A comprehensive guide to the 12 agile principles

Before progressing to the more advanced Agile at Scale methodologies, it’s vital to understand the core principles of agile. Transitioning to Agile at Scale requires a shift in organizational thinking, and developing an appreciation for the nuances of agile’s principles and practices will reduce friction. 

The 4 pillars of agile

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Collaboration and teamwork are at the core of agile project management, being more valuable than working independently and playing by the rules.

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation

The project team's output should be their focus, whether software or another product. Additional tasks like documentation are secondary to delivering good work.

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Customer feedback is vital to any agile project. Gathering client input informs product development and is of greater importance to an agile team than negotiating contract terms.

4. Responding to change over following a plan

Unlike the waterfall approach, which locks scope in for the duration, agile project management allows developers the flexibility to shift priorities and outcomes. As a result, working groups can adapt to changing circumstances without derailing the project.

The 12 principles of agile

Satisfy the customer
Engage the customer by delivering early, continuous product improvements based on client input. By taking feedback seriously, the project team satisfies customer needs, gains a competitive edge, and retains clients.

Welcome change
The agile method prioritizes flexibility. It’s never too late to shift gears and address changing requirements. 

Deliver frequently
Drive value and customer satisfaction by regularly delivering products and outcomes to stakeholders in a shorter time frame. 

Break down silos
Collaboration is at the heart of the agile methodology. The goal is to unite a cross-disciplinary team to work together and create better solutions than they could on their own.

Leverage motivated individuals
Agile works when committed individuals feel motivated to do their best work. Value and support team members, trusting them to perform excellently.

Communicate face-to-face
Efficient and effective communication happens when teams interact face-to-face to share information and ideas. 

Base success on a working product
KPIs and project milestones are valuable for gauging progress, but delivering a functional product is the best measure of success.

Maintain sustainable development
Agile development is fast-paced, but that doesn’t mean the project team should become so overloaded with work that they burn out. Make workloads consistent and indefinitely sustainable.

Enhance agility through excellence
Focusing on great design and technical excellence creates a product that serves as a solid foundation for the next iteration, allowing your team to work faster with the same high-quality results.

Keep it simple
Aim to minimize the project team’s work by applying simple solutions to complex problems.

Let teams self-organize
Teams work best and generate the most value when they evolve organically based on each other’s strengths. 

Reflect to grow
Continuously monitor how your teams are performing through regular reporting and data visualization. Hold retrospective meetings to review what worked and what didn’t in the previous sprint, then incorporate those learnings into the next interval.

Types of agile frameworks

Because agile methodology’s primary feature is flexibility, it doesn’t have a set of hard and fast rules. As a result, various frameworks exist based on agile best practices:

The Scrum framework takes a collaborative approach to project execution. The team breaks work into sprints — tasks completed in a set (and short) period — to channel focus and drive results.

Kanban is a visual methodology that illustrates workflows, processes, and progress. Using a Kanban board, project managers divide tasks into three categories — To Do, Doing, and Done — to help team members quickly see work progress.

Extreme programming (XP) focuses on continuous development and product delivery. Like scrum, its customer-centric approach to agile software development incorporates end-user feedback to plan sprints and deliver the best possible results.

Adaptive project framework (APF) works well when project requirements are poorly defined. Teams operate in short iterative cycles, allowing for regular assessment of the tasks necessary to complete each iteration. These check-ins let the team quickly adapt to scope changes while ensuring they meet deadlines. 

Feature driven development (FDD) prioritizes developing software features based on customer feedback. This methodology is fast-paced, allowing frequent project updates and continuous improvement.

Dynamic systems development method (DSDM) focuses on the entire project life cycle rather than iterative sprints. It’s less flexible than other agile methodologies, but the process accommodates rework, and any development changes must be reversible. 

The main agile team roles

In most agile frameworks, project management responsibilities are fluid. But generally, team members fall into one of three categories.

Product owner
The product owner ensures the project team delivers the desired outcome. They connect developers to other teams and communicate directly with external stakeholders. 

Product owner accountabilities include:

  • Establishing project goals
  • Managing task backlog
  • Advocating for developers, customers, and end users

Scrum master
Scrum masters are facilitators, supporting the product owner and ensuring work moves forward. They’re responsible for:

  • Project road-mapping
  • Sprint planning
  • Administration
  • Change management


Developers are responsible for completing project tasks related to their discipline. A few common development roles are:

  • Programmers
  • Testers
  • Product designers
  • Writers
  • UX specialists

Agile project management made easier with Tempo

No matter the framework you use, leveraging the right tools ensures your project development process adheres to agile principles. 

Craft your portfolio vision effortlessly using Roadmunk, a tool designed to streamline planning with visually appealing roadmaps, suitable for presentation in boardroom settings. With Roadmunk, you can effectively communicate your strategy across the entire organization.

Enhance Roadmunk's capabilities with Structure, which takes high-level portfolio objectives and arranges them by theme. It seamlessly integrates with Jira, allowing you to extend its functionality into the lower levels of the hierarchy, encompassing capabilities, features, stories, and more, just like traditional Jira issue management.

Once you have your goals, roadmaps, and workflows in place, start visualizing progress on your initiatives with Custom Charts for Jira and Custom Jira Charts for Confluence. With Custom Charts you can build beautiful and customizable charts and dashboards to track sprint progress, velocity, blockers, project health, workloads, and much more.

For more resources like this visit tempo.io/agile-at-scale.

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