What is Agile and How Does It Work?

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02nd Jan, 2023
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What is Agile and How Does It Work?

Agile began as an iterative, collaborative, value-driven approach to developing software. It was originally conceived as a framework to help structure work on complex projects with dynamic, unpredictable characteristics. But since then, it has evolved into somewhat of a philosophy or worldview with a set of well-articulated values and principles that it shares with Agmany Agilearieties. 

This article will give detailed information on how Agile works and its importance. You can also get benefitted from Agile Certification. Taking this course will aid you in enhancing your Agile learning. 

What is Agile?  

Agile is a product development & management methodology enclosing different tools, techniques, practices and frameworks. 

Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with and ultimately succeeding in an uncertain and turbulent environment. It is more about a mindset change. Being Agile mindset is more important than “Doing Agile”. 

Short History of Agile  

Agile Manifesto, 2001 Snowbird, Utah, is a statement of 4 values and 12 principles of agile that summarize the thinking of the agile perspective and methodologies. Even though agile methods predated the manifesto for several years, it is considered the founding document of agile. 

What are Agile Methodologies and Frameworks?  

There are over a dozen actively used agile methodologies. The most common approaches are Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), lean product development, Kanban, SAFe, the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), and the Crystal family of methods: 

The agile methodology encourages continuous iteration of advancement and testing during the project software development life cycle. Here are some Agile frameworks that can be implemented within Agile projects: 

  1. Extreme Programming 
  2. Crystal Methodologies 
  3. Scrum 
  4. Lean Software Development 
  5. Feature-driven Development 
  6. Dynamic Software Development Methods 

Extreme programming is a successful method of developing Agile software, focusing on customer satisfaction. To develop the software, extreme programming requires maximum interaction with customers. It divides the entire software development life cycle into short growth sequences. 

Based on our research findings and conversations with top executives, we discovered that Agile methodologies could help spur growth and support digital transformation in an era of high customer demand and fast-emerging market trends. 

The report shows Agile organizations' experience: 

  • Quicker time-to-market (60%) 
  • Faster innovation (59%) 
  • Improved non-financial results such as customer experience and product quality (59%) 
  • Improved employee morale (57%) 

The essence of Agile Development Methodology  

Let us see some important pointers: 

  • Lean – eliminate waste 
  • Iterative – embrace change 
  • Incremental delivery – promote feedback 
  • Value-driven – enhanced ROI, reduced risk 
  • Collaborative – customer involvement 
  • Quality-focused – potentially shippable product 
  • Bring a just-in-time product management perspective to IT projects. 

How Does Agile Work?  

how does agile work

Agile process flow  

The following is an outline of the process flow from creating a product to completing a sprint in the Agile Development application. 

Step 1: Create a product 

A product is a set of features that are offered to users. It can either focus on a few user stories or many users containing many tasks. 

Step2: Create an agile group 

An Agile group team can be formed, defining the number of tasks a member can complete in a sprint to define the group's capacity. 

Step 3: Create a release 

Create a release withart dawith ad an end date, hich the development iterations will be completed. 

Step 4: Create a personalized  

It can be created by defining the filter criteria. It can be a combination of stories, incidents, defects, etc. 

Step 5: Create a sprint 

It is the time frame within which a development team delivers one or more stories. A release can have multiple sprints. A team is expected to complete all the assigned stories within a sprint. 

Step 6: Planning the sprint. 

Before starting a sprint, decide on the stories from the backlog that can be committed to complete within a sprint. Stories to be worked on in a sprint should be selected based on priorities., 

Step 7: Track the progress of a sprint 

Team members should update their tasks and story records daily to communicate their progress. 

Step 8: Track the progress of the release 

This is done to ensure that the team is completing stories and is on track to achieve the goal. 

Benefits of Agile  

Some of the main benefits of Agile: 

  • Relies on observation and experience, it is Empirical 
  • Lightweight (that makes it easy to understand but hard to master) 
  • Adaptive 
  • Fast but never hurried 
  • Exposes wastefulness 
  • Customer-centric 
  • Fosters trust, honesty, and courage 
  • Encourages self-organization 
  • Speed to market 
  • Right product 
  • Quality 
  • Flexibility 
  • Transparency 
  • Risk management 
  • Cost control 

benefits of agile

Agile Values  

Some important Agile values are: 

  • Trust: Trust among the various stakeholders (team, scrum master, product owner, project manager) plays a vital role in making Agile successful. 
  • Respect: Individuals have to respect and consider the opinion of all the stakeholders, even if a team member is fresher. 
  • Openness: The team/scrum master should be open to the management and the product owner while providing status updates and highlighting risks (both internal and external risks). 
  • Courage: The team should have the courage to say NO to the management if we cannot commit to the delivery for the right reasons. 

Agile Principles  

In addition to the four agile values, the authors of Manifesto created twelve guiding principles for agile methods. This part of the Manifesto reads as follows: 

  • Begin with clarity about WHY, HOW, and WHAT over WHAT, HOW, and WHY. Please start with the outcome, not the output, and follow it throughout the journey. 
  • Inspect, adapt, improve, and sustain the business outcome. 
  • Encourage self-direction for teams to uncover innovation instead of concentrating leadership in the hands of a select few. 

In other words: 

  • Focus on customer and business value 
  • Iterative and fast 
  • Flexible, adaptive, and continuously improving 
  • Collaboration and teamwork 
  • Empowered and self-directed teams. 

agile principles

Let us take a closer look at each of the Agile Manifestos twelve principles. Again, although the principles may use software development terms, as you read about them, think about how these concepts apply to other types of knowledge work projects: 

Interpretation of Agile Principles  

  1. The highest priority is customer satisfaction, achieved by the early and consistent delivery of valuable software OR "Satisfy customers with great systems". 
  2. Welcome the changing requirements, even those that arise late in development OR "Welcome change". 
  3. Continuous focus on delivering shippable customer priority deliverables iteratively and incrementally. Working software is frequently delivered within a couple of weeks or months; a shorter timescale is preferred to use OR "Deliver frequently". 
  4. Business folk and developers must work together throughout the project OR "Work with business".
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals - support and trust them to accomplish the job OR "Motivate people". 
  6. A face-to-face conversation is the most effective way of conveying information OR "Face-to-face communications". 
  7. Working software is the principal measure of progress OR "Measure systems done".
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development, the ability to maintain a constant pace OR "Maintain sustainable pace".
  9. Good design and continuous attention to techno-functional excellence enhances agility OR "Maintain design".
  10. Simplicity and continuous focus on % of work done rather than % of the effort spent by team OR "Keep it simple". 
  11. Requirements, best architecture, and design emerge from all self-organizing teams OR "Team create architecture".
  12. Frequently reflect on how to improve efficiency OR "Reflect and adjust".

Your description may vary, depending on what part of the principle stands out most for you, but the preceding are the possible abbreviations. 

Key Agile Principles  

  1. Focus on the customer and business value 
  2. Iterative and fast development 
  3. Flexible, adaptive, and continuously improving 
  4. Collaboration and teamwork 
  5. Empowered and self-directed teams 

Agile Core Ideas  

  1. Adaptive: The process and the team must be flexible 
  2. Iterative: Agile development introduces efficient products in stages, which are evolving sets of completed and working software 
  3. People-oriented: The organization should support teams and people, as they are essential elements for the success of a project. 
  4. Collaboration: All parties are empowered to contribute to the end goal. It builds trust and accountability. 
  5. Simplicity is key to agility and mindset change, as per Manifesto for Agile Software development. 

Key Agile Concepts  

1. Daily stand-up 

Daily stand-ups are typically held in the same location and at the same time each day. The meetings are often time-boxed to 15 minutes to keep the discussion brisk but relevant. During the stand-up, each team member answers the following three questions: 

  • What did you do yesterday? 
  • What will you do today? 
  • Are there any blockers in your way? 

2. Epic 

This is a high-level definition of a requirement that has not yet been sufficiently refined or understood. Eventually, an epic will be refined and broken down into several customer stories or requirements. 

3. Sprint 

Sprint is the heartbeat of Scrum. All work in Scrum is done during Sprints. Sprint is a time-boxed duration of time, usually 1-4 weeks long. Sprints start with a Sprint planning meeting and end with a Sprint review and retrospective meeting. Teams develop increments of functionality during Sprints. 

4. Sprint Planning 

It is a scrum ceremony used to plan the work of the Sprint. Sprint planning is the first event with the Sprint and occurs on the first day of a new sprint. The product owner collaborates to help the team select items (requirements) from the product backlog for the upcoming Sprint. 

The Scrum master facilitates the time-boxed meeting. Each part is timeboxed to two hours per week of Sprint per Scrum standard guidelines. It is time-boxed to 8 hours for one month sprint. For shorter sprints, the timebox is shorter. 

Remember, a timebox is a maximum amount, not a minimum or suggested amount of time. Many experienced Scrum teams regularly spend far less than the timebox in Sprint planning. 

The team and Product owner primarily focus on achieving the following goals: 

  • Determine what team can deliver in this sprint 
  • Plan how a team will achieve that delivery. Focus on the highest priority discussions, and they have a sense of urgency. 

5. Increment 

An increment is a sum of the product or service delivered up to the start of the current iteration plus the delivery of the current iteration. 

6. Iteration 

An iteration is a timebox, usually of between one and four weeks, during which work takes place. When there is an initiative comprising several iterations, the length of each iteration, in most cases, is kept the same. 

7. Sprint Review 

At the end of the Sprint, the Team gets together with the Product Owner and stakeholders for the Sprint Review. They work together to see what was done during the Sprint and update the Product Backlog for future work. It is a time-boxed meeting and t. The Scrum Master facilitates this meeting. 

8. Sprint retrospective 

This is the last meeting in the Sprint. The team, the product owner, and the Scrum master work together to reflect on the previous Sprint, i.e., what went well during the Sprint, what didn't go so well, and what can they do to improve? Retrospective provides an opportunity for continuous improvement. 

9. An Agile Team 

The Agile team is a co-located, cross-functional, self-directed group of individuals who are self-sufficient as a team and have the ability and authority to deliver business values in a short iteration time box. 

Agile teams continuously run short iterations to deliver working software, and the backlog is the starting point that indicates what to sign up for next. It is important that this backlog has clear, prioritized value objectives. 

If it fails to give directions for feature or product development, chances are that the Agile team will not deliver what the customer demands. It is the fuel that runs the sprints and the single source from which business can get an idea of what remains for future feature work, contributing to better decision making. 

Agile Pros and Cons  

Below are the pros and cons of Agile: 

Agile Pros
Agile Cons
Ability to manage changing priorities
Organizations can resist change in adoption
Increased project visibility
Teams may use inconsistent practices
Improved business/IT alignment
Needs support of leadership and management, budget constraints / financial problems to set up agile center of excellence
Delivery speed/time to market
Organizational culture can be at odds with agile values
Mostly useful in Complex environment
Not useful in simple environments where scope is frozen
Project risk reduction
Less documented improvement  

Less predictability

It is not effective if Agile team members are frequently changing

Not effective if team is just “Doing Agile” rather than “Being Agile” mindset.

Table 1.1: Agile pros and cons 

What is Agile Software Development?  

Agile software development is a product development & management Methodology enclosing different tools, techniques, practices and frameworks. 

Agile development is mainstream, and even the US government is going agile. 

Agile development is appropriate when you are developing a product/system in the face of uncertainty. Agile development flips the triangle of constraints to keep scope negotiable. It is approached in layers: 

  • Agile Engineering 
  • Agile Project Management 
  • Agile Product Management 
  • Agile Contracting 

Agile engineering builds on a foundation of three practices: 

  • Continuous delivery 
  • Test-driven development 
  • Refactoring. 

What is Business Agility?  

This is a mindset and style of working characterized by quick response, flexibility, and adaptability. 

As Agile Software Development became more popular, people involved with software development activities but who didn’t personally develop software looked for some way to figure out how these Agile ideas applied in their line of work. 

The Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles were written by a group of software developers (and a tester) to address software developers' issues. When you think of Agile as a mindset, that mindset can be applied to other activities. 

When you do that, Agile becomes an adjective. It describes how you perform some activity. It does not create a new methodology for the reasons explained above. 

When you want to understand Agile project management, ask “How might we perform project management in a way that allows us to create and respond to change and deal with uncertainty?” Agile Alliance and Project Management Institute (PMI) explored this question through a joint effort to create the Agile Practice Guide (Available to Agile Alliance Members). 

When you want to understand Agile business analysis, ask “How might we perform business analysis in a way that allows us to create and respond to change and deal with uncertainty?” Agile Alliance and International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) explored this question through a joint effort to create the Agile Extension to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (Available to Agile Alliance Members). 

Agile Certifications  

Common Agile certifications include:

1. PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) 

Administered by - Project Management Institute (PMI) 

Eligibility - At least eight months of Agile project experience in the last three years, and twenty-one hours of training in Agile. 

Cost: $495 for non-PMI members, $435 for PMI members. 

2. ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP) 

Administered by - The International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) 

Eligibility - An online or in-person course with a certified training provider to earn the ICP.

Cost: Depends on course, starts at around $600 for US offerings. Courses include ICP certification, no exam is required.

3. Agile PM Foundation - APMG 

Administered by APMG International.

How to get it - Pass exam to earn the certification; coursework is optional and will be an added cost.

Cost: $510

You can also consider a certification in a specific framework. Scrum is the most used Agile method, so a Scrum certification could be a good place to start. These include:

4. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) 

Scrum is the most popular Agile methodology and being certified in Scrum can give you the specific tools to bring Agile concepts to life in the workplace. Becoming a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) means taking the corresponding course and passing the exam.

Cost: Depends on the course, starts at around $450. Courses include exam costs. You can also go for KnowledgeHut agile certification to further enhance your Agile knowledge. 

5. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) 

Offered by Scrum.org 

You can take the PSM I assessment, costing $150 per attempt.

But if you choose to attend the 2-day training, then the exam fee will be included in the course fee, which costs around $1299, depending on the training provider. You will have two attempts to clear the exam if you attend the training, as opposed to the one chance you will get when attempting the exam without any training. 

6. Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) 

Offered by the Scrum Alliance. 

Cost: Depends on the course. Offerings ranged from around $299 to $1000 as of May 2022.

Requirements: You will have to take a Scrum Alliance-approved CSPO course to become certified.

7. SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) 

Accredited by Scaled Agile, Inc.

SAFe Scrum Master Certification Cost: The course registration fee includes the first attempt of the exam, provided the exam is taken within 30 days of completion of the course, after which each retakes attempt costs $50.

The certification costs around $1099, which includes the mandatory course fee as well. 

8. Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) 

Next step after the CSM in your evolution as a Scrum Master.

A-CSM Certification Cost: The A-CSM workshop fee which includes your certification fee costs around $1099 and includes: 

  • 2 Days Live Instructor-Led Online Training 
  • 16 PDUs and 16 SEUs 
  • 2-year Scrum Alliance Membership. 

You must attend a 2-day workshop conducted by a Scrum Alliance REP or Certified Scrum Trainer and complete all the learning objectives to gain the A-CSM credential. 

9. Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner® (A-CSPO®) 

Cost: The A-CSM workshop fee which includes your certification fee costs around $699 and includes:

  • 2 Days Live Instructor-Led Online Training 
  • 16 PDUs and 16 SEUs 
  • 2-year Scrum Alliance Membership. 

You have to attend a 2-day workshop conducted by a Scrum Alliance REP or Certified Scrum Trainer and complete all the learning objectives in order to gain the A-CSM credential.

10. Advanced Certified Scrum Developer (A-CSD®) 

Cost: Around $850

11. Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) 

The Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) is the highest-level certification on the product development track offered by the Scrum Alliance.

Cost: $100 application fee, plus $150 certification fee.

Requirements: To be CSP certified, you will have to have an active CSD certification, a minimum of thirty-six months of Agile or Scrum work experience in the last five years, and seventy Scrum Education Units from the last three. You’ll then complete an application, which will then have to be approved.

12. Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) 

The Scrum Alliance’s Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) is designed for product developers working in Scrum environments.

The CSD is a prerequisite for both the Advanced Certified Scrum Developer (ACSD) and the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP). The Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) is a similar offering from Scrum.org.

Cost: Depends on the course. Offerings as of May 2022 were around $1000.

Requirements: Becoming a CSD requires you to take a Scrum Alliance-approved CSD course of at least two days.

13. Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) 

Offered by the globally recognized PMI®. 

DASM Certification Cost: The course fee for DASM certification includes the exam fee. Your training should be conducted by an Authorized Training Partner (ATP) of PMI®. 

Why We Need Agile Certifications?  

Agile is going to bring in 21st century's business agile model disruptions. So, it is important to choose the right agile certifications for your career growth. This will add some confusion to the young professionals, as they have recently stepped into the Agile world. It applies to freshers too. They are planning to build their career in Agile project management and remain concerned about which role they should choose to make their career in.

why we need agile certifications

Figure 1.7: Why We Need Agile Certifications 

Agile Certification is a must to get more salary and promotion. Agile and Scrum professionals are on the list of highly sought-after professionals by Fortune 500 companies like Dell, IBM, HP, and other leading organizations. The take-home according to payscale.com of an Agile and Scrum professional's salary often ranges between $107,000 and $126,000. 

Agile training and certification help consultants facilitate stakeholder discussion and road mapping. It also helps them with product discovery. Agile certified consultants can find creative ways to help organizations. They can help their peers adopt the Agile framework and capitalize on its benefits. 

Choosing a certification that is best for you doesn't lead to the success that you deserve. The effectiveness of the course depends on the training provider, so always choose the Agile certification based on your experience. 

What is Agile Manifesto?  

Agile manifesto was created during a meeting in February 2001 that brought together a number of software and methodology experts who were in the forefront of the emerging agile methods. 

In the late 1990s, several methodologies began to gain public attention. Each had a different combination of old ideas, new ideas, and transmuted old ideas, but they all emphasized close collaboration between the programmer team and business experts; face-to-face communication (as more efficient than written documentation); new deployable business values early and frequent delivery; tight, self-organizing teams; and ways to craft the code and the team such that the inevitable requirements churn was not a crisis [Agile Alliance 2001c]. 

what is agile manifesto

Figure 1.1: Agile Manifesto (Image Source: AgileAlliance.org) 

The four values of Agile Manifesto are written in the format "A over B" to address intention, focus, and effort. 

Illustration of Agile Manifesto  

The four values of Agile Manifesto don’t say "Do A instead of B". Instead, they acknowledge that both A and B will be components of our projects but say that we should apply more of our focus, emphasis, and intention to A than to B: 

illustration of agile manifesto

Figure 1.2: Agile Manifesto illustration (Image Source: AgileAlliance.org) 

It is important to note that none of the elements on the right-hand side of the list are absent; rather, they support and add value to the elements on the left-hand side of the list: 

  • Tools and processes facilitate interactions between team members, as opposed to shoehorning these interactions into molds and patterns for the sake of process compliance. 
  • Documentation is developed to add value to development and sustenance of the code rather than as evidence to prove compliance or completion. 

Contract negotiations must establish a collaborative work environment that enables effective decision making and flexible response, rather than high overhead change control processes. (This can also include early termination points to limit government risk for poor performance.) 

High-level plans must be flexible to allow for the necessary evolution of system requirements; plans become more granular at the development level. 

The Four Values of Agile Manifesto  

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 

People and individuals respond to the business needs in order to drive the development process, hence people should be valued more than tools or processes. 

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation 

Agile takes user stories as requirements, which a developer uses to begin building new functions. The Agile Manifesto values working software more than it values documentation. 

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 

According to the Agile Manifesto, a customer can be engaged and can collaborate throughout the process of development. This makes it easier for the team to meet the needs of the customer. 

4. Respond to change over following a plan 

With Agile, priorities can be changed from one iteration to another iteration while new features can be added as well. Agile believes that changes improve a project and provides additional value. 

Conclusion  

Agile is a relatively new way of directing software development that has been gaining momentum in the IT industry. Many organizations are adopting Agile practices, blindly trusting that the method can solve all their issues. However, it is not a magic pill that will solve the problems of the organization. 

It is indeed a mindset shift and a big, positive step toward software development excellence. However, nothing will be automatically solved. By following Agile practices, you will recognize early indicators of problems that you can solve before they become too big or complex and can deliver business value benefits / outcome to your clients / business. 

Enroll in KnowledgeHut Agile training online to boost your knowledge and advance your career in Agile Management. With this certification, you can apply for job roles such as product managers, project managers, scrum masters, business analysts, release train engineers, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

1.What is agile and example? 

Agile is a product development & management Methodology enclosing different tools, techniques, practices and frameworks. 

The most popular and common examples of Agile Methodology are Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Crystal, and Lean Software Development (LSD). 

2.What is agile and why is it used?  

Agile began as an iterative, collaborative, value-driven approach to developing software. It was originally conceived as a framework to help structure work on complex projects with dynamic, unpredictable characteristics. 

Based on our research findings and conversations with top executives, we discovered that Agile methodologies can help spur growth and support digital transformation in an era of high customer demand and fast-emerging market trends. The report shows Agile organizations’ experience: 

  • Faster time-to-market (60%) 
  • Faster innovation (59%) 
  • Improved non-financial results such as customer experience and product quality (59%) 
  • Improved employee morale (57%) 

3.What are the five agile values?  

The five agile values are commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. 

Profile

Sudipta Malakar

Author

Sudipta Malakar is an accomplished SAP practice area head, Associate Director, Certified IT Sr. program manager, Enterprise Agile coach - Advanced level, Harvard Business School, USA, alumnus, patent holder, and an International bestselling author & speaker with more than 20 years of experience in directing SAP & NON SAP DEV teams in supporting many major Global fortune 500 clients in multiple large accounts. He is a certified sr. program manager (MSP practitioner), a sr. project manager (PRINCE2 Practitioner), PMP, PARP, CSP, KCP, ITIL(F), a certified Agile Leader(CDL), CLMM, CMM, and an advanced certified Scrum Master (A-CSM), CSPO, CSM, KMP2, KMP1, ICP-ACC, TKP, ISO 9001 Lead Auditor, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, CMMi (Expert).

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