Agile Manifesto – Understand it the Right Way

Agile Manifesto – Understand it the Right Way

Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto is a proclamation, pioneered by 17 software development practitioners, that integrates four key values and 12 principles. These pioneers, collectively known as “The Agile Alliance”, developed the manifesto as a guide to a new way of developing software.

This is what is stated in the Agile Manifesto:

“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 Agile Alliance produced this iconic manifesto during an outing on Feb. 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in Utah.

    The 17 pioneers of the Agile Manifesto, and later on of the Agile Methodology, comprehended and realized the value and possible positive impact of the principles in their field of work which is centralized on software development. Other industries have recognized this and have adopted the idea of Agile and used the original Agile Manifesto document as their framework.

    There are twelve Principles that are included under the title “The Agile Movement” and are considered as the guiding principles for the methodology. These twelve Agile principles are centered on embracing change and acknowledges the customer as the main focal point. Alistair Cockburn, one of the signatories of the manifesto, described the principles as implication of the Agile Movement’s intent which is to bring development into alignment with business needs.

    The twelve principles of agile development are:

    • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
    • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
    • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
    • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
    • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
    • Simplicity --the art of maximizing the amount of work not done -- is essential.
    • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

    These 12 principles will then be regarded as key guides for incremental development that will be called Agile.

    What the Agile Manifesto is All About

    The core of the Agile Movement is the Agile Manifesto. The Manifesto itself was developed because there’s a need to find a common ground among Scrum, Extreme Programming, Crystal Clear, and other frameworks. The 17 pioneers have agreed on a set of values that defined a culture and these values and principles are in stark contrast to the traditional Project Manager’s Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK).

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    The Agile Manifesto heavily stressed that communication and collaboration, functioning software, team self-organization, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities are key guiding principles. Increasing the client involvement throughout the different development cycles is the main goal of the Agile Manifesto. This will ensure that the project will deliver the necessary expectations and will minimize any waste of resources.

    Manifesto for Agile Software Development

    The Agile Manifesto is the very foundation of the Agile Software Development. Before Agile, conventional software development models can barely keep up with the rapid changes in business needs. Agile was developed as an answer to this.

    The Manifesto for Agile Software Development, with its four values and twelve principles, offers an iterative and people-centric approach to software development. The change in the traditional software development process aims to speed up the productivity with quality and development time.

    The Agile Methodology is a technique of software development in which the software is broken down into smaller sprints and in an iterative manner. Each function that is delivered during sprints could then be analysed and tested and even changed as required by the clients or end users. An iteration typically has a duration of one to four weeks which provides a scaled-down version of a working software to clients, stakeholders and customers at the end of each iteration.

    This will enable clients and customers to provide clearer business requirements or propose changes in the functionalities and features showcased as they have more visibility in the project. However, feedback from the customers, clients or end users are not only given at the end of the iteration or a sprint. A representative from the business interacts and collaborates with the development team during the sprint as well. This regular interaction and collaboration between the client and developers allows the product to evolve throughout the duration of the agile process. This approach is easy, clear and simple to provide stakeholders a “working software”.

    The Agile Alliance also wanted to revamp the conventional software development processes for it is cumbersome, unresponsive and too focused on documentation requirements. The agilemanisfesto.org, the online home of the proclamation, have stated that their goal was not “anti-methodology.” It was not against a methodology per se, but only a reaction against existing monolithic methodology espoused by Structured Design and Development.  Rather, Agile is meant "to restore credibility to the word ‘methodology.’” They also stated collectively "We want to restore a balance. We embrace modeling, but not in order to file some diagram in a dusty corporate repository. We embrace documentation, but not hundreds of pages of never-maintained and rarely-used tomes. We plan, but recognize the limits of planning in a turbulent environment.”

    Is it a Methodology?

    The Agile Manifesto doesn’t include and outline concrete processes, procedures or practices which was the intention of its creators. They intended for it to be a philosophical mindset for software development and not a strict framework or methodology. Different framework and methodologies were then developed from the manifesto such as Scrum, Crystal, Kanban, Lean and Extreme Programming (XP) which all have elements drawn from the Agile philosophies.

    The manifesto’s principles can be widely applied and easily understood which makes it comprehensive and not limited to Software Development alone. In which, the Agile Manifesto’s principles can be applied to different industries and business needs. The accentuation of Agile on lean manufacturing, collaboration, communication and rapid development of smaller sets of features that can easily adapt to changes made other industries follow suit.

    Who is the Target Audience of this Manifesto

    The 17 creators of the Agile Manifesto are the following:

    • Kent Back - co-creator of eXtreme Programming (XP).
    • Mike Beedle – co-author, “Agile Software Development with Scrum.”
    • Arie van Bennekum - owner of Integrated Agile.
    • Alistair Cockburn - Crystal Agile Methodology creator and IT strategist.
    • Ward Cunningham – Wiki inventor and the first person to use and define the term “technical debt.”
    • Martin Fowler - software practitioner, and Thoughtworks partner
    • James Grenning – author, “Test Driven Development”.
    • Jim Highsmith - Adaptive Software Development (ASD) creator.
    • Andrew Hunt – co-author, “The Pragmatic Programmer.”
    • Ron Jeffries - co-creator , eXtreme Programming (XP).
    • Jon Kern
    • Brian Marick, -- computer scientist, author of programming books,.
    • Robert C. Martin – Clean Coding consultant
    • Steve Mellor - inventor of Object Oriented System Analysis (OOSA).
    • Ken Schwaber - co-created Scrum.
    • Jeff Sutherland - the invented, and co-created Scrum.
    • Dave Thomas - programmer, and co-author, “The Pragmatic Programmer”

    While the 12 agile principles and 4 values for agile provide useful guidance for those hoping to practice agile software development, they are not prescriptive. And although initially developed in overhauling the conventional waterfall process for software development, the Agile manifesto transcended to different industries. And several businesses have started to adapt and develop their industry-specific Agile architecture. The Agile Manifesto, now, is not only being used by software development teams but also various industries that aims to have projects, products and end-results that have predictable cost and schedule, minimized risks, adaptable to change and maximized value.

    Is the Manifesto still relevant?

    Different frameworks and methodologies are still being developed and tailored to cater to various business needs and using the Agile Manifesto as the baseline. A Testing Manifesto was also created following the creation of the Agile Manifesto. We can see that it is still a major factor and influential in producing other related manifestos. The agile principles are also very much relevant due to its basis on economic reality and human nature.

    There are practitioners who aren’t comfortable in Agile and there are some who are dissatisfied of the shortcomings and disadvantages of using Agile processes. There is a huge debate on whether agile can work on large projects. Adaptation and continuous improvement are key principles of the Agile Manifesto. The development of several software development methodologies, including Dean Leffingwell's Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), to handle large projects is a testament that agile methodologies can evolve to cater to ever-changing industry needs.

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