Agile is an approach to software development wherein the project goes through incremental updates throughout its life cycle.

Whenever a piece of software goes out to market, it’s rare for a product to be 100% free of bugs. As such, a segment of your customers can run into software issues that prevent them from having full access to all of your product’s features. 

Agile software development seeks to address this issue. With the agile method, development is streamlined and introduces increased collaboration. This can better manage bug fixes and allows for frequent update rollouts. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the principles of agile software development and explore their principles. 

What is Agile Product Management? 

Agile is an iterative approach to software development and project management that seeks to improve collaboration among team members and speed up delivery time to customers. In agile software development, development remains ongoing even when the product is in the customer’s hands. 

Agile development contrasts with a one-and-done launch, where development stops as soon as the software hits the market. As long as there is room for improvement, agile software development continues working on the software.

One company to learn from is the Playstation Network. Before adopting the Scaled Agile framework, the company used a mix of waterfall and agile development across multiple teams. This caused disruptions and delays in the company’s release schedule. 

The company implemented the Scaled Agile framework throughout all divisions, which helped organize and streamline their development cycle. They, therefore, reduced planning downtime by 28%, and it saved the company approximately $30 million/year. 

To better understand the agile methodology, you need to understand its core principles. 

The 12 Principles of Agile

These 12 principles serve as a framework to help teams adopt the agile methodology: 

  1. Promote customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome change, even late in development. 
  3. Deliver working software in a short time frame—weeks instead of months. 
  4. Promote collaboration between management and developers. 
  5. Assign motivated team members as project leads and cultivate their strengths through a creative environment.
  6. Prioritize face-to-face interactions between team members.
  7. Measure success by delivering working customers working software. 
  8. Promote sustainable development. Work pace should be consistent and frequent. 
  9. Focus on technical excellence, and good design promotes agility. 
  10. Promote simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done. 
  11. Foster self-organizing teams to create the best architectures, requirements, and designs. 
  12. Reflect on how to become a more effective team, and adjust accordingly.

When we look at these 12 principles, we can see the driving force behind the agile methodology. The mindset focuses on delivering users increasingly more value through continuous product improvements. To do this, teams work together collaboratively and consistently.

To boil it down, there are four themes behind these 12 principles: 

  1. Customer-first - Proper application of agile software development requires delivering a product to customers as soon as possible. However, the same process applies to providing updates and fixes. If customers request quality of life adjustments or bug fixes, address them immediately. 
  2. Collaboration - Teamwork is an essential aspect of agile management. With cooperation, software development becomes more efficient. 
  3. Iteration - Software development isn’t structured as a single task. Work is broken down into separate steps to work towards a completed project. 
  4. Responding to change - The agile methodology puts focus on flexibility. Addressing issues and adjusting accordingly is more important than following a plan.

Through the agile methodology, software development becomes a flexible process that can release the product out to the market while addressing customer feedback. That is essential in this day and age if you want to outrank your competitors. 

Application of Agile

Now that we’ve established agile software development goals, how can you adopt it for your workplace? To give you an idea of what the agile methodology can do for your team, here are some examples. 

What is a Scrum?

Scrum is an application of the agile methodology. The scrum framework seeks to create software through an incremental process while delivering value to the customer throughout the process. 

What are the Roles on a Scrum Team?

In a scrum team, each member has a specific role to fill. Below are the designations within a scrum team and what tasks they need to accomplish.  

  • Scrum master - They are the team leader and are responsible for managing the scrum. It’s their job to ensure that the scrum is on schedule and is in charge of guiding, teaching, and supervising the team. 
  • Team members - The ones responsible for creating the technical aspects of the software. They work together to complete the tasks they commit to during the scrum. 
  • Product owner - They represent the company’s stakeholders and end-users. It’s their responsibility to communicate the project’s goals to every member of the scrum and manage the business side of the project.

The Components of a Scrum

A scrum can be broken down into phases. Each phase will break down the work into more manageable, individual tasks that the team will complete throughout a scrum.

Here are the components of a scrum:    

  • Product Backlog - The product backlog is a list that compiles all the features that need to be implemented to satisfy customers. The product owner will decide on the elements of a product backlog. They will also determine the priority of the elements. 
  • Sprint Backlog - The sprint backlog is a component of the product backlog. The sprint backlog is a list created by the team to establish what work will be completed during each sprint. 
  • Increment - The increment is the sum of all tasks developed during a sprint. 

How Does a Scrum Work?

Now that we’ve grasped the roles of each team member and the structure of a scrum, let’s discuss how a scrum works. A scrum works by breaking down the entire project into easily digested tasks that you will progressively work on as development continues. 

Below, we see how a workday is broken-down during a scrum project.  

  • Sprint - This is the basic unit of a scrum. The work conducted towards completing the project is part of the sprint. 
  • Sprint planning - This is a meeting held before each sprint event. During the sprint planning, the goals of the upcoming sprint are decided, and deadlines will be adjusted. 
  • Daily Scrum - The daily scrum is a meeting held during a daily sprint. Its purpose is to adjust goals and synchronize progress across team members. Additionally, team members need to assess the work completed yesterday and the work to be done today. The scrum master also needs to assist the team if any problems arise. 
  • Sprint Review - A sprint review analyzes the team’s completed work against the deadlines set for the product backlog. 
  • Sprint Retrospective - A look back at the work completed at the end of the sprint. The team needs to reflect on the quality of work, the good and the bad aspects, to refine the process for future sprints. 

The scrum framework is an example of agile software development in work. 

Agile: A Mindset to Facilitate Software Development

A product developed through the agile methodology allows value to land quickly in the customer’s hands. But it doesn’t end there. An agile development team can quickly deliver updates throughout the product life-cycle, boosting customer experience and satisfaction for years to come. 

Through the agile methodology, software development is done in a better way that considers both developers and customers. In the end, everybody wins, and your products will have a more significant impact on the market.