In life, there are certain principles that we stick to that serve as a foundation for what we believe. For instance, a common principle is the idea that all people are created equal, which acts as a building block for the chain of reasoning that lead to such historical proclamations as the Declaration of Independence. When it comes to software development, there are certain Agile principles that guide us to create better products in a more efficient manner.

Today, we are going to review the Agile manifesto and the 8 essential Agile principles found within. By sticking to these principles and actually following them through a development project, we can not only create a better end-product, but we can revolutionize the Agile development process. Let’s begin by going back to where this all began in 2001: The Agile Manifesto.

The Agile manifesto

Originally created by seventeen individual software practitioners, the Agile manifesto has grown into a larger body of project management frameworks and methodologies in the last 17 years. However, the core values and principles of Agile development have remained constant and often have only become more obvious with time. The 4 core values on which Agile principles are based are:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

As we review the following Agile principles, you will see each of these core values reflected throughout the process. Running a successful Agile development requires a rigidity to these values and principles some aren’t prepared for. While it may take some getting used to, it will serve you well to follow these principles as well as you can in order to get the most out of the Agile process. Without further ado, let’s look at these 8 Agile principles.

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1. Active user involvement is a necessity

The first of our Agile principles that we will look at is the idea of active user involvement. Similar to how UX design relies upon user stories to create a more well-tailored product, Agile teams must keep users involved in the development process to create the best possible products.

While this may seem obvious now, it wasn’t always such a widely accepted belief and Agile developers often still have trouble convincing others of the importance of end-user involvement. In order to fully maximize the potential of your project, this is an absolute necessity.

2. Self-driven teams provide the best results

The next Agile principle we will look at is the value of self-driven teams. Agile has long valued the independence of each member of project teams, something that has led to higher satisfaction rates of Agile teams. However, this doesn’t happen by accident.

For instance, Scrum planning meetings put the ball in the team’s court as they choose items from the product backlog to complete based on interest. This self-driven attitude allows for more flexibility and creativity throughout the process, which leads to better end-products.

3. Requirements evolve, timelines don’t

Speaking of flexibility, the next item on our list of Agile principles to follow reminds you that requirements can evolve and change, but your timeline shouldn’t. Sticking to this is what allows Agile teams to stay up to date with the latest advances in software and technology without getting behind on the schedule.

For example, Scrum teams will typically divide their development cycles into 1-2 week ‘Sprints.’ Not only does this let them keep up with constantly shifting requirements, but it doesn’t throw off a whole project when something changes. Keep this in mind as you plan (or don’t) your next project.                       

4. Incremental release and iterative development

Before these Agile principles were widely accepted, Waterfall project management was the main methodology that most software developers used. Waterfall operates on building features in sequence while Agile focuses on building the features independently and then putting them together. However, incremental release and iterative development are both principles of Agile development.

How does this work, exactly? Well, in order to work incrementally while maintaining efficiency, Agile teams put together small product releases that can be achieved independently. This way, all of the same features are being created, but without having to wait for them to be done before moving forward. Working parallel instead of in a Waterfall method is just one way Agile can revolutionize your development.

5. Complete each task before moving on

As were just referring to, other project management methodologies outside of Agile can quickly get off track when tasks don’t get accomplished and things are left undone. This is why another Agile principle is to fully complete each task before moving on. This will ensure that when you get to the end of a Sprint or project that you won’t be left hanging.

While the rapid nature of technological development means that you may have to go back and repeat this same task again, this is still a superior process to having an uncompleted task keeping you from moving forward with a project.

6. Apply the 80/20 rule

According to Pareto’s Law, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, typically 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort. For a while, many were lost trying to figure out which 20% that is, but Agile has helped to simplify this process. By ranking parts of the development early on, your team will know what needs to be done first and best, allowing them to put the majority of their focus on this and work on additional features when they have time.

While this may seem like you are cutting yourself short, it actually leads to better end-products. We recommend using the 80/20 rule to decide early on what parts of the project are must haves as well as what features would be nice to have. This will save your team a great deal of time and effort in the long run while making sure your product has the core features that it needs.

7. Test early and often

Next on our list of Agile principles is to test both early and often. At Snyxius, we like to say ‘test, test, and test again,’ and this comes from our Agile mindset. By starting iterative testing early in the process, you will be able to uncover parts of your mobile app design or website that need to be fixed can be resolved faster.

Additionally, since developers often build upon other’s work, it saves a lot of hassle later on trying to back-track and find where you went wrong. Again, most of these Agile principles are simply logical response to common issues in software development, so by following them you can avoid mistakes that have already been made and learn from others that have come before you.

8. Collaboration and cooperation are key

Our final Agile principle that we will review is the idea that collaboration and cooperation are key to the success of an Agile project. Egos and grudges have no place on an Agile team as all members must be fully open, honest, and transparent about their work in order to build the best possible end-product.

Keep in mind, unless you make an effort to promote cooperation and collaboration, it often won’t happen naturally. It will be the job of team leaders and product managers to facilitate a collaborative environment within which an Agile team can thrive.

Final thoughts

As technology continues to progress, Agile principles and processes are only going to become more relevant and useful to development teams. We hope that this review of Agile principles has helped you remember the core values of Agile development and that you can take them back to your team to create a more efficient and collaborative environment.

If you are still looking for more help with working efficiently and effectively, we recommend the Scrum development process. Our blog feed has plenty of tips and tricks, along with an ebook that can help you get started. Don’t delay, get started today!