a repeatable and maintainable speed where valuable software could be released at each interval.

  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility

The correct skills and great designs makes sure that the team could maintain a constant pace, and improve the product and sustain changes. 

  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential

The developers have to build just enough features to get the job done right now.

  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams

When the Agile team is self-organizing, they can make decisions correctly, and communicate regularly with other team members. They also encourage all the members to brainstorm ideas that could deliver quality products.

  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

Process improvement, self-improvement, advancing skills, and techniques have aided the team members to work more efficiently. 

Conclusion

Agile Manifesto is a set of values and principles that every organization employs. These values make the organization different from their previous versions where they employed the traditional software methodologies. Each professional is required to know these values and principles to comprehend the working of Agile Methodology. Also, organizations should thoroughly understand and implement these values and principles in their company to make sure that they are able to create value for stakeholders. The entire intention of Agile Methodology is to align the development process with the business needs hence ensuring the success of Agile. These values imply that Agile projects are customer-focused and encourage the guidance and participation of customers. Hence, by following these values and principles, Agile has become one of the overarching views of software development in the information technology industry.

References:

https://agilemanifesto.org/iso/en/principles.html
https://www.scrumalliance.org/resources/agile-manifesto
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