Agile Software Engineering - A Guide

Agile Software Engineering: A Guide

Agile Software Engineering: A Guide

Agile Software Engineering: A Guide

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about agile software engineering, including its benefits and core values.

Keyword(s): Agile software

Studies show that over 70 percent of companies use Agile methodologies. And 98 percent of those using it say it has helped them improve their processes.

While Agile works in many different industries, it’s most closely associated with software development. Let’s look at how Agile software engineering works.

What is Agile Software Development?

Agile development is based on delivering software in functional components rather than waiting until the entire project is complete. This lets you get a product into your client’s hands faster while getting more timely feedback from users for your team to work with.

The Agile software development cycle builds software iteratively. The software gets delivered to the client after each iteration so they can test it and provide feedback.

Each iteration builds on the last, incrementally adding new features until the final product contains all the features requested by the customer. Each step along the way includes many of the same steps as traditional software development:

  • Design
  • Coding
  • Unit testing
  • Software testing
  • Deployment

Those steps get done on a subset of the entire project though, which means they take less time.

Agile vs. Waterfall Software Development

The traditional development cycle is known as “waterfall” software development. In this approach, each step deals with that aspect of the entire project until the final product is ready at the end of the process.

This takes considerably more time before any deliverables are ready for the client to review. It also doesn’t create as much feedback during the development process.

You often won’t know that the software doesn’t meet the client’s needs in some way until the entire process is complete. If changes need to be made at that point, you’ll need to revisit the entire development process.

Core Principles of Agile Software Engineering

There are 12 core principles in the Agile framework, including:

  1. Improve customer satisfaction with early and ongoing delivery.
  2. Be open to changing requirements, even in the late stages of development.
  3. Provide frequent working deliverables with emphasis on a shorter timeframe.
  4. Business people and the development team work together daily for the length of the project.
  5. Projects get built by motivated developers with the support they need.
  6. Share information in face-to-face conversations whenever possible.
  7. Progress gets measured by producing working software.
  8. Agile development creates a sustainable environment where the team should be able to maintain a consistent pace over the long term.
  9. Attention to good design and a high degree of technical merit promotes agility.
  10. The development process should be as simple as possible.
  11. Self-organizing teams produce the best results.
  12. Teams self-manage their behavior to become more effective.

These core principles were first laid out in the Agile Manifesto, written in 2001 by a group of software developers. While that was the origin of the formal Agile process, similar methods go back much further. Early versions of these methods go back as far as 1957.

Types of Agile Methodologies

There are different types of Agile methodologies. While they all subscribe to some core processes, they each have their own approach.


The Scrum methodology is one of the most popular forms of Agile development. It is a lightweight project management framework in which the product owner role prioritizes different aspects of the development process.

The scrum team develops a software “sprint” in which the software gets developed in increments, iterating through the process after each cycle.


The Kanban methodology is based on a Japanese process of “just-in-time” delivery. The workflow is managed using a Kanban board that helps the team visualize the various components of the project.

The board can be as detailed as necessary but the workflow follows a basic three-step process:

Requested components > In progress > Complete


The Lean methodology focuses on providing the best possible value for the client. They can select the most important features of the software and those components get a higher priority.

Lean is one of the fasted methodologies for getting deliverables into the hands of your client. It scales well and offers more predictable results than some of the alternatives.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming is another popular Agile methodology. It focuses on small releases with short development cycles.

UI design is kept simple to remove as much complexity as possible. Those aspects of the project get pushed to a later sprint, allowing the developers and the client to focus on the functional pieces first.


The Crystal methodology focuses on providing frequent deliverables while maintaining a high level of communication between the agile team and clients. It emphasizes people over systems and tools.

There are different types of Crystal methodologies for different size teams. They include Clear (8 or fewer), Yellow (10 to 20), Orang (20 to 50), and Red (50 to 100).

Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

As you might expect from its name, Feature-Driven Development focuses on delivering features requested by the client. FDD uses a 5-phase process to develop software:

  • Develop software model
  • Build the feature list
  • Plan for each feature
  • Design for each feature
  • Build each feature

FDD is one of the most user-focused Agile methodologies.

How to Learn More About Agile Development

If you want to learn more about Agile software development or are thinking about implementing it in your business, Agile Center can help. We offer a range of online courses and training services in Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit and implementation, and Agile Program and Portfolio management.

We can also arrange in-house training if you would prefer to have us train your staff in your location. Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs and see how we can help with your Agile strategy.

Agile Center

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the following areas: Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit & implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management.

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