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What is Agile?

by Richard Cheng, Excella Consulting

Significant breakthroughs in technology have permeated the past decade creating needed change in how systems are acquired and how we deliver capabilities to the war fighter.  It has become common knowledge that a new way of doing business is needed. As a result, great effort is underway to meet this need, so we can build a new system for working together that enables us to deliver mission capabilities to the war fighter on regular iterative cycles with the added benefit of gaining a better return on the dollars spent throughout the acquisition process.

Agile is an organizational and cultural paradigm shift in how development teams, business people, and customers collaborate to build products and services that result in:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Ability to respond to changing mission needs and priorities
  • Early and frequent delivery of value
  • Increased quality and reduced cost through decreased defects
  • Decreased risk through regular product demonstrations

Agile is more than software development; it spans the across the organization. An Agile organization and its practices are built upon a core set of principles. While practices may adapt over time as Agile maturity increases, it stays true to these principles.

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of a valuable system.
  2. A working system is the primary measure of progress.
  3. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. 
  4. Deliver a working system frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  5. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. 
  6. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. 
  7. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation. 
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development.
  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.