What is Agile?

Agile is a project management methodology that helps development teams respond to any sudden changes in a development cycle.

Agile is more than a collection of frameworks such as Kanban, Scrum or DSDM. Agile is a set of principles, first outlined in the Agile Manifesto, that focus on the value of individuals, collaboration and change over static processes, documentation and repetition.

In short, Agile is more than just a buzzword. It’s an applicable, quantifiable and effective approach to the way businesses operate.   

The history of Agile

Agile was originally designed for use in software development. In 2001, a group of software practitioners, frustrated with inadequacies of the software development industry, wrote the Agile Manifesto.

They agreed the best way to improve their industry was to do away with outdated, inefficient practices such as comprehensive documentation and lengthy meetings, that slowed development.

The benefit of agile practices became immediately evident. Some of those that had written the Agile Manifesto such as Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber then took these and ideas and created new frameworks, applicable to other industries.

Agile methods such as Scrum, Extreme Programming and DSDM have since exploded in popularity. As of 2017 The Project Management Institute (PMI) reports that over 70% of companies in North America, Europe and Asia have adopted an agile management method with promising results[1].

Agile methods

There are many answers to the question: What is agile? Many agile methodologies have been developed over the past two decades, each with their own unique brand of problem-solving.


Scrum was initially developed for use in software development but has since been used in other industries with great success.

Scrum is designed for smaller teams with 10 or less members.

Scrum focuses around time-boxed iterations called sprints. These iterations are punctuated with regular meetings called Scrums. The entire process is overseen by a Scrum-master whose task it is to identify and remove obstacles in development, so each successive iteration runs more smoothly than the last.    


Kanban was first developed for use in the automotive industry.

It works on the idea of visual stock replenishment in markets: Customers take what they need from the shop floor when needed. Missing stock is quickly identified and replenished. There is little delay between these actions. In much the same way, Kanban allows developers to pull completed tasks from a task pool when they are needed in the next stage of development.


As its name suggests, Scrumban is a combination of both Scrum and Kanban. It was designed to help teams transition from Scrum to Kanban as they grew in size and complexity.   

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme programming (XP) took the ideas of agile manifesto and focused on fine-tuning them to further improve the software development.

 Extreme Programming (XP) aims to reduce the cost of changes in development by having multiple, short development cycles. By doing this, potential problems can be identified early in development before they grow and become a real hinderance to development in later stages of the project.


[1] Project Management Institute. (2017). PMI’s Pulse of the Profession. Global Project Management Survey. 9, 7.