9 Key Principles to Agile Methodology

Lexie Lu

9 Key Principles to Agile Methodology

The agile methodology ensures businesses run at maximum efficiency even when outcomes are unpredictable. The philosophy applies to everything from human resources to marketing to new product launches. Originally, agile methodologies were common in the information technology (IT) world for developing software. The goal was to improve quality while quickly getting new releases to market. In more recent years, agile extended into other aspects of business, such as management style and product development.

Back in 2001, technology specialists created an Agile Manifesto with 12 principles outlining the process of developing software. Some of these fundamentals allow you to develop an agile methodology mindset for nearly any aspect of your business. While all of the rules are important, here are the nine key elements to follow if you want to move forward with agile:

1. Deliver Working Products Frequently

Whether you create software or develop a product or service, one of the critical factors of an agile method is moving quickly and decisively. Agile uses sprints when finishing work. Each sprint has four parts — Discover, Design, Develop and Test. Each phase should move forward rapidly, skipping any unnecessary steps. Put your best team members on each stage of the process. 

2. Develop Team Collaboration

Agile requires small teams that work well together and know one another’s strengths and weaknesses. However, without a good foundation, the collaboration process breaks down, and departments struggle to get a product to market. Daily scrums are vital to keep everyone on the same page and address any issues before they become catastrophic problems. 

3. Satisfy the Customer

The first principle in the Agile Manifesto involves keeping the customer happy. Without your clients, you don’t have a business at all. The customer experience should be your top priority in anything you do. Your website design needs to be aesthetically pleasing, and the user experience (UX) must also be on point for your target audience. 

Walk through each point in the buyer’s journey and make sure it flows perfectly. Start with their first interaction with you and follow through until after the purchase. 

4. Adapt to Change

One of the agile principles includes responding to change over sticking to a plan, which works well for unpredictable situations. Creating a layout for any aspect of your company or product development is a smart business move. However, plans never go entirely according to a set schedule. Companies must adapt to different situations in the marketplace, natural disasters, delays in production and even actions competitors take.  

9 Key Principles to Agile Methodology

5. Harness Change for Competitive Advantage

Part of adapting to change includes being aware of sudden shifts that might give you a competitive advantage over other companies. Stay updated on what other businesses in your industry are doing, but also watch the news and technology trends. You may be able to introduce something cutting edge before anyone else does. If there are sudden changes in the world, look for what future in-thing might arise from those shifts and adapt to them accordingly. 

6. Reflect on How to Become More Effective

Another agile principle includes reflecting on how the team can be better. One way of creating value on your website is by having clients build user stories. Third-party storytelling can help your site visitors understand how the website functions and what the advantages of doing business with you are. Stories take things further than a testimonial. They dig into narratives on a case-by-case basis and share the specifics of how your company helps the client. 

7. Shape the Product

Your team should work together to shape product development or web design. Each person shares the information they have in the most efficient way possible. While you do still need leaders to make critical decisions, you also give each member of your team more input than they might have in a waterfall methodology or any other business model. 

Agile product development looks at how the product development changes from day to day, preventing major errors that build over time. The system also works better with clients, because you can bring them into any conversation and allow them to provide input on what they do and don’t like. 

8. Focus on the User

Agile methodology demands you put yourself in the user’s shoes and think the way they do. Rather than just throwing up a website that works for you as the designer, agile requires you to think through the site’s UX from point A to Z. Test each element along the way to develop a user-centered design that works well from the opening day. 

You’ll still refine any website or product designs over time. However, you’ll avoid a lot of errors other companies make by focusing on the user from the very beginning and throughout the process. 

9. Ramp Up Performance

As an agile team moves forward at a fast pace, they may run into issues with freelance workers or other teams that don’t adopt an agile model. The team must communicate effectively with other groups in the organization and explain their needs and processes to keep things flowing smoothly. The lessons they’ve learned will likely translate well to sales departments, marketing, and even logistics sectors. Figure out which agile principles work well for which company areas and implement them accordingly. 

Good Enough Is Okay

One of the most important lessons of agile is keeping things simple and sticking to only essential processes. For those with a high-level work ethic, it’s tempting to make a product or service perfect before releasing it. However, perfection is difficult to achieve and slows down release dates. Instead, agile promotes recognizing what actions are necessary and when something is good enough. 

You can still create a fantastic product or website without it being perfect in every way. Know when to take your hands off the wheel and release your creation into the world. You can always revisit any minor issues later. These are 9 Key Principles to Agile Methodology.

9 Key Principles to Agile Methodology

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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