Published on May 11, 2020
Read time 8 minutes
Agile Manifesto: Your Go-To Guide to Understanding the Agile Values and Principles
If you have been a part of the project management paradigm for a day or a decade, then you are familiar with the Agile Methodology. It is the methodology that is well known and respected in the management circles.
In the past, we have talked a lot about Agile and its benefits and such. In this article, we will talk about the Agile manifesto, the principles submerged in the ocean of Agile, and what are the specific values that make the Agile manifesto what it is.
If you have been a part of the development cycle for a while now, then you would know that the older development methodologies that surrounded the market were extremely slow-paced.
This became such a problem that when the service or the application was ready to be deployed, the initial business requirements would have been changed so many times that the initial purpose of developing that service or product would be no longer fulfilled.
This slow pace that was becoming a hurdle in the development process was a very big problem for all of the products depending on that process. To resolve this issue, many leaders from all over the market joined hands to find a solution that would pave the way for future development processes.
That solution was the Agile manifesto that was described in the form of 12 principles and 4 core values. These values and principles were properly defined and put into practice to make sure that all of the practitioners of the methodology understand what the manifesto is.
The one thing that is the most impressive about the Agile Manifesto is that the wording that the leaders used to describe the values and principles, is very precise and minimum.
The Manifesto states that:
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others to do it. Through this work we have come to the below value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”
As you can see from the wording, the founders wrote some very precise and to-the-point statements that helped the practitioners to understand the Manifesto easily.
Mostly in the project management paradigm, we see that the project development is based on procedures and timelines set by the management, but the Agile Manifesto promoted the exact opposite of these factors.
The factors that the Agile Manifesto prefers to promote are:
Let’s now move on to understanding the core values and principles that the founders of the Agile Manifesto wanted us to.
4 Values of Agile Manifesto
1. Always choose Interactions and Individuals Over Tools and Processes
The very first thing that the founders wanted the practitioners to understand via the Agile Manifesto was and still is, to prefer interactions and working individuals over their selected tools and processes.
Why? Well, when you do give them the preference, the whole development process becomes more responsive. Because when the whole team has to understand each other’s wavelengths and when they are better able to understand each other, they can work through any obstacle that comes in their way.
But if the team solely relies on the tools and processes to straighten all of their issues, then there will a whole lot of misunderstandings among the teammates, which will further create fatal roadblocks in the development process, tanking the project.
This is why the founders insisted that the interactions among the teammates have to be top-notch to fend off obstacles and bringing value to the company.
One of the best ways to forget the tools and processes and focus on interactions is to involve a product owner that can make decisions by collaborating with the team so that they can focus more on themselves.
When the minds of the teammates are freed from the hustle and bustle of tools and processes, they tend to focus on the interaction among themselves and knockout any opposition or obstacle that comes in their way to glory.
Check out the best project management software for agile teams:
2. Always Choose a Working Application Over Excessive Documentation
If we take a look at the traditional development methodologies that came before the Agile manifesto, they involved more talk and less work. Meaning that they relied more and more on excessive documentation rather than presenting a working prototype of the software.
This excessive documentation provided an edge in the form of a lag that will push back the actual functionality check of the software by several months. This lag resulted in negatively affecting the project delivery which further resulted in endless delays.
This kind of documentation that was created for the project was unnecessarily long and excessive, and on top of that, most of these documentations weren’t even given a single look during the project development process. This was the unnecessary evil that was knocked out by the Agile Manifesto.
But keep in mind that calling out this documentation doesn’t mean that these documents are not necessary. These documentations are the key to understanding the customer requirements for the project.
Agile just introduced the idea that these documentations are less efficient than a working prototype of the software in question.
Because it doesn’t help the company when the software has a lot of issues in the beta testing because there wasn’t a working prototype at hand to test initially and all the team had was heaps of documentation that wouldn’t anybody at that point and these fixes and repairs would cost the company a huge sum of money.
3. Always choose to Collaborate with the Customer Over Contract Negotiation
When the project planning is being done and project documentation is being created, the companies mostly rely on negotiating with the customer on every single factor regarding the project which not only shuts off any further discussion of those topics but also deteriorates client-business relations.
What Agile Manifesto has proposed to do instead of negotiating with the clients is to collaborate with them. Why? Because when you are collaborating with the customer, there is room for discussion and peacefully communication of issues, concerns, and suggestions from both sides.
And unlike negotiation, collaboration is not a one-time thing. Businesses and clients remain in constant communication during the project development when the company is collaborating with the clients. This also benefits both of them.
How? Well, firstly the company gets to know the mindset of the client and can quickly detect the features and policies that they might want to introduce in the project so that they can bring solutions to the clients instead of just negotiating them down and ruining their relationship.
Also, the clients can properly understand why the company is not choosing to do some of the stuff that they are asking them to do, so they can refine their vision and reiterate their requirements, keeping themselves and the company happy.
4. Always Reiterate the Development Process around the Changes that come forward Over Following a Plan
In the olden development methodologies, teams were stuck to follow the same procedures and project processes that they set out with at the start of the project, even when loads of changes and obstacles blocked their way. They didn’t reiterate their course of action.
Agile Manifesto suggests doing the exact opposite of that. This methodology understands that the road to glory is not going to all smooth and dandy, and there are bound to be some obstacles along the way. That is why it wants us to embrace every change that comes along the way and plan for it rather than running away from it.
Agile always think of a change in the regular process to be a blessing in disguise that the teams can study from because it’s free quick feedback which can allow them to readily shift their priorities in no time at all.
Don’t worry about the new features because they can easily be added on an iteration to iteration basis.
Don’t think for a second that the agile methodology doesn’t have plans for the development of the project. They have plans in place but the one thing that differentiates them from the others is that they also go along with the changes that come forth and modify their plans to work around these changes not run away from them.
12 Principles of Agile Manifesto
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software meaning that the priority of the company has to be the delivery of a working prototype for the customer to use, as soon as possible.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage meaning that the Agile methodology gives the team the space to incorporate all of the changes smoothly and swiftly without delaying the overall timelines.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale meaning that delivering a working software should be achieved via the teams working in teams rather than spending months on it and delaying the release of the software.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project meaning that there must be a collaboration channel between the company and the customer so that both of them can understand each other’s wavelengths and not negotiate their way forward which will damage the relationship.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done meaning that if you are in the position of a manager managing a team, you are bound to support them through thick and thin, and motivate your troops so that they can work harder and bring more value to the company.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within the development team is a face-to-face conversation meaning that communicating with your troops in person when all of them are in the same location is much more effective because a face-to-face discussion builds trust and understanding among you and them.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress meaning that the excessive documentation and other KPIs are no match for a working prototype of the application when it comes to measuring the success rate.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely meaning that the teams must be able to retain their stamina while developing the application so that they don’t burn all of their energy after a few rounds of success.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility meaning that the team must be able to handle every change and obstacles that come before them to produce an amazing product that the customers would adore.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Relevant to your project management industry, what challenges have you faced within the context of applicable Agile manifesto principles? Do share your valuable input through the comments section below.
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