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Page history last edited by Joe Little 13 years, 8 months ago

What is Agile?


Agile might be called iterative and incremental development or adaptive project management.


Perhaps the next shortest explanation of Agile is the Agile Manifesto.


The first principle (that the creators of the Agile Manifesto identified) is:


Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer

through early and continuous delivery

of valuable software.


This principle implies that Agile is only about delivering software. Those of us more focused on agile project management would say that Agile is mainly about projects -- projects of any sort (delivering software, a new product or whatever).


In this first principle many will also recognize some key ideas also associated with Lean. Deliver at the pull of the customer the value as defined by the customer.


The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto says:


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.


See agilemanifesto.org for more information on the Agile Manifesto and Agile Principles.

The Agile Principles, while not as eloquent, are still quite good.



Agile Flavors:

Agile is also associated with the following:

  • Scrum
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Agile Project Management (aka Extreme Project Management, Radical Project Management)
  • FDD (Feature Driven Development)
  • Lean (in some firms, Agile is considered the Lean method for IT projects)
  • Lean Software Development
  • Agile Modeling
  • Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
  • Crystal Clear and Other Crystal Methodologies
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
  • Agile Unified Process (AUP)
  • Dialogue-Driven Development (d3)
  • EVO (evolutionary development)


Note: It is rather hotly debated whether the Unified Process (AUP or the Rational Unified Process (RUP)) is or can be Agile. Just be aware.


Why firms adopt Agile

We have heard firms say they adopted Agile for the following reasons:

  • Faster Time To Market (TTM)
  • Faster product innovation (arguably the same as TTM, although different to some)
  • Faster adaptation to change (change in all domains, external and internal)
  • More Business Value from IT projects, per month or quarter
  • Reduction in failure rates for IT projects (usually not phrased this way publicly)
  • Better collaboration between Business and IT
  • Better working environment for IT staff; higher satisfaction for IT associates
  • A better way of working (we think they mean less politics, better human relationships, more honesty, more sense of purpose, etc.)
  • As a way of more effectively implementing iterative and incremental development
  • Better assurance of producing what the customer really needs now (not what he said he needed 9 months ago)


More information

For more information please see Resources and  ScrumResources.


See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development#Adaptation_of_agile_methods

for a relatively short discussion.


See also this HBR article about new product development and faster product evolution: New New Product Development Game by Takeuchi and Nonaka. This article led to the development of Scrum, and these ideas are embedded in all Agile flavors.




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