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The 12 agile principles offer a framework that allows project teams to quickly respond to changes while minimizing the risk of delivering a product that doesn't meet expectations.

What Are The 12 Agile Principles?

Agile principles, as they're spelled out in the Agile Manifesto, provide a flexible and collaborative approach to project management that emphasizes adaptability and meeting customer needs.

When viewed through a project management lens, agile principles lay the groundwork for ways of working that:

  • Advocate for iterative development, enabling teams to swiftly adapt to changing requirements
  • Emphasize creating a positive team culture through continuous collaboration, individual empowerment, open communication, and shared decision making
  • Create a responsive and customer-focused project environment that reduces the risk of delivering a product that falls short of expectations, while promoting continuous improvement through regular reflection and adaptation

Using agile project management software can help facilitate incorporating agile practices into your workflows.

Let's take a closer look at the 12 agile principles, along with examples of how they might be used in project management.

1. Customer Satisfaction Through Early and Continuous Delivery of Valuable Software

Agile prioritizes delivering tangible value to customers quickly and consistently. This means breaking down projects into smaller, manageable increments to provide usable features early on.

Example: In a software development project, that might mean releasing a minimum viable product (MVP) that allows the team to gather user feedback promptly, ensuring that the delivered software aligns with customer expectations and needs.

2. Welcome Changing Requirements, Even Late in Development

Agile acknowledges that requirements can evolve, and it welcomes changes at any stage. This flexibility ensures that the project stays aligned with evolving business needs.

Example: If a marketing campaign strategy changes mid-project, Agile allows the team to adjust priorities and incorporate the new requirements seamlessly.

3. Deliver Working Product Frequently, with a Preference for the Shortest Timescale

Agile encourages regular, incremental releases of working product, rather than focusing on delivery of final product. This principle emphasizes the importance of frequent delivery to obtain continuous feedback and make necessary adjustments promptly.

Example: In a website development project, teams might deploy updates or new features every few weeks to allow for rapid adaptation to user preferences and emerging trends.

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4. Prioritize Collaboration Between Business Stakeholders and Developers Throughout the Project

Continuous collaboration between stakeholders and development teams is essential in Agile. This principle promotes open communication and shared understanding in cross-functional teams.

Example: In a marketing campaign, the marketing team and developers might have regular check-ins to ensure that technical constraints and business goals are consistently considered.

5. Build Projects Around Motivated Individuals. Give Them the Environment and Support They Need and Trust Them to Get the Job Done

Agile recognizes that motivated and empowered individuals are key to project success. Creating an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation enables teams to take ownership of their work.

Example: In a product design project, designers might have the autonomy to explore creative solutions that can lead to innovative and user-friendly outcomes.

6. The Most Efficient and Effective Method of Conveying Information to and Within a Development Team is Face-to-Face Conversation

Direct communication is highly valued in Agile. Face-to-face conversations reduce misunderstandings and promote quick problem-solving.

Example: In a software development project, daily stand-up meetings can facilitate real-time communication among team members, enhancing coordination and reducing the likelihood of miscommunication.

7. Working Software is the Primary Measure of Progress

In Agile, tangible progress is measured by functional software rather than documentation. This principle ensures that the focus remains on delivering valuable outcomes.

Example: In a content creation project, the completion and publication of articles might represent measurable progress, emphasizing the importance of tangible results over extensive planning.

8. Agile Processes Promote Sustainable Development. The Sponsors, Developers, and Users Should Be Able to Maintain a Constant Pace Indefinitely

Sustainable development is prioritized in Agile to avoid burnout and maintain long-term productivity. This means finding a pace that allows for consistent progress without overworking the team.

Example: In a project management scenario, setting realistic sprint goals could help ensure that the team can maintain a sustainable pace throughout the project lifecycle.

9. Continuous Attention to Technical Excellence and Good Design Enhances Agility

Agile places a strong emphasis on maintaining high-quality technical standards and design practices. This ensures the project remains adaptable and scalable in the long run.

Example: In a software development project, conducting regular code reviews and refactoring code could contribute to the overall technical excellence of the product.

10. Simplicity—the Art of Maximizing the Amount of Work Not Done—is Essential

Agile values simplicity in both processes and solutions. This principle emphasizes avoiding unnecessary complexities to enhance efficiency.

Example: In a project management context, streamlining approval processes and minimizing bureaucratic steps can contribute to simplicity, allowing the team to focus on essential tasks.

11. The Best Architectures, Requirements, and Designs Emerge from Self-Organizing Teams

Agile promotes self-organization, allowing teams to adapt and make decisions collectively. This principle recognizes that the individuals closest to the work often have the best insights.

Example: In a content creation project, allowing the writing team to organize their workload and determine the most effective content structure can encourage creativity and efficiency.

12. At Regular Intervals, the Team Reflects on How to Become More Effective, Then Tunes and Adjusts Its Behavior Accordingly

Continuous improvement is fundamental to Agile. Regular retrospectives allow teams to reflect on their processes and make adjustments for greater effectiveness.

Example: Conducting retrospectives at the end of each project phase helps identify areas for improvement in communication, collaboration, and overall project execution.

Agile Principles vs. Agile Values

Agile principles and values are interrelated components of the Agile methodology, each contributing to the overall framework for effective project management.

Together, they make up two of the most important concepts in agile project management.

Lean and Scrum are complementary frameworks that align with the agile methodology. Lean principles, originating from manufacturing, emphasize minimizing waste and maximizing value delivery. Scrum provides a specific agile framework for iterative and incremental project management, with defined roles, events, and artifacts, enhancing agility through structured practices.

Agile Values

Agile values, as outlined in the Agile Manifesto, emphasize:

  • Individuals and interactions
  • Working solutions
  • Customer collaboration
  • Responding to change

These values serve as the foundation for the twelve Agile principles, which provide more specific guidelines for implementing Agile practices.

Agile Principles

While values articulate the overarching beliefs and priorities, principles offer actionable insights into how to achieve those values in practice. Together, they create a holistic approach that promotes flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction in project development.

What's next?

Agile software development has become incredibly popular since its inception in 2001 because it enables teams to produce high-quality products quickly without sacrificing accuracy or customer satisfaction. Find out where you can get agile certifications to improve your knowledge and skills.