22
CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS AGILE?
1
Agile’ is a collective term for methodologies (and
practices) that have emerged over the past two decades to
increase the relevance, quality, flexibility, and business
value of software solutions. These adaptive management
approaches are specifically intended to address the
problems that have historically plagued software
development and service delivery activities in the IT
industry, including budget overruns, missed deadlines, low-
quality outputs, and dissatisfied users.
Although there is a broad range of Agile methodologies in
the IT industry from software development and project
delivery approaches to strategies for software maintenance
all Agile methodologies share the same basic objectives:
To replace upfront planning with incremental planning
that adapts to the most current information available
(‘Apply, Inspect, Adapt’).
To minimize the impact of changing requirements by
providing a low overhead structure to accommodate
variations to the originally identified requirements
throughout the project.
To build in quality upfront and then relentlessly
confirm the integrity of the solution throughout the
process.
1
For those who follow this author’s writing, some of the introductory material from
Everything You Want to Know about Agile: How to get Agile results in a less-than-Agile
organization, Jamie Lynn Cooke, IT Governance Publishing (2012) has been adapted for
use in this book, serving the same purpose as in the original.
1: What is Agile?
23
To address technical risks as early in the process as
possible to reduce the potential for cost and time
blowouts as the project progresses.
To entrust and
empower staff to
continuously deliver
high business-value
outputs.
To provide frequent
and continuous
business value to the
organization by focusing staff on regularly delivering
the highest-priority features in the solution as fully
functional, fully tested, production-ready capabilities.
To encourage ongoing communication between the
business areas and project team members to increase
the relevance, usability, quality, and acceptance of
delivered solutions.
The last two bullet points in this list cannot be emphasized
enough. Where traditional waterfall software development
projects focus on using extensive upfront documentation to
detail user requirements before development work can even
begin, Agile approaches rely on shared communication
between the development team and the business users
throughout the project, with the business users' highest
priority requested features regularly presented to them as
fully functional software to confirm whether or not the
delivered solution meets their requirements.
Some of the most common Agile methodologies (also
referred to as ‘Agile Methods’) include:
iterative strategies for managing software development
projects, such as Scrum, Dynamic Systems
Agile methodologies are
common-sense approaches for
applying the finite resources of
an organization to
continuously deliver low risk,
high business-value software
solutions
1: What is Agile?
24
Development Method (DSDM), Feature-Driven
Development (FDD
TM
), the Agile Unified Process
(AUP), and Lean Development
strategies for optimizing software development work,
such as eXtreme Programming (XP
TM
) and the
Rational Unified Process (RUP)
strategies for managing software maintenance and
support activities, such as Kanban.
These Agile methodologies have been (and continue to be)
successfully used by thousands of organizations
worldwide
2
, most notably in the United States and Europe.
Some of the more prominent organizations using Agile
methodologies include Nokia Siemens Networks
3
, Yahoo!
4
,
Google
5
, Microsoft
®6
, BT
7
, Bankwest
8
, SunCorp
9
, and
Wells Fargo
10
.
2
As evidenced by the number of signatories to the Agile Manifesto (Agilemanifesto.org)
as at June 2013
.
3
NokiaSiemens and Agile Development, Haapio P, JAOO (2008):
http://jaoo.dk/file?path=/jaoo-aarhus-
2008/slides//PetriHaapio_CanAGLobalCompany.pdf.
4
Lessons from a Yahoo Scrum Rollout, Mackie K (2008):
http://campustechnology.com/articles/2008/02/lessons-from-a-yahoo-scrum-rollout.aspx
.
5 Scaling Scrum & Distributed Teams Scrum Tuning: Lessons Learned at Google,
Sutherland J (2006): youtube.com/watch?v=WUQfuhdOZ8s
.
6
Microsoft Lauds Scrum Method for Software Projects, Taft D K (2005):
eweek.com/c/a/IT-Management/Microsoft-Lauds-Scrum-Method-for-Software-Projects/
.
7
Agile Coaching in British Telecom, Meadows L and Hanly S (2006):
Agilejournal.com/articles/columns/column-articles/144-Agile-coaching-in-british-
telecom.
1: What is Agile?
25
8
Bankwest goes Agile: project time slashed, Braue D (2010): zdnet.com/bankwest-goes-
Agile-project-time-slashed-1339306091/.
9
Suncorp goes Agile for 19k desktop integration project (2008):
itnews.com.au/News/130927,suncorp-goes-Agile-for-19k-desktop-integration-
project.aspx.
10
Is Agile Development Only for Nerds?, Matta E (2008):
http://radiowalker.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/is-Agile-development-only-for-nerds/
.

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