What are Agile principles?

Agile is a popular software development methodology. It is a modern approach that prioritises flexibility, adaptability to change, and customer satisfaction. Developed in response to the high levels of failure throughout software development projects, the Agile approach has risen in power and popularity ever since its debut in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto. 

The Agile Manifesto was launched by the methodology’s creators. It is a document that outlines the main practices and principles of the entire approach. The first thing that the Manifesto deals with is the values of agile development, which include:


“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan”


As well as these values, there are key 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto. These tenets of the methodology offer guidance on how an Agile project should be conducted to follow best-practice, and we are going to explore them right here. 

Starting with…

Principle 1: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

The first Agile principle highlights two very important aspects of the entire Manifesto and approach – a customer-centred focus and an emphasis on value. Both of these are critical to the overall Agile framework. 

Another key aspect of this principle is the term “early”. Agile projects typically aim for quick turnaround times, so that a customer may have their bespoke software quickly and they then may enter the competitive market as early as possible. 

Above all, an Agile project will offer its clients a great product that is made quickly, effectively, and that puts their requirements first. A model for the perfect experience really. 

Principle 2: “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

The Agile Manifesto hoped to fix certain problems within the pre-existing software development market. One of those problems was that of rigidness and lack of responsiveness to a fast-paced, ever-changing market. To counteract and change this, one of the important Agile principles focuses on embracing change.

The iterative approach of agile software development projects allows change, modifications, and fixes to occur throughout the length of the project, even, as the principle states, late in the process. Allowing such change means that the best possible product is created and that the client is as ready for the competitive market as possible. 

Principle 3: “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale.”

As we mentioned previously, the Agile approach focuses on short timescales and quick turnarounds for customers. In such a fast-paced, demanding modern world, this is certainly preferable to long-drawn-out projects that keep customers waiting for the results they want.

In our modern age, everything is quick and continuous. Agile responds to this by drawing software development projects into the same line. If you want software quickly, working with an Agile team is the way to get it. 


Principle 4: “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”

An Agile project will encourage cooperation and consistent communication between all teams involved. Without such strongly-established lines of communication, it is very easy for things to get halted, confused, and out of sync. It is easy for errors to occur and instances of miscommunication. All of these things would be very ineffective, and therefore the opposite of the premise of the Agile approach. 


Principle 5: “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

The Agile Manifesto is against archaic practices of micromanagement and top-down management structures. They believe in motivating the worthwhile individuals that make up any software development team and building an environment that allows them to do the best work possible. This is a very modern and inclusive way of working that fits perfectly into our contemporary society’s ideals and preferences. 

Principle 6: “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

This principle comes under discussion in the very present day due to the complications and changes we have experienced due to Covid. Many of us now work online and remotely. However, this can still be used in that a Zoom, Teams, or Skype call can still count as direct communication. 

Direct communication is the best way to avoid crossed wires and any aforementioned ineffectiveness due to miscommunication. Direct is the best way forward.


Principle 7: “Working software is the primary measure of progress.”

The 7th principle of the Manifesto allows the approach to remain customer-focused. It is all well and good if a software development company has poured hours into a project and has seen personal progress, but if there is no direct impact on the actual product being created, how is this progress relevant for the customer?

The only thing that matters during a software development project is the software being developed, so that should be the main metric of success. 


Principle 8: “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”

Even though Agile projects can have shorter deadlines than projects using the Waterfall methodology, for example, they shouldn’t burn out by being too quick out of the gate. Rather than fast, intense bursts of work, Agile projects should be steady and sustainable with a consistent pace followed throughout. This is the pace at which best practice can be followed and mistakes can be easily spotted. Anything too fast can cause problems further down the line. Slow and steady wins the race.

Principle 9: “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”

Again, with an Agile approach, we are always promoting best practices and careful, high-quality work. There is no point in rushing through the development and design stages, only to find lots of bugs, issues, and problems later on. As we said at the beginning of this blog, Agile was created to help fewer software projects fail and more succeed. Technical excellence is the best way for any project to succeed. 


Principle 10: “Simplicity—the art of maximising the amount of work not done—is essential.”

Agile focuses on effectiveness and any effective strategy trims the fat. If it isn’t necessary, it isn’t done. If it is necessary, it is dealt with optimally. That’s the key to success. 


Principle 11: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.”

On a similar note to principle 5, this tenet reminds us of the need to cut out micromanaging and suffocating of software development teams. If the very best team members are assembled with the best software development company, then there is no need for over-organisation or scrutiny. Instead, there should be trust and faith that these teams can govern themselves. 


Principle 12: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.”

Finally, the last principle draws our attention to the need for review and reflection in an Agile process. Learning from our mistakes and focusing on how we can be better is one of the most effective strategies for success. Taking feedback from customers and clients also allows an Agile team to nail requirements as consistently as possible throughout the project. Both sides of this equation add up to success. 

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