Agile Development – What does it take to become Agile?

If your company wants to implement an Agile Development Methodology, you must start with following the processes and ceremonies associated with Agile Development, but like anything else, you can not truly say that you have embraced Agile Development until it becomes part of the company culture or mindset.

Some of the key values and goals that need to become part of the culture include:

  • Deliver value adding software continuously – based on high-level requirements work interactively with the product owner to carve out incremental features that are useful to the business. Everyone needs to accept that sometimes these features are partial solutions that will build upon each other to eventually deliver the full solution.
  • The customer is the focal point of all development. The primary measure of success is that what is delivered must provide some incremental business-enabling function. This is the most important goal, as it should have been when following any other development methodology.
  • As the project progresses there is nothing wrong with changes to requirements. This is one of the main differences between Agile and Waterfall. With a waterfall, it is usually assumed that once coding has started the team knows everything needed to develop the full solution. However, inherent to the Agile method, the final product will evolve as the results of each sprint are delivered.
  • Collaboration is important in delivering software using any methodology, but, with Agile, the collaboration is continuous as each feature is delivered. Therefore a much higher level of on-going commitment is needed on the part of the business product owner. The product owner could either be the end user or a business analyst who is very familiar with the business needs.
  • Finally, the team needs to be self-governing in the sense that the developers need to be prepared to pick up tasks as each sprint evolves and that they all should be willing to help each other. The developer team organization should be very flat, with only the scrum master overseeing the overall team progress. Also, there should be no single star. Everyone should contribute fairly to each sprint.

Accepting these cultural characteristics does not happen overnight. Depending on your company’s current style, this can be a significant transformation. Therefore, be prepared to do continuous review and tuning of the process as the team matures over the first year of making  the shift. Also, you may have to adapt some of the processes and ceremonies over time to accommodate the evolution to the team’s culture.

Contact Elite Technology Consulting for more information.

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