If you're new to project management and the agile methodology, the answers to these 10 questions will arm you with the information you need to get started. And if you're a project management veteran, these frequently asked agile questions are a good refresher.
What is agile?
Agile is a project management methodology that uses short development cycles called sprints to focus on continuous improvement in the development of a product or service.
How long as agile been around?
Although Incremental software development methods go as far back as 1957, agile was first discussed in depth in the 1970s by William Royce who published a paper on the development of large software systems.
Later in 2001, the agile manifesto, a "formal proclamation of four key values and 12 principles to guide an iterative and people-centric approach to software development," was published by 17 software developers. These developers gathered together to discuss lightweight development methods based on their combined experience. These are the 12 key principles that still guide agile project management today.
- Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority; achieved through rapid and continuous delivery.
- Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process to provide the customer with a competitive advantage.
- A product or service is delivered with higher frequency.
- Stakeholders and developers closely collaborate on a daily basis.
- All stakeholders and team members remain motivated for optimal project outcomes, while teams are provided with all the necessary tools and support, and trusted to accomplish project goals.
- Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success.
- A final working product is the ultimate measure of success.
- Sustainable development is accomplished through agile processes whereby development teams and stakeholders are able to maintain a constant and ongoing pace.
- Agility is enhanced through a continuous focus on technical excellence and proper design.
- Simplicity is an essential element.
- Self-organizing teams are most likely to develop the best architectures, designs and meet requirements.
- Regular intervals are used by teams to improve efficiency through fining tuning behaviors.
Who uses the agile methodology?
Although designed originally for the software industry, many industries have now adopted the use of agile in their development of products and services because of the highly collaborative and more efficient nature of the methodology. Agile is also used in industries like marketing and advertising, construction, education and finance.
Why is agile necessary?
Agile was originally developed for the software industry to streamline and improve the development process in order to more rapidly identify and adjust for issues and defects. As an alternative to the traditional waterfall approach, agile provided a way for developers and teams to ultimately deliver a better product, faster through the short iterative and interactive sessions/sprints. With customer expectations on the rise, keeping ahead of the competition requires finding project leaders who can use best approach methods for project execution.
How is agile used?
The more traditional cumbersome methodologies like waterfall typically require entire project groups to meet and discuss full project goals throughout each phase. Agile, however, uses smaller more focused groups that meet more frequently to discuss very specific goals, making it easier to make rapid changes as required. This allows teams to be more agile, more effective and increases the chances of meeting customer goals successfully, especially as a customer's needs might also change. Agile arms teams with a mechanism to rapidly repeat a contained process, isolate problems and achieve specific goals quickly, rather than waiting until the end of a lengthy project phase to find out customer requirements and goals have been missed.