The Agile movement is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. Agile is not something you buy or do; it is company culture, an approach, a mindset. It is essential to understand what it is, what it is not, its various forms, and how to implement it to adopt the agile mentality. This concept is why we created this guide to walk you through all aspects of agile so that you can build productive, customer-focused teams.
What is Agile?
Agile is a word used to describe various software development approaches, emphasizing gradual delivery, continual planning, team collaboration, and continual learning. The term “Agile” was derived from the Agile Manifesto in 2001. The manifesto aims to establish principles that guide a better approach to software development. Simply put, the manifesto states four value statements that serve as the foundation of the agile movement.
The Agile Manifesto states, “We have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Customers collaboration over contract negotiation
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Responding to change over following a regime.”
Agile does not imply that items on the sides of the above statements are not necessary; however, the ideas found in the middle are more valuable.
You Do Not “Do” Agile
It is essential to keep in mind that agile is not a “thing” to do. Agile is a school of thought; it is a mindset. It is a mindset that drives a specific approach to software development and project management. The term “agile” represents various methods and practices that align with the manifesto’s value statements. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Agile, Scrum, Kanban— Oh My
Agile methods are otherwise known as frameworks. Agile frameworks are the comprehensive approaches to the different software development phases, such as planning, execution, and delivery. Scrum is the most common agile framework that implements Agile’s principles as concrete artifacts, practices, and roles. The Scrum lifecycle is iterative, completed in a fixed time-period called a Sprint, which is about two to four weeks long. Scrum assigns three specific roles throughout this lifecycle, including a product owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum team.
Another framework fitting under the umbrella of Agile is Kanban, which is quite different from Scrum. Kanban is a Japanese term meaning signboard or billboard. Kanban was developed to help with manufacturing by improving efficiency and delivering value to users faster. While Scrum focuses on fixed-length sprints, Kanban is a continuous flow model, and while Scrum has defined roles, Kanban does not have any assigned positions. These paradoxical characteristics clearly illustrate the various way to embody the Agile mindset in software development.
What Agile Is Not
Some many stereotypes and misinterpretations paint Agile in a negative light. It is easy for a company to say, “yes, we are doing Agile,” without accountability. Taking this complex into account, let us look at what Agile is not.
- Agile is not the “let us figure it out as we go” mentality. Agile requires a ‘definition of done’ and a measurable value delivered to customers after every sprint. Agile values autonomy for individuals and teams, but it emphasizes ‘aligned autonomy’ to ensure increased value delivery.
- Agile is not without planning, not an excuse for lack of direction, and it is not development without specifications. Individuals and teams following a correct Agile approach know their focus every week, month, or sprint.
The Age of Agile Culture
In the age of Agile, it is essential to remember that there is no uniform solution when adopting and implementing an agile solution. Every organization has different requirements, needs, and constraints, and blindly following the crowd will not help your company succeed. The agile movement is about finding ways to improve your approach to building software; it is about creating a culture where the right thing happens more than not because of the practices in place.
When facilitating an Agile culture within your organization, foundational elements are necessary for agile project management and agile development. The foundational features include:
- Schedule and rhythm
- A culture of shipping
- Healthy teams
- A balanced workload
Building Productive Customer Focused Teams
Software development teams and engineers thrive in environments where they can “get in the zone.” The Agile mindset and structure lend itself to facilitating a focused environment where these crucial teams within your organization can produce the best product for your customers.
The Bauen Group helps companies solve unique, complex business problems by harnessing the power of innovative solutions in Microsoft Azure, Dynamics, and the Microsoft Power Platform. The team of technology experts at Bauen understands the importance of an Agile culture and its role in building productive, customer-focused teams. We are ready to help your team adopt the Agile mindset and build solutions, side-by-side, that fit your budget and meet your needs.