Exec Summary: What is Agile?

Agile is a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self- organising, cross- functional teams.

Agile is proclaimed to be more of a mindset or way of thinking rather than a software development process.

Agile is made up of three (3) elements:

1.       Agile Manifesto & Values
2.       Agile Principles
3.       Agile Practices.

The Agile Manifesto was developed in 2001 and consists of four (4) values:

1.       Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
2.       Working software over comprehensive documentation
3.       Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
4.       Responding to change over following a plan

In each statement, the word 'over' highlights two (2) parts. The values were not intended to state that the left hand side supersedes the right hand side, but rather that while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more (Agile manifesto, n.d). Smith and Sidky (2009, p. 6) highlighted that the left hand side emphasises interactions between individuals over processes and tools (right hand side). For these reasons, Agile is often perceived more favorably than traditional methodologies like waterfall software development and ITIL. Sadly, ITIL is often implemented/perceived as a method of command, control and governance rather than an approach to achieve customer outcomes. This is not to say that ITIL does not achieve customer  outcomes, more that Agile is better at demonstrating transparency of work, stakeholder collaboration and quicker wins for its customers. Both methodologies can certainly be applied in the same organisation as a service management system and I encourage organisations to consider combining the methodologies in such a manner.

Agile manifesto. (n.d). Retrieved April 15, 2012 from http://agilemanifesto.org/

Smith, G. and Sidky, A., (2009). Becoming Agile in an imperfect world. Greenwich, USA:Manning

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