What is Agile Methodology? - Overview, Definition & Steps

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  • 0:03 Definition of Agile
  • 1:03 Overview of Agile
  • 2:09 Steps to Using Agile
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laury Hales

Laury has taught in professional adult education settings for over 10 years and is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

Agile is a mindset or methodology that attempts to apply the values and principles found in the Agile Manifesto. Although initially written for software development, it has successfully been applied across many other industries.

Definition of Agile

Tim is a project manager at RenoVate Now, a small home renovation company that is struggling to quickly adapt to changing customer requirements. Homeowners often change design direction, and his company finds the traditional project management methods are not flexible. With all the requirements defined and materials ordered early in the project, RenoVate Now can't accommodate customer changes later in the project.

Tim believes adopting an agile approach will improve RenoVate Now's ability to accommodate project changes. To convince the company, Tim is giving a presentation on the agile approach, making sure he defines agile, gives an overview, and shows how the steps involved will help their renovation projects.

Tim starts his first slide with a definition. Agile is a blanket term covering several project management approaches that allow teams to respond to changing requirements and customer unpredictability through incremental, iterative project work.

Overview of Agile

Moving on to the next slide, Tim gives a brief overview of agile history and values. Agile methods came about because rigid, sequential software development methods couldn't keep up with rapidly changing requirements and priorities. Agile methods began appearing in the early 1990s as the software industry exploded. In 2001, software development leaders met to discuss shared ideas and various approaches to software development. By the end of that meeting, they had written the Agile Manifesto.

The Agile Manifesto describes four values common to all agile methods. While agile agrees with the values in traditional methods, it believes more value is found in:

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

Today, agile methods are used in industries besides software. Its appeal lies in its focus on customer collaboration and producing working products. Diverse businesses, such as construction, information technology, and manufacturing, are using agile methods with a high degree of success.

Steps to Using Agile

Tim already mentioned that projects in agile are done in iterative cycles but drives home that idea with his next slide showing a summary of steps. At a high level, all agile methods have five steps: define, design, build, test, and release.

Tim's next slide expands the iterative cycle a bit and gives a brief description of each step:

Step Phase Description
Step 1 Define Determine what work will be done in the current iteration
Step 2 Design Plan how to build the requirements into a product
Step 3 Build Make the design a reality
Step 4 Test Verify the product functions as designed
Step 5 Release Give the product to the customer

In Tim's last slide, he shows the team how an agile approach would work at RenoVate Now.

The first priority in a renovation is a new floor plan. The truth is, decisions involving appliances and paint colors can wait. So, the first iteration is the new floor plan, and lets the customer focus on those decisions.

During the define phase of the floor plan iteration, the project team gathers the requirements for a new room layout, understands how the customer intends to use the room, and inspects the existing architecture.

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