GuidesProduct developmentWhat are Agile principles?

What are Agile principles?

Last updated

6 April 2023

Reviewed by

Sophia Emifoniye

Agile principles are a group of guiding concepts that help teams execute Agile projects. The principles build the foundation of Agile, a project management methodology that helps development teams create a framework for dynamic work management. 

Agile principles are outlined in the Agile Manifesto, written in 2001, to ensure companies prioritize customer satisfaction, adapting to change, collaboration, and more.

Agile's objective is to match development with customer needs, and its effectiveness is evident. Agile projects are customer-focused and encourage feedback and participation from customers. As a result, Agile has evolved into an encompassing philosophy of software development throughout the software industry, as well as an industry in its own right.

What are the 12 principles of Agile project management?

The 12 Agile manifesto principles help teams understand the different Agile methodologies. The principles define how an Agile workflow should run by offering concrete examples. They are not strict rules but rather values to help create an Agile mindset. 

Below, we’ll look at all 12 Agile principles and discuss how you can practice them.

Principle #1: Satisfy customers through early & continuous delivery

The easiest way to ensure your customers remain happy and you’re constantly delivering credible software is to frequently iterate, ship early, and analyze the market continuously. Unlike traditional product development approaches with lengthy development cycles, Agile principles will help you minimize the time between product development and launch. 

The Agile approach enables product managers to quickly get minimum viable products onto the market and receive customer feedback. The feedback is incorporated into the product development process to guide future releases.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • The product team uses minimum viable products and tests to validate concepts and test their hypotheses.

  • The regular release of products ensures continuous feedback from the customers.

  • Rather than releasing finished products, the partial releases allow the development team to make product improvements based on market and customer feedback.  

Principle #2: Welcome changing requirements even late in the project

Change always remains constant in the world we live in. Agile principles support the embracing of these changes instead of moving forward blindly. Previous product development approaches never accounted for change since plans were documented before the product development began, and they need to account for new findings. 

Agile teams observe customer needs, changing markets, and competition and change their course accordingly.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Teams use strategic goals to guide their product development approach. Their success is determined by the progression of the strategic goals instead of their delivery of proposed feature sets.

  • The product team monitors all the factors influencing the product, like market state and customer feedback. Once they collect useful data, the plans are adjusted to better serve business needs and customers.

  • Teams adjust and review strategic plans regularly to ensure they reflect new findings. This ensures the team understands the reason behind the changes to help manage their expectations.  

Principle #3 Deliver value frequently

Agile principles support breaking down a product's development into parts and delivering these parts constantly. An Agile approach with smaller product development cycles speeds up the process because the team spends less time on documentation. Moreover, a regular product release approach helps your team to validate its strategies and ideas with each new release.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile product development cycles split product launches into small segments for the team to complete in the set time frame.

  • Agile teams can also opt for continuous development to ship software. The method does not rely on a predetermined time frame but works in deciding what you want to do and doing it.

Principle #4: Break the silos of your project

Communication is a key component necessary for a project's success. Agile principles encourage communication in all daily events. Product development is successful when there’s insight from all company parts, which only occurs when these teams work together. Communication between developers and business people builds strong relationships in the company by promoting trust and transparency.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile teams must collaborate with all the stakeholders involved in product development. This ensures every team plays its role in the development process, reducing the gap between a product's business and technical aspects.

  • Agile teams organize regular meetings, such as daily-update meetings, to keep everyone informed and connected. 

Principle #5: Build projects around motivated individuals

The Agile framework aims to empower teams and individuals through autonomy and trust. The team must include people with the right skills for the job and ensure everyone's responsibilities are defined before the project starts. Once product development begins, the Agile approach does not allow hand-holding or micromanagement.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Product teams must ensure that other departments, like engineering, understand their requirements and strategy before the development process begins. Agile teams must showcase their product roadmap for everyone to see the bigger picture.

  • Product teams should focus not on the nitty-gritty of 'how' they build products but on the 'why' and 'what.' The delivery team determines the 'how' in the product development process.

Principle #6: The most effective way of communication is face-to-face

The Agile principle roughly translates into two things: collaboration and communication. It stipulates that for teams to work collectively, they must communicate regularly. However, this principle has severe limitations in the modern work environment because many development teams work remotely. Regardless, the principle encourages product development teams to communicate directly about product strategies ad requirements.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile teams apply the principle through daily standup meetings, frequent demos, brainstorming sessions, pair programming, and sprint planning meetings.

Principle #7: Working software is the primary measure of progress

The Agile framework focuses on working software to measure product development progress. The clients and tech team review each addition to the product to ensure that future releases work smoothly since product testing has already occurred. A working product refers to every iteration rather than a finished product. Agile teams utilize minimum viable features to measure product success as they develop products that satisfy customers.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile software teams release minimum viable features rather than full feature sets to get customer feedback and validate their product while building the software. The team gains a competitive advantage and develops the capacity to change.

Principle #8: Maintain a sustainable working pace

The principle encourages sustainable development, meaning teams should set clear, realistic expectations. The goal is to keep morale high and promote work-life balance, preventing burnout among members.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Before starting the project, careful consideration of the work is necessary so that development teams promise what they can deliver and set output expectations.

  • Agile teams agree on what to do during a sprint; they add no additional work once it has begun. Product managers should also limit the squeezing of unplanned work from other stakeholders during a sprint.

Principle #9: Continuous excellence enhances agility

The Agile framework encourages frequent releases and shorter cycles. It also emphasizes the need to keep product development tidy. Agile ensures the team has a good quality design and technical excellence. The principle ensures teams avoid shortcuts that may become costly in the future.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • The product management team needs to work hand in hand with the developers to determine the acceptable technical debt. Generally, the product team assigns development resources to the ongoing refactoring efforts.

Principle #10: Simplicity is essential

The principle aims to keep product development processes simple. Agile teams recognize the value of a project and what increases its value and what doesn't, which allows them to maximize the available resources to serve the project better. It helps to avoid unnecessary features and plans to make the development cycle more efficient.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Product managers make product decisions that are more focused and aligned with the product strategy and organizational goals. Prioritization ensures the decisions they implement have a purpose and reason behind them.

Principle #11: Self-organizing teams generate the most value

Self-organizing teams comprise a motivated and committed group that plans and completes its work independently while interacting with customers. Agile principles focus on self-organizing teams that operate on a flat management style, which enables teams to work faster since decisions are made by the group instead of a management team or singular manager.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile teams in an organization are independent groups with full control of their projects.

Principle #12: Regularly reflect and adjust your way of work to boost effectiveness

The Agile framework is a continuous improvement process not strictly defined for every release or sprint. The principle encourages team leaders to evaluate their teams and gauge their performance to find ways to improve performance. Agile ensures teams deliver products through continuous improvement following customer feedback. The continuous improvement should also extend to development processes and teams.

How the principle looks in practice:

  • Agile teams shouldn’t limit experimentation and testing to their products. They should also apply them to their processes. It helps teams discover more efficient methods by studying revised versions of earlier processes.


What is the most important Agile principle?

The first principle, "Satisfy Customers Through Early & Continuous Delivery," guarantees customer satisfaction by putting the customer's needs first. You get to keep the customer in mind and meet their needs.

Can Agile principles be used for software development?

Agile principles are useful in software development because they help teams analyze and improve their products during the different stages of development. With Agile, you can produce products that are competitive in the market.

Where is Agile development used?

Agile development is mainly used for projects that deal with software development. It’s adaptable and frequently changes its scope, making it ideal for the field.

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