Agile Manifesto: Understanding Its Values and Principles

Updated Aug 3, 2022.

Developing a project by adopting the right approach, meeting project timelines and scope, gathering the right development team, and saying within cost constraints is not an automatic guarantee the project will succeed. A project is only successful when the customer and the organization derive value. 

If you are in the project management space, you are probably familiar with the benefits of using the agile methodology. However, before agile software development became the standard for software development teams, software development was all about following a rigid process and plan. As a result, they emphasize documentation and the process rather than the outcome. 

In 2001, 17 software developers (calling themselves the Agile Alliance) developed the ‘Agile Manifesto,’ also known as the manifesto for agile software development. With agile software development, software developers enjoy tremendous improvements in the overall software development outcome. 

Due to the success of the manifesto for agile software development, non-software industries such as marketing departments, universities, food, clothing, and others adopted agile principles. 

This article will show you everything you need to know about the four values and 12 principles for agile software development contained in the Agile Manifesto.

Let’s get started.

Values of the Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto stands firmly on four fundamental values that define its entirety and make up what the Agile Manifesto stands for and its belief system. 

Values of the Agile Manifesto
Source: Clickhowto

1. Emphasis on Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Methods

The Agile Manifesto places significant importance on individuals and their interpersonal relationships, one of agile development’s critical elements. 

Utilizing the best and most efficient tools and strategies would turn out to be grossly inefficient if the right individuals with the right mindset are not at the helms of affairs. But unfortunately, processes and methods do not receive the same emphasis as individuals and interactions.

2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

Conventional methodologies spend much of their time and resources creating documents to detail their specific requirements and procedures. However, this strategy was inefficient for developing software at a constant pace.

With the invention of the agile manifesto, working software encourages comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation responding to changes, and early and continuous delivery. In addition, working software makes the documentation process more efficient for the development team.

3. Emphasis on Customer Collaboration

The agile development process focuses on comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration, and working software. In addition, there is a significant emphasis on building cooperation between the project team and potential customers. 

When you build projects around motivated individuals with an efficient and effective method of conveying customers throughout the project process, your project stands a considerable chance of adding value to everyone involved. 

The best agile practices place customer collaboration over contract negotiation responding to changes. Therefore, you need to adequately engage customers from the start to the project’s finish.

4. Adapting to Change over Following a Laid Down Plan

Unlike conventional methodologies, which try to limit changes as much as possible, agile processes harness change and act to turn it into a positive. Changes are pivotal to deliver working software frequently. 

Agile processes promote sustainable development and continuous delivery of valuable software at a constant pace. The agile process supports incremental development and continuous attention to technical excellence and good plans daily throughout the project. 

The Benefits of Agile
Source: Cprime

12 Key Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Agile and waterfall are two standard software development methodologies used for developing software and other products.

The proper implementation of the four agile core values alongside the 12 agile principles helps to give agile practitioners an edge over other non-agile teams. Agile teams are self-organizing teams that maintain a constant pace daily throughout the project (daily scrums). 

Agile teams Versus Non Agile teams
Source: LinkedIn

Both agile values and fundamental principles work hand-in-hand in providing a clear understanding of the agile methodologies to business people and developers.

1. Placing Priority on Customer Satisfaction through Prompt and Regular Service Delivery

The actual value every software development team aims to achieve is to meet customer requirements. Without this, agile development teams will struggle to maintain the continuous delivery of valuable software.

Merely meeting customers’ requirements is not enough. You have to consider the delivery timing to enjoy the customer’s competitive advantage. A happy customer is always the delight of every software development team, and they work effectively round the clock to keep it that way. 

In the quest to guarantee the utmost satisfaction of their customers, the development team ensures that agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage. Therefore, customers’ requirements should get the utmost priority during the agile implementation phases. 

Ensure your agile processes harness change to reflect customers’ requirements, encourage continuous delivery of valuable software, and break down the process into smaller milestones to help shorten the overall waiting period.

2. Swift Adaptation to Customers Changing Requirements

During the agile software manifesto implementation, new requirements surface that stretch the already adequate measures initially implemented. 

These new requirements tend to stress the already tightly executed manifesto further. Therefore, no matter how late they suffice, implement adequate measures to accommodate these new requirements. 

You can transform such unplanned changes into a big positive that improves the customer’s competitive advantage. Set up the manifesto for agile teams to be flexible enough to turn these newly intended requirements into positives that do not affect the overall delivery schedule.

3. Prompt and More Efficient Software Delivery Process

Reducing the delivery time of the software program to as minimal as possible is essential. This principle guarantees periodic service delivery. Break down large and complex tasks into smaller sub-tasks to reduce the timelines into smaller and more efficiently measurable time frames. 

By breaking large tasks into smaller pieces, you achieve a continuous delivery system where customers get snippets of the entire software at specific strategic timelines. 

Deliver working software frequently to remove customers’ burden of waiting long periods to get their desired software program, a win-win situation for all stakeholders (sponsors, developers, and users) involved.

4. Efficient Collaboration among all Project Stakeholders

Adequate and periodic communication among project stakeholders on the happenings around the software development process is one of the fundamental agile values and principles. This strategic principle reduces to the barest minimum the likely occurrence of confusion during implementation.

The manifesto for self-organizing teams also helps position all project stakeholders’ mindsets towards achieving the project’s goals and objectives. 

Set up an efficient collaboration network to ensure regular feedback constantly passes from the customers to the organization through its set channels. You can use scrum tools and Kanban software to ensure efficient collaboration among all project stakeholders.

5. Build Projects with Assistance from Motivated Individuals

Agile processes ensure the best of hands receive the needed resources and a safe, friendly environment to carry out their assigned tasks. 

The introduction of skilled hands in your project’s planning and implementation process helps to improve the overall project’s success outlook. Of course, you need to invest considerable time and resources to achieve this, but the end justifies the means. 

Provide adequate support and incentives to serve as a morale booster to the project team in the quest to deliver on the project’s pre-set targets and deliver true value to esteemed customers and the organization. Building projects around motivated individuals help you achieve better results.

6. The Efficiency of the Face-to-Face Conversation Method of Conveying Information

The face-to-face conversation method is one of the most efficient methods of conveying information within the developmental team. In addition, this method of conveying information effectively deals with the barrier of distant conversation. 

Distant conversations open the communication network to gaps and irregularities that reduce the quality and standard of receiving information. 

If you have to conduct communication remotely, adopt web and video conferencing platforms that encourage interactions through cameras. 

The quality of information you convey is an essential element of agile processes that helps create a positive outlook for your customers and fortify trust.

7. Working Software is the Primary Measure of Progress

The primary measure to meet your customers’ requirements and deliver true value is the timely delivery of working software. Your team’s ability to deliver working software frequently is the scale that determines if the project is a success or not. Therefore, early and continuous delivery of working software is an essential primary measure of progress.

All the well-detailed documents created and other key deliverables are secondary accomplishments when weighed beside the project’s primary measure and the true value of early and continuous delivery of valuable software prototypes. These prototypes are an efficient and effective method of measuring the project’s success rate.

8. Agile Processes Promote Sustainable Development

Replicate the same energy and vigor exercised during the project’s process throughout the entire timeline of the project process. This fundamental principle ensures the sustainability of the ever-changing software development environment in dealing with the constant threat of delays. 

Finding the right balance to keep the project’s process running smoothly and efficiently should be the primary concern of the project’s manager. Sponsors and users need to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

9. Emphasis on Technical Excellence and Good Design Enhances Agility

The agile methodology is never about a one requirement process. Instead, agile values and principles entail early and continuous delivery of quality products throughout the project’s lifecycle. 

Regular updates and the introduction of new and exciting features aimed at improving innovation and sustainable development help boost the technical excellence of the software. 

Improving the initial software design is also an efficient way of improving the technical excellence of the software program. Good design enhances agility.

10. Simplicity

The essence of using the agile approach is not to make the project process more complex than it already is. Instead, agile processes harness change to deliver working software frequently, promoting sustainable development effectively. 

The true goal of the agile manifesto is to break down the whole project process into easy-to-implement and straightforward sub-processes. This goal eventually becomes sufficient to meet customers’ requirements in delivering actual value.

11. Getting the Best Requirements and Designs from Self-Organizing Teams

The project team consists of many skilled individuals with various individual prowess. Self-organizing teams are necessary to fully harness and utilize the project process to its full potential. The best requirements and designs emerge from teams with good organization.

Give free hands to the project team to enable them to have a free space to nurture innovative ideas that help accomplish service delivery of the highest quality. Ensure you build projects around motivated individuals that pay continuous attention to technical excellence.

12. Regular Reflection on How to Improve Overall Efficiency

The agile team should organize regular sit-ins to discuss the project processes and proffer solutions. These meetings can serve as an efficient problem-seeking mechanism, as all aggrieved and dysfunctional parties lay their concerns and dissatisfactions. 

Discuss solutions to these concerns to ensure they do not escalate out of hand. By discussing these solutions, you help improve the efficiency of the successful delivery of the project. In addition, you further improve all the gray areas in dire need of improvement. 

Regular reflection is an essential principle of the agile manifesto and can effectively track progress. Therefore, at intervals, the project team reflects on effectively delivering critical deliverables at a constant pace.

Is the Agile Manifesto Still Relevant for Developing Software?

In today’s world, most software development organizations have incorporated the use of the agile manifesto into their organization’s operational structure. 

This manifesto helps them in their quest to deliver standard software processes held to the highest possible standard, the agile best practices. In addition, the manifesto for agile development allows flexibility, allowing different organizations to make tweaks that meet their product requirements. 

Agile manifesto helps clarify that the agile project management roles conform to the organization’s goals and objectives. 

Imposing agile best practices on your project team is unnecessary and has a dire effect on the project team. This situation refers to the “Agile Industrial Complex.” 

Project teams should be given adequate autonomy in deciding their method and approach with agile best practices. The agile manifesto is a vital document that efficiently guides organizations to incorporate the agile methodology into their operational structure.

How to Use the Agile Manifesto for Agile Software Development?

The agile manifesto, if adequately implemented, tends to be a game-changer, especially for software development organizations. 

1. Involve All Essential Stakeholders

Actively involve all stakeholders in creating the agile manifesto until its final implementation stage. Involving all essential stakeholders ensures a smooth implementation process, and its flexibility gives room for adaptation to changes.

2. Break Work Down to Aid Prompt DeliveryBreak Work Down to Aid Prompt Delivery

Break down complex tasks and processes into simple and easily executed tasks to facilitate smooth implementation. The agile manifesto functions much better with fewer complexities surrounding it, as the document aims to be as simple and easy to implement as possible.

3. Find Ways to Increase Flexibility

When implemented with your chosen agile project management platform, the Agile manifesto helps improve the flexibility outlook to meet the software development needs of the organization. 

Adequate changes and adaptations should ensure that the chosen strategies and methods are a perfect fit for your agile projects.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.