Building software is a complex process that requires a great deal of communication and cooperation. Without an effective plan and system of implementation, the degree of difficulty only increases. The Agile Method for Software Development consists of 12 simple principles that can empower a development team to produce quality products quickly.
Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software
Agile programmers do not build software simply because they can, they do it to build upon existing software and to improve efficiency when performing tasks. Programmers can fulfill this principle by implementing change gradually, reducing the gap between receiving requirements and hearing feedback, working with the customer to create a product that suits their needs by remaining in contact throughout the process.
Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
Good programmers have the ability to make changes rapidly, frequently, and on short notice. Waiting to design a new system with improvements that could be made now is inefficient and a waste of time. The ability to conceive and implement changes is critical in agile software development.
Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
Without the burden of documentation, designers are free to focus on programming rather than writing about programming. Because of this, the time between planning and delivery is much shorter.
Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
Cooperation is imperative to the process, and can be difficult for some people. Co-habiting a space between the business and development ends can be a good way to ensure daily cooperation. If co-location is not a possibility, there are plenty of communication tools for remote workers. When all parties understand each other, it is easier to produce quality work quickly.
Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
Micromanaging has no place in agile software development. Agile teams are self-directed and self-reliant. People can do great work when empowered to do so.
Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication
Questions are answered faster in person rather than through email. This is another benefit of co-habitation. Face-to-face interaction allows problems to be solved with greater efficiency.
Working software is the principal measure of progress
If the software works, the team is successful—not much else matters. Improving on a bad design means little until a good one is produced. No amount of fixed bugs or written documentation can make up for a product that does not work. The other principles are in place to help build good software quickly, leading to this ultimate goal.
Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
To ensure that work is done quickly, it should be done in short bursts. These short bursts boost productivity, keeping the mind fresh. The right pace becomes more difficult to gauge when more people are on a team, but finding an optimal pace of work is critical to keeping productivity high.
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
Good developers eliminate redundancies and inefficient code as they appear. Each iteration produces better code, part of that process is eliminating code that does not belong. Failure to be proactive in doing tedious housekeeping could lead to problems with the final product.
Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
Spend more time building software and less time doing busy work. Time spent writing extensive documentation is time lost on coding.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
Self-sufficiency is critical to being an agile development team. Team members are proactive in completing tasks. They are empowered to come up with solutions to problems, and do not need to rely on their managers to tell them what to do once a task is completed.
Regularly, the team reflects on how to be more effective, and adjust accordingly
It is imperative that agile development teams think on their feet and search for ways to operate more efficiently. Agile developers steer away from justifying their actions with tradition. Inability to think outside the box could keep your team from becoming more efficient.
Software development is by nature a complicated process. But following these 12 principles can improve your team's productivity by inviting them to cooperate and empowering them to create solutions to the challenges that they face.
For more details, see Hubspot's article on the 12 principles of Agile project management.