Over the past few years Agile has become a buzzword in not only the software development industry but across a number of industry sectors. In fact, it seems one can think of any business process and attach the word agile to it and and it is totally plausible i.e. Agile Innovation, Agile Marketing, Agile Service Development.
If you browse Job titles on LinkedIn, Xing or any other professional social media platform you bound to come across Agile Business Transformation Coach, Agile Project Manager, Agile Marketing Executive or even Agile Sales Consultant.
This gives the illusion that if ain’t Agile you ain’t nothing! Unfortunately this also means that the true meaning and intention of the Agile Movement becomes increasingly obscured!
Another huge misconception is that the Agile Methodology originated from the Software Development Community, and the key tenets of Agile are derived from the Agile Manifesto. Although the fundamental objectives of agile software development are derived from the agile manifesto, the ideals and concepts that agile aspires to have far deeper business basis.
What is Agile ?
The new term Agile is derived from a number of lean manufacturing concepts and principles. Lean Manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste and streamlining processes for cost effectiveness. The primary focus of lean is to identify and eliminate waste, whether it be excessive labour costs, surplus stock inventory, excess materials or inefficient business processes.
Lean Manufacturing was popularised in the book The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, the first book for a general audience that explains the management principles and business philosophy behind Toyota’s worldwide reputation for quality and reliability.
Agile & Lean methodologies are based on identifying and eliminating waste while at the same time leveraging synergies and doing more of the practices that have a bigger return on investment.
In his book, Business Agility: Sustainable Prosperity in a Relentlessly Competitive World , Michael Hugos how to apply the concepts of Agile and Lean to businesses enabling them to become more responsive to their customer needs and wants in order to produce goods and services quicker for their customers resulting in higher prices and reduced costs.
At its core, Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end. It works by breaking projects down into little bits of user functionality called user stories, prioritising them, and then continuously delivering them in short two week cycles called iterations.
At it’s core Agile is a basic task management system, in that it is similar to breaking complex processes into smaller pieces, accepting that you may not have all the desired or required information to complete the tasks. You also try to prioritise and estimate the size of the tasks, in order to try and estimate how many tasks you will be able to complete in a predefined timeframe.