With Agile dominating the project management world, more and more organizations are following this methodology to fast track the delivery of high-quality products and services. The Agile Manifesto, a deceptively simple document that guides Agile ways of working, is considered to the Bible of all things Agile.
In this blog, you’ll learn how the Agile Manifesto addresses planning, and how the four values and twelve principles that are outlined in the Manifesto help the team to interact and work together to achieve project agility.
What Is the Agile Manifesto?
What exactly is the Agile Manifesto? It is a document that was created by seventeen thought leaders in the world of software development, when they got together in February 2001 in a ski resort in Utah, to brainstorm on alternative solutions to the document-driven software development processes that were prevalent at the time.
These young developers had each tried out different approaches to traditional, rigid project management methodologies. From their discussions was created the Manifesto for Agile Software Development; what has evolved into the Agile Manifesto today.
The Agile Manifesto lays out four core Agile values and twelve foundational principles that are at the root of all Agile methodologies and have radically transformed traditional approaches to project management and software development.
Today, Agile is at the heart of successful projects across industries and sectors. No longer confined to software development, Agile is used in fields as diverse as manufacturing, marketing, healthcare, retail and pharma, to name just a few.
The Agile Manifesto's Purpose
The basic purpose of the Manifesto was to put down the thoughts of the seventeen creators of Agile. The four values that are outlined in the Manifesto together create a culture that fosters innovation and focuses on customer needs. Traditional tools and documentation-heavy processes are shunned, and the new flexible ways of working are designed to create products that are market-appropriate and create end-user satisfaction.
The Manifesto also speaks about 12 Agile principles, that together create a collaborative work environment that is closely aligned with the market requirements and is in sync with business objectives. At every stage, change is accommodated, and the team can pivot and correct their course accordingly.
Four Values of Agile
Agile lays emphasis on four values that run through every single process and interaction. They are as below:
1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
What this means is that communication with clients and stakeholders, and collaboration between the team members, is of far more importance in Agile than adhering to archaic processes and tools. By keeping customers and end users in the communication loop, frequent feedback is facilitated, and the product value is maximised.
2. Working product over comprehensive documentation
Traditional project management methodologies used to lay great emphasis on very detailed documentation that got into the nitty gritty of every tiny aspect of project planning. This would often take considerable time and effort, which would come at the cost of the final product quality. Agile values lay emphasis on ensuring that the final product meets the needs of end users, and all deliverables are completed, without wasting time on too much documentation.
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
In Agile, customers are closely involved at all stages of the product development. This is in direct contrast to traditional methods where the customer would get to see the product only at the very end and would often be disappointed as their expectations were not met.
4. Responding to change over following a plan
Agile methods are anything but rigid, and this involves being flexible enough to embrace change rather than follow a predefined plan. The project scope might change over the course of the project, and Agile projects are able to accommodate extra features or new ideas that are requested by the customers.
How Does the Agile Manifesto Address Planning?
The Agile Manifesto cannot be considered to be a stepwise guide on project processes. The fourth Agile Value lays out the importance of planning when it talks about how the emphasis should always be on “responding to change over following a plan.”
While planning is definitely important, rigid plans that are not able to accommodate change are counterproductive. It is far more important to be able to respond to change, rather than stick to a predefined plan. A plan should be a living document that is capable of changing to stay aligned with emerging requirements.
The 12 Principles
The Agile Manifesto outlines twelve guiding Principles that are at the core of all Agile methods.
They are (in the words of the Manifesto, which are self-explanatory):
- 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.
- Businesspeople 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 behaviour accordingly.
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The Agile Manifesto articulates the thinking of the founders of Agile—the pioneers of this methodology who have signed off on its four values and twelve principles. These are not set in stone, however, and only guide the tenets of various Agile methodologies.
All said and done, what really drives Agile and is the underlying reason for its success is the Agile mindset and culture, and the readiness of Agile teams to embrace chance and focus on creating products of high value. When followed in the right spirit, Agile projects offer sustainable advantages that will help organizations to stay on top of volatile markets and get the leading edge over their non-Agile peers.