Agile Manifesto Principles


The Agile methodology advocates lightweight practices to optimise project resources. It pre-empts a ‘paradigm shift’ to adapt the change in fundamental assumptions of project management that promote and establish Agile principles.

Agile Manifesto is a means to achieve the end objective through ‘best practices’ that crystallize into an approach that efficiently resolves the competitive stand-off. Thus the Manifesto is a subset of principles that provide a working framework to attain Agility. The following are high-impact Manifesto principles:

  1. ‘Iterative and Incremental’

    In Agile methodology, delivery of the final outcome is achieved through a set of incremental iterations. Every iteration is a complete development cycle leading into a potentially marketable product. The objective of an iteration is to propel the project to deliver the desired outcome. It is believed that a breakdown of desired features and functionalities into stand-alone development loops enables efficient and optimized utilization of resources. The very prospect of a change in user requirement implies that the delta might require implementation across all features of the product. This could lead to excessive rework, which is not a healthy practice. However, if the development effort is split into iterative and incremental subsets, the experience gained from one iteration would lead to efficiencies and application of the learning acquired to avoid wasted resources.
  2. ‘Sustainability’

    The Principle of Sustainability instills the Agile Manifesto claim that an instance of ‘done’ is not inherently applicable in the face of divergent assumptions. The fundamental requirement to deliver the final products and features requires a generic and global applicability of ‘done’ that stays ‘done’ irrespective of where and how it is applied. This form of accomplishment is known as sustainability. It is supported by the belief that ‘adaptability’ and ‘response to change’ promote ‘sustainability’. However, sustainability in the context of project delivery still remains to be refined.
  3. ‘Collaboration and Adaptability’

    Due to its stereotyped, phased nature, SDM is believed to be less ‘collaborative’. Each phase, constituted of working teams that operate in both isolation and communication, is formalized by deliverables. Each team is accountable for its own deliverables limited to the scope defined. Agile advocates believe that SDM led to a fragmented work culture, whereas ‘collaboration’, which is an alternative, promotes team interaction that leads to better productivity. It is assumed that the phased process is not ‘adaptive’. Moving backward after a phase is completed is considered disruptive as it impacts the leaner process.
  4. Welcome and Respond to ‘Change’

    The advent of change due to a highly dynamic business scenario, along with swift technological advancements, necessitates that organizations adapt and evolve. Thus, with a change in fundamental parameters, the age-old methodology and practices tend to become ineffective. This leads the way to an approach that is better suited to the prevalent environment.
    In order to retain competitiveness, it is important to identify, acknowledge, and welcome ‘Change’. This, coupled with the capability to quickly adapt to the ‘Change’, enhances the prospects of any organization.
  5. Flexible Roles and ‘Equality’

    Agile promotes flexibility in design and delivery. This state cannot be achieved through a stiff structure or bond in hierarchy. It is felt that the typical boss–subordinate relationship hampers the free flow of ideas, feedback, and performance, whereas cross-functional teams without structural linkages prove to be more collaborative. Herein, the roles are clearly defined, and each team member undertakes to contribute towards a common objective. This forms an integrated team that operates within a dynamic framework that binds the resources to yield results through iterative interactions. The hierarchy and structure is abolished, which encourages equal contribution and enables everyone to voice their opinion. Thus equality prevails, enhancing incidences of divergent viewpoints. This yields better reasoning, analysis, and performance.
  6. Continuous Improvement

    The concept of improvement is resultant of the need to enhance methods, processes, and products. This is primarily required to sustain a market and ensure profitability in the wake of competition. The improvement process emerges from learning acquired through delivery and its application to evolve the process into more effective means to attain the desired objectives. Thus the delivery process is a learning journey, and the team should continuously re-evaluate and adjust the process accordingly. The philosophy of continuous and incremental improvement is one of the fundamental principles that distinguish Agile practices from the historic methods of project management.

The above listed Agile Manifesto Principles are only a set of widely acknowledged and popular guidelines that streamline Agile practices. However, every organisation or team could derive more granular offshoot principles to propel the Manifesto agenda.

Author: Adam Alami

Adam Alami is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen. Adam has a wealth of experience in information technology practices. He started his career as a software developer, then moved to business analysis and project management. His 20 years’ experience revolves around major business transformation projects and process improvement. He accumulated a wealth of cross industry experience in major projects in the areas of Enterprise Transformation, Integration, Migration, and Systems Modernization.

He has a track of academic achievements. He holds a Bachelor degree on Software Engineering from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and a Master degree on Computing from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Email: [email protected]

Posted in: Agile Methods
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