Agile software development (Agile) is a collection of software development methodologies that promote adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, continuous improvement, and a time-boxed period of time to complete a body of work.
Software development is dynamic by nature, and Agile encourages rapid and flexible response to change. Because adaptability is central to its conceptual framework, teams using this approach are well-equipped to respond to changes throughout the development cycle.
In addition to being a collection of methodologies, Agile software development also promotes a different way of thinking or mindset about how to build things and evolve processes to deliver continuous improvement. Agile facilitates information sharing amongst teammates, where everyone has a say on processes and practices and decisions are made together as a team.
The history of Agile
Product teams around the world use agile development to move fast and innovate. But what is it about this method that resonates and works so well? To answer this question, it is worth understanding the Agile movement's origins.
Concepts of incremental and adaptive software development processes date back as early as the 1950s, with growth and progress from a small but vocal minority through the 1980s. It was not until the 1990s, when an assortment of similar lightweight software development methods emerged in reaction to waterfall-oriented methods, that Agile started to gain some traction.
The real watershed moment for the Agile movement was the publication of The Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001 by a group of 17 software developers, who met to discuss the collection of lightweight development methods, which is now referred to as Agile methods.
The authors of the Agile Manifesto also agreed upon the following 12 principles:
1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, then trust them to get the job done.
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within the development team is face-to-face conversation.
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
10. Simplicity -- the art of maximizing the amount of work not done -- is essential.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Today's technology markets change more quickly than ever before. Agile development helps Product teams build software that addresses evolving customer needs. And this positions them to win in market.