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What are the 12 Agile principles?

The 12 principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto stem from the 4 key values of Agile methodology. These principles illustrate practices that allow the teams to uphold the 4 key values throughout the course of the Agile software development life cycle. 

1.  Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Agile software development focuses on providing value to the customer as soon as possible. This is done by building useable product features in their entirety. Typically, a feature is fully built and tested in a chunk of time that varies based on project length. This time is called a sprint and often ends with a demonstration of a new feature to the customer.

2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in software development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

When working on an Agile development team, you should be prepared for requirements to change. In the traditional Waterfall development methodology, requirements are completed up front before the start of development. However, many times, once a customer is involved in development and has seen some complete features, they recognize that their needs are different than originally anticipated.

3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

 An Agile software development team works to deliver working software one feature at a time. The time period it typically takes to design, code, and test a feature is typically called a sprint or iteration. In rare cases, larger features may span many iterations. Agile software development teams carefully plan out each iteration to ensure they are consistently delivering working, valuable product features to clients.

4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Too many software projects end in failure when business stakeholders and the software development team are not aligned from the start. It’s a bad idea to give development teams instructions and let them run with it – you’ll likely only end up disappointed. The Agile methodology recognizes the need for requirements to change throughout the course of the project. Since the businesspeople are outlining their needs, it’s important that they’re involved for the duration to be sure the end product is what they expected. 

5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.

If you don’t trust your team, then you’ve hired the wrong people. To complete an Agile software product build, look for motivated individuals and keep the lines of communication open. Check in to be sure that your Agile team has what they need to accomplish their goals, and they will do just that. An Agile project lead avoids micromanaging their team and instead looks for ways to offer continuous support.

6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Many Agile software development teams meet frequently to provide updates on progress and call attention to any obstacles. Getting teams in one place for face-to-face conversations (or a Zoom meeting, to keep teams safe in the current times!) is one of many efficient Agile practices that ensures everyone is on the same page and getting done what’s necessary so as not to hold up others.

7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.

 At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how fast you’ve built your software, how good it looks, or how many cool features it contains. If your software doesn’t work, the product won’t provide any real value to the business and their customers. Development teams want to match the business’ desires, but it’s also important to be sure you’re creating a software product that actually works at each stage.

8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Agile development teams plan out the scope of work to keep producing at a steady pace. While the software requirements will change during the course of the project, the expectations from members of the team remains the same throughout. Subject matter experts, developers, and any users participating in testing will be well aware of their commitments so that product development isn’t slowed down.

9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

 Rework is often the reason why software projects tend to fall behind. Ensuring that you’re taking steps to create a positive user experience that implements good design and matches the intended brand is essential to avoid redoing work on the product later. Also, take care to use a technical architect to be sure your end product will be able to evolve as needed.

10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

Take a straightforward approach and always consider whether or not you’re following the fastest path to achieve your product goals. Avoid projects that are too long – it’s likely that you could build something valuable in much less time. That smaller project will allow you to be more agile because it allows for the opportunity to identify necessary changes in the future, before you’ve wasted time building the product.

11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Foster a culture of ownership among your team to enhance the quality of your deliverables. Assembling the best Agile team, identifying roles, and establishing accountability allows Agile teams to essentially manage themselves. Give your Agile team the freedom to pivot and the support they need, and they will build your product to the best of their abilities. 

12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Often called an Agile retrospective, this collection of team feedback allows your Agile software development team to get better and more efficient with each sprint. Focus on what went well and what did not. Let your team make commitments to taking certain actions that will make each subsequent sprint run more smoothly.

What’s an Agile development team?

An Agile development team is governed by these key values and principles. They are the people putting in the work to build and test the end software product using the Agile approach. They typically consist of a set of specific team members following Agile practices and working effectively together to deliver a product using the Agile method of software development. 

The best Agile teams today are flexible, collaborative, and diverse. They are prepared to tackle new challenges, able and ready to adapt to changes, value using Agile best practices, and open to feedback to continuously learn and get better.

Who are the members of an Agile development team?

An Agile development team consists of members with the necessary competencies required to deliver the work using the Agile methodology. This means you’ll need to stack your team with people with strong technical, design, leadership, and business abilities.

However, in true Agile fashion, each individual is not limited to one role or responsibility. This means that well-rounded talent will serve you well on an Agile software development team today.