What is the agile methodology ? Discover our complete guide



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In an ever-changing business landscape, where flexibility and adaptability are key assets, the agile method is emerging as an essential pillar for companies seeking to optimize their operational efficiency. In this article, we will explore in detail the agile method, its fundamental principles, its usefulness and benefits, as well as best practices for its successful application within companies.


Definition of the Agile methodology

Before going any further, it's crucial to understand what exactly the agile methodology is. At its core, agile is a project management methodology with a set of principles and values designed to foster collaboration, adaptability and the continuous delivery of high-quality products or services.

Unlike traditional project management approaches, agility emphasises rapid iteration, team self-organisation and responsiveness to change. It places the customer's needs at the heart of the project. The customer is present at every stage, which means that we can adapt to new requirements or even changes in the market.


Design sans titre (14)


Fundamentals of the agile methodology

The fundamental principles of the agile methodology are set out in the Agile Manifesto. This founding document dates back to 2001 and is the result of the work of 17 software development experts who had observed a high failure rate in projects in the 1990s. The agile methodology is opposed to the "waterfall" or V-cycle development cycle methodology, which no longer met companies' need for speed. This methodology focuses on 4 values and 12 key principles :


The 4 values : 
- People and interactions more than processes and tools
- Operational software more than exhaustive documentation
- Collaboration with customers more than contractual negotiation
- Adapting to change more than following a plan


The 12 principles : 
- Offer concrete value to the customer
- Consider requests for change
- Regularly update functional versions
- Encourage collaboration between customer and team
- Work on projects with motivated people
- Encourage face-to-face discussions
- Evaluate progress against operational deliverables
- Keep project moving forward at a manageable and constant pace
- Strive for excellence
- Minimize unnecessary work
- Form project with autonomous teams
- Improve team efficiency


In summary, the principle of the agile methodology is to eliminate everything that is superfluous in order to quickly deliver a working version to the customer. This then allows us to discuss with them whether they are satisfied with the product and to take their feedback into account.


What are the advantages and benefits of the Agile approach?

The agile approach offers many advantages to companies that adopt it. By promoting close collaboration between team members and encouraging transparent communication, it enables problems to be identified and resolved quickly.


Advantages and benefits of the Agile approach

The agile approach offers many advantages to companies that adopt it. By fostering close collaboration between team members and encouraging transparent communication, it enables problems to be identified and resolved quickly.


Better project control


In an agile methodology, the project is broken down into iterations called "sprints". At the end of each sprint, a product demonstration is carried out, enabling the project team and stakeholders to see the progress made. This iterative process enables continuous monitoring of the project, with possible adjustments to ensure that the project remains on track.


Improve project vision


The agile approach encourages open and transparent communication between team members and stakeholders. Regular product reviews enable all parties involved to gain a better understanding of the features under development, and to provide valuable feedback. This helps to refine and clarify the project vision as it progresses.


Risk reduction


The agile approach identifies and deals with risks right from the start of the project. By working in short iterations, potential problems are detected earlier, enabling them to be resolved quickly and reducing the impact on the project. In addition, close collaboration between team members and stakeholders enables proactive risk management throughout the development cycle.


Increased flexibility


Agility is at the heart of agile methodology. By adopting iterative and incremental processes, the team is able to adapt quickly to changing priorities, emerging requirements and feedback. This enables the project to remain flexible and respond effectively to changing customer and market needs.


Continuous improvement


One of the fundamental values of the agile approach is its emphasis on continuous improvement. At the end of each iteration, a retrospective is conducted to assess what went well and what can be improved. These lessons learned are then integrated into the next sprints, enabling the project's processes and results to be constantly optimized.



What are the disadvantages and limitations of the Agile approach?

Of course, the agile approach offers many advantages to companies that adopt it. By promoting close collaboration between team members and encouraging transparent communication, it enables problems to be identified and resolved quickly. But like all methods, it also has its drawbacks and limitations.


Difficulty in managing large teams

Although the Agile approach is ideal for small to medium-sized teams, it can become more complex to manage when the teams are large. Coordination between team members can become difficult, especially if teams are geographically dispersed.

Need for strong stakeholder involvement

The Agile approach requires the continuous and active involvement of stakeholders throughout the development process. If stakeholders are not available or not actively involved, this can lead to delays, which can affect the quality of the final product.


Organisational adaptability

Introducing the Agile approach can require significant changes in organisational culture and in the way projects are managed. Companies with rigid organisational structures or a traditional culture may encounter resistance to change, making the adoption of Agile difficult.

Limited documentation and planning

Although the Agile approach focuses on the continuous development and delivery of functionality, some projects require more rigorous documentation and planning. The absence of detailed documentation can make it difficult to maintain the product over the long term or to comply with strict regulations.

Risk of drift


With the flexibility offered by the Agile approach, there is a risk that the project scope may drift over time. Frequent changes in requirements or priorities can lead to an uncontrolled expansion of the scope, resulting in time and budget overruns.


The need for appropriate expertise and experience


Successfully implementing the Agile approach requires considerable expertise and experience. Teams need to understand the Agile principles and be trained in the different methods and practices, which can be a challenge for some organisations.



How to apply the agile methodology in business?

Now that we understand the benefits and disadvantages of the agile methodology, let's see how it can be successfully implemented within companies.


Agility implementation steps and processes


Implementing Agile often requires significant cultural and organizational change. Here are the main steps:

Selecting a pilot team: To get started, we recommend forming a pilot team made up of volunteer members from different parts of the organisation. This team will be responsible for implementing the agile methodology on a pilot project.

Defining objectives and success indicators: Before starting the pilot project, it is important to clearly define the objectives to be achieved and the key success indicators that will be used to assess progress and results.

Adapting the process: The agile methodology is not a single, standard approach. It is important to adapt agile practices to the specific needs of the organization and the project. This may involve choosing an agile framework such as Scrum, Kanban or SAFe, as well as adjusting processes and tools to meet the needs of the team.

Measuring and adjusting: You also need to regularly measure progress in adopting the agile methodology, and adjust practices and processes in line with lessons learned and feedback.


Tools and techniques for a successful transition to Agile


To facilitate a successful transition to Agile, various methodologies, tools and techniques are available, each offering specific approaches to improving the development process. 

The Scrum agile methodology, widely adopted in organisations, is based on short iterations called 'sprints', typically lasting two to four weeks. Scrum divides work into manageable elements called user stories, and uses daily stand-up meetings to ensure regular communication and rapid problem solving.

Agile methode eng

The seven Lean principles aim to improve software development by eliminating waste. These principles include identifying customer value, identifying workflow and reducing lead times, as well as continuous improvement.

Extreme Programming (XP) is an agile methodology for managing IT projects. It emphasises engineering practices such as test-driven development (TDD), pair programming, continuous code refactoring and frequent delivery of functional versions.

The Kanban methodology is a visual project management system focused on continuous improvement and value delivery. Based on Japanese production management principles, Kanban uses a visual board with cards representing tasks and columns indicating their status, such as "To Do", "In Progress", and "Completed". Teams limit work in progress to maintain a constant flow and avoid overload. Regular meetings are held to review the Kanban board, assess progress and resolve problems. The Kanban agile methodology promotes adaptability and flexibility, enabling teams to respond quickly to change and deliver value on an ongoing basis. By encouraging transparency, collaboration and continuous improvement, Kanban helps teams to maximise their efficiency and productivity in a variety of project contexts.


In conclusion, the agile methodology offers companies a flexible and adaptive framework for managing projects effectively and responding to changing market requirements. By adopting an agile approach, companies can improve their operational agility, foster innovation and deliver greater value to their customers.


Combining the agile methodology and remote working. Is this possible?

To successfully combine the agile methodology with remote working, transparent and constant communication is essential, supported by online tools. It is crucial to adapt Agile practices to the context of remote working, by encouraging trust, autonomy and responsibility among team members. Cultivating an inclusive environment and supporting the well-being of remote team members is also important. This can involve setting up virtual team rituals, such as team-building activities, to foster the engagement and well-being of remote team members. By combining these elements, teams can overcome the challenges of remote working while leveraging the benefits of the Agile approach for efficient, high-quality results.


How FocusTribes can help you with the agile methodology

By choosing FocusTribes as your agile project management partner, you benefit from our expertise and experience to maximize your chances of success. We are committed to supporting you every step of the way, ensuring that Agile is properly implemented and adapted to your organization. Together, we can successfully achieve your goals through an effective, collaborative agile approach.

Here's an article explaining how FocusTribes best uses the agile methodology to make your projects a success : https://blog.focustribes.com/en/5-tips-for-successful-agile-projects


To find out more

- 5 tips for successful Agile projects