Agile is definitely a buzzword. Whether it’s hearing your boss casually saying; “we really need to work in an Agile way, guys” a gazillion times, or seeing the word pop up in every professional newsletter that sneaks into your inbox, you may be thinking, but what actually is Agile? And why should I know about it?

Well my friends, here is your answer. Below, we’ve looked at 6 questions about Agile and answered them for you in a simple way that hopefully won’t leave you bamboozled by corporate garble. So here goes…

1. “What is Agile?”

Agile works much like you or I do if we are set with a large project to execute. We could either:

a) Get set the task, work really hard, procrastinate a bit, realise the deadline is looming, do the project at the last minute with maximum effort, but it’s done, and it’s done right. Then, once delivered, our stakeholders decide that actually, they’d like this instead of that, they want it to look slightly different, they want the same but different and the user need has changed. So now we have to start again and push back the deadline date.

Or we could work in an Agile way

b) Get set the task, break the work down into smaller projects that can be delivered incrementally. Put effort into smaller, bitesize chunks of work which can be delivered throughout the project’s ‘lifecycle’. Gain feedback and changes as you go. Deliver the project on time, having already gained everyone’s feedback, allowing for changes and therefore is the right project delivered at the right time.

It’s basically a project management way of working which encourages time management, priority setting, incremental and iterative execution and allows for regular updating of deadlines, cost and scope.

2. “What is agile working?”

Much like the above, Agile working means that you’re working on a project in small increments. Rather than working all at once with maximum effort, Agile means as a team you dissect a project, divvy it out, continuously improve and edit what you’re doing, and deliver a project based on an estimated completion date. This date can be pushed back if the scope of the project has changed, for example, if the project is going to be bigger and therefore cost more. If the project is going to cost more, you may want to lessen the scope and do less, so you don’t go over budget.

In order to succeed, the Agile culture needs to be embedded across an organisation and not just restricted to particular teams in silos. Implemented correctly, Agile techniques significantly increase the chances of success of projects or larger scale business transformation programmes. This, in turn, helps organisations deliver valuable solutions to market at the right time.

3. “What is the Agile model?”

There are several Agile methods or methodologies such as the Waterfall model, V model, RAD model and Spiral model, but for most, the Agile development model is used.

In this Agile method, a project (whether that’s software or a product etc.) is developed in incremental, speedy cycles. Each release in this cycle enables the developers to build on previous functionalities and test for quality. It’s usually used for time critical applications.

This allows for more frequent releases of the project, encourages cooperation and teamwork across a business which makes for a better more, well-rounded project and means that regular adaptation and testing can be completed.

4. “What is Agile Scrum?”

Agile Scrum, alongside Kanban, are the two most widely used Agile methodologies.

A Scrum process is specific in that it revolves around concepts and practices which are divided into three categories. These are roles, artefacts and time boxes. Scrum is used to manage really complex software and product development projects as it allows project managers to set iterative and incremental practices.

Scrum encourages regular inspection and adaptation to allow for quick delivery of quality software or products. It’s great as a business approach which aligns with various teams, development, company objectives and with customer needs.

There are three major roles defined in a Scrum team and these are the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and the Team. All of these people will work closely together on a daily basis to make sure that the project is delivered on time and to a high standard.

5. “What is the Agile Manifesto?”

Agile was formally launched in 2001 when 17 technologists drafted the Agile Manifesto. They wrote four major principles for agile project management, with the goal of developing better software:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This is the structure we follow today in an Agile environment.

6. “Who is Agile certification for?”

Agile certification technically is for anyone really. However, the various certificates BCS offers in Agile are catered toward different people in different stages of their career.

For example, the BCS Foundation Certificate in Agile can be for a candidate who is just starting out using Agile and needs to have a broader understanding of it, or they use Agile approaches in every aspect of their work and would like to develop. It’s ideal for organisations who are looking to adopt an Agile mindset in every part of their operations and would like their employees to have a foundational level of knowledge on which to build upon.

BCS also has several certificates within the Agile Scrum area, including:

These certificates tend to be for candidates who are already actively engaged in Agile Scrum environments. However, they are also interesting to Project managers, software developers, product managers, IT service managers and business managers who are interested in Agile practices.

Take a look at the full BCS professional certification offering and the Agile learner pathway.

You can also find a training provider for an Agile certification.