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Agile values are a set of standards laid out in the Agile Manifesto that the Agile team must embody to be successful at Agile software development.
Product managers and product owners alike must interpret these values and ensure that their team adheres to them throughout the software development cycle.
What is the Purpose of Agile Values?
Agile values are theories inherent to the foundation of Agile software development. As fundamental pillars of the Agile Manifesto, Agile values and the twelve additional principles included in the Manifesto put forward a school of thought on how product teams must approach software development.
Agile values are the brainchild of seventeen (17) software development practitioners who, in 2001, joined forces to provide a solution to the serious challenges of daunting, process-heavy development processes.
In doing so, these software developers came up with four overarching values that, alongside the 12 principles mentioned in the document, make up the mindset that product teams must have when building software.
What are Examples of Agile Values?
In total, there are four Agile values.
Each agile value serves to express a school of thought central to the Agile Manifesto that is antithetical to practices and methodologies seen in conventional software development.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these values.
Value 1: Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools
The first value outlined in the Agile Manifesto speaks to the need to prioritize individual talent and sound collaboration over work processes or tools.
In traditional software development, it was common for teams to overemphasize having proper work processes and the latest development tools at the expense of cultivating cohesive teamwork.
While the Agile Manifesto recognizes that working with the best tools and processes is vital for success, it speaks to the need for product teams to value the people who participate in those processes and those tools even more.
At the end of the day, having the latest tools and most refined processes means nothing if the people who use them lack the skills to maximize them or are unsuitable for the kind of work environment that software development today demands.
Ensuring that your team members have the skills and disposition for sound collaboration and communication is integral to the success of agile software development.
Value 2: Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
In the past, software developers prided themselves on creating extensive, long documentation for product development and delivery. In doing so, these software engineers dedicated copious amounts of time to fleshing out technical requirements, specifications, test plans, and interface design documents, among others.
Not only was this a time-consuming venture for software developers, but it also lengthened the development process and, in turn, caused significant delays in most projects.
This value of the Agile Manifesto does not do away with documentation. However, it speaks to the need to provide a more modern form of documentation that allows software developers to continue working on their tasks without feeling overwhelmed.
For example, whereas before, developers had to wait until all documentation was complete to work on a new function, Agile documents value user stories. With these, software engineers have the information they need to build new functions without the need to wait for other documents to come their way.
This improves workflow, aids in productivity, and is inherent to the very nature of agile development.
Value 3: Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
In conventional software development, customers and product managers define the details of product delivery, making note of the specific clauses that either party has room to renegotiate or modify either during software development or post-delivery.
While this method involves the customer in the development process before its commencement, their input during the design and development stages is null and void.
The resulting lack of involvement of the customer at critical stages of software development meant that it was more challenging for teams to understand the demands of said customers and meet them in the process.
This is why one of the Agile Values underscores how vital it is to build customer-centric products by way of constant collaboration, consultancy, and communication between the product team and its respective customer.
That way, it’s easier to identify a customer’s needs and tailor the team’s development processes to suit them.
Value 4: Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
In traditional software development, where the Waterfall Method is the preferred approach, the product team’s workflow follows a linear pattern.
In doing so, product managers dedicated significant amounts of time to developing detailed plans for software development in which they defined features from early. Most times, each of the tasks within the milestones subset was interdependent, meaning that teams had to finish all tasks in succession.
Unlike the Waterfall method, Agile allows for greater flexibility throughout the software development process. This is because iterations are short, meaning that a team has the possibility to shift priorities between iterations and, in turn, add new features as per the demands of the iteration.
This flexibility grants agile teams something that traditional software teams lack: the ability to pivot project efforts if necessary.
What are the Benefits of Agile Values?
Agile values provide significant benefits to software developers and product teams alike.
Increased Flexibility During Software Development
Unlike other software development approaches, Agile values call for product managers to be flexible throughout the development process and be more receptive to change.
This makes it easier for product teams to work on multiple tasks at once, switch between priorities during the development process, and mend their original roadmap to suit the demands and needs of the project they’re working on throughout the various stages of its lifecycle.
Closer Product-Market Fit
Another major benefit of Agile Values is that they foster more hands-on, continuous customer collaboration than other development approaches.
This is because the product team makes a concerted effort to obtain customer insights throughout the entire product lifecycle.
This helps to engender a closer product-market fit and increase the likelihood of customer satisfaction.
Encourages More Simplicity
Whereas traditional software development practices call for teams to practice heavy documentation, with Agile values, teams have to document just enough to get the job done.
How Can You Measure the Effectiveness of Agile Values in Your Team?
Agile values, coupled with the principles included in the Agile Manifesto, are critical to software development.
The more a team lives by these values and principles, the more likely they are to create more robust, flexible, and sound software processes, tap into their creative sides, and build product experiences that match user expectations.
However, following Agile values does not equate to guaranteed success for product teams. Other internal and external factors still play a significant role in a team’s ability to succeed on the job.
What’s important to remember is that while Agile Values are not rules, nor do they call for a strict methodology, they do help teams build a mindset that makes achieving success easier.
Agile Values form the pillars upon which the Agile Manifesto principles came into being.
To product managers, they represent a robust mentality that they and their team members must adopt and embody to increase the likelihood of successful product development.
Each Agile value stresses the importance of working smarter, not harder.
Today, these values are the guiding light that aids product managers in implementing more effective team management processes that allow everyone to thrive while still meeting the ultimate goal of releasing software that meets product-market fit.
What is the difference between agile values and agile principles?
Agile values are four overarching theories that represent a mentality that helps product managers succeed in software development. The Agile Principles are twelve actionable suggestions that speak to specific ways in which product teams apply Agile values in a practical setting.
What is the Agile Manifesto?
The Agile Manifesto is a document published in 2001 containing four values and twelve principles. The authors of the Agile Manifesto believe that these sixteen items represent a new and improved way of approaching software development.
Why are agile values important?
Agile values are important because, as a whole, they constitute a mentality and framework that help product managers build better software products.