Agile Methodologies: Key Principles and Best Practices for Developers

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If you’ve ever been involved in development—whether as a software dev or a designer, then you’re probably familiar with how Agile works. 

Popular in development circles, Agile is a pretty fantastic concept that focuses on team flexibility throughout production to achieve stellar product output. Some of the ways Agile is implemented in real work scenarios are through:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)

Founded in 2001 at the cusp of the tech boom, Agile is now one of the most widely used methodologies in software development. Its use has even branched out to other areas like design! 

But what makes Agile so special, and what are the key principles behind Agile methodologies that have captured the world? 

Different Types of Agile Methodologies


An Agile framework that uses short iterations called “sprints” to deliver incremental value. It emphasizes collaboration and continuous improvement through regular meetings and feedback.


A visual workflow management system that optimizes work efficiency. Tasks are visualized on a Kanban board, allowing teams to limit work in progress, identify bottlenecks, and improve flow.

Extreme Programming (XP)

An Agile methodology focused on continuous feedback and delivering high-quality software. It includes practices like test-driven development and frequent releases to ensure customer involvement.

Key Principles for Agile Development

Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery is the core concept behind doing Sprints in development. Instead of doing extensive work on a project that could last months, work is broken down into sprints—which typically last two to three weeks long. 

There are many benefits to doing sprints and following the practice of continuous delivery, such as:  

  • Increased speed to market;
  • Faster release of features;
  • Bugs are addressed more frequently;
  • Reduced costs;
  • Improved quality.

As features are developed in a sprint, they are also tested thoroughly before being deployed and released. This reduces the amount of work that the dev team will eventually have to do because it enables teams to catch bugs and issues quickly—not months down the line. 


One of the pitfalls of many large projects is the lack of flexibility. Things are planned ahead of time, and when these plans are not followed, it causes a disruption in the workflow that could have disastrous consequences for the overall status of the project. 

Before Agile, dev teams struggled with flexibility because there was so much getting in the way of doing actual development work—documentation, complications, and lack of responsiveness. 

In contrast, Agile is the complete opposite. Because of the inherent collaboration and intent behind Agile development, teams can work much faster but more flexibly. 

With Agile, blockers are addressed and removed as soon as possible, teams can interact with product owners, and stakeholders are generally involved throughout the whole process. 

This allows development teams to constantly adjust to the project’s needs without sacrificing time or the quality of work.

The agile software development life cycle, characterized by its iterative and incremental approach, empowers development teams to adapt seamlessly to changing requirements and stakeholder feedback.


Agile is rooted in excellent collaboration between the development team, stakeholders, and other individuals involved in a project. Without collaboration, the core tenets of Agile methodology would quickly crumble. 

The best thing about Agile is that it makes teams move quicker than they would with other methods (like Waterfall), but it also means there’s a bit more work required to coordinate everything and improve communication across the board. 

If the team members don’t completely understand a specific feature or functionality, there will be plenty of problems when a sprint occurs. Thus, collaboration and communication are a must.


Simplicity is a vastly underrated aspect of Agile. With simplicity, Agile teams can focus on the most value-adding aspects of a product and not get bogged down by the complexity of other features and functionalities. 

If a team follows simplicity as a key principle, they can reduce any effort expended on non-value-adding tasks. In essence, teams can use this principle to maximize the work they are not doing and still get the same quality product.

In the context of software development, embracing simplicity as an Agile principle can be further enhanced by leveraging nearshore development services. By partnering with a nearshore development team, businesses can tap into specialized expertise and resources that simplify the development process, streamline communication, and ensure efficient collaboration.

Constant Improvement

Constant improvement is a key concept behind the success of Agile. All the steps being done during a sprint, like standups, demos, and retrospectives (more on this later), should ideally move the team toward improvement. 

And when those things have been improved, there will always be more things that can still be enhanced! 

Popularly known as the concept of “kaizen,” constant improvement is something that many dev teams seek because it helps the project keep up with the rapidly changing nature of tech and business.

In the context of HR management, constant improvement can also be achieved by implementing a cloud-based HR system, which enables seamless updates and enhancements to processes, employee data management, and overall HR operations.


Agile methodology assigns certain roles to specific people. For example, you could have a combination of the following (or more) in your team: 

  • Project Manager;
  • UI/UX Designer;
  • Front-end Developer;
  • Back-end developer;
  • Product Owner;
  • Stakeholder;
  • QA Testers.

But even though there is a project manager or scrum master in many teams, this doesn’t necessarily mean that project managers have the ultimate authority. It’s much less about hierarchy than it is about being a self-organized team of capable individuals. 

A team following best Agile practices should be able to move smoothly and be self-sufficient without requiring too much instruction. Autonomy is a key aspect of developing self-organizing teams, and the results of Agile truly show the value of being a well-oiled machine! 

Using Work to Measure Progress

Measuring progress is one of the most important things organizations can do to improve. It is the best way to ensure that a project is moving forward as intended and the team will not stumble near the very end. 

When doing sprints, developers often use the concept of story points to attach value to any given ticket or task. Story points are essentially a measure of how long a particular ticket is going to take, and the valuation of story points can vary from team to team. 

Using story points is a good example of how well Agile utilizes work to measure progress. At the end of each sprint, the project manager or scrum master will often report on how many story points were done during that sprint and compare it with the performance from previous sprints. 

This way, teams have a better understanding of how much was actually achieved during the sprint!

Best Practices for Agile Development

Work Together Daily

Working together daily is absolutely essential for an Agile team. A team working on a project should be closely knit and must work together on a day-to-day basis to keep visibility high during the entire development process. 

Although team members have their areas of expertise, working with others will help reduce team dependency. Thus, questions can now be answered by three people versus just one. Tickets can be clarified by any team member, and it isn’t just one person who knows what to do. 

Close proximity adds to the value of Agile because it helps teams become more self-sufficient and continue working even if one team member is not around.

Although working together daily is crucial for an Agile team, it’s also important to acknowledge the value of individual expertise and specialization. This collaboration enables the team to tackle complex challenges collectively and distribute knowledge effectively. For instance, if one team member specializes in technical analysis, another may have insights into market trends, which can contribute to informed decision-making and overall project success.


Standups are regular meetings with the development team—typically held daily—where teams can discuss their tasks. A common format for standups is saying:

  • What you worked on yesterday;
  • What are you planning to work on today;
  • What blockers might you have for your tasks;

So a developer might say something along the lines of: “I worked on tickets 456-464 yesterday, and I am planning on addressing tickets 465-470 today. No blockers.”

This is an opportunity for the team to stay in touch with what the other team members are doing and make sure no issues are preventing any member from completing their tasks. It is also a good avenue to create accountability since you are reporting your planned tasks for the rest of the day. 

There is no right or wrong way to do a standup, but best practices indicate that these meetings should not be hour-long discussions. Doing so would be inefficient and would take valuable work time away from your development team. 

Instead, standups should be kept to 15 or so minutes, variable depending on the size of your team. 

Celebrate Success

Everyone likes doing a good job. Whether you follow Agile principles or not, succeeding in your work or current project is such a great feeling that’s even better shared with the team. 

If there’s a team member that goes above and beyond to contribute to the sprint, make sure to give them recognition, even if you’re their lateral. And if a sprint was an overall success and the stakeholders loved the results, make sure to celebrate with the team! 

Celebrating can be more challenging if you’re working remotely, but it’s still very much possible. Celebrating and congratulating your teammates will boost morale and might even help the team do even better in the next sprint! 

Use Project Management Tools

Development usually requires much more than just coding. The entire development process, from ideation and design to development and deployment, is a lengthy process requiring a breadth of capabilities and skillsets. 

As a result, it can be a challenge to manage everything that is needed to make a project work. 

If you’re having issues delegating tasks and activities to your team, it’s high time to get a project management tool to save you so much time and effort. 

There are countless project management apps on the market, and each of them has its own pros and cons. Some apps work better for certain projects and might not perform as well on other types of projects. 

Some of the more popular project management tools today include:

A project management and collaboration tool where your team can do workflows, track tasks, and even have helpful Gantt charts of your project.


Another project management tool where you can assign tasks, create dashboards, track time, and much more. Asana also offers plenty of integration with other tools, so it’s a fantastic way to simplify and automate your team’s workflow. 


 A tool that utilizes boards and cards to give projects visualization to help prioritize and organize tasks.


Mainly used for software development, Jira has numerous functionalities, including issue tracking, task management, time recording, task assigning, and a wide variety of many other capabilities. 


 An all-in-one workspace that can be a good addition to any task management tool. While Notion does have capacities for task management as well, it’s incredibly useful for jotting down ideas and bringing concepts to life with full-fledged plans. 

Keep Reflecting on Previous Sprints

One of the most crucial ceremonies of Agile software development is doing a sprint retrospective. 

A sprint retrospective is a meeting or gathering where all contributors have a safe space to express themselves. There are many different sprint retrospective formats, and the team should choose which one will fit  them the best, but generally, retrospectives follow some version of the following: 

  • A discussion on what went well;
  • A discussion on what did not go well (and should not be done for the next sprints) ;
  • A discussion on what new concept the team should implement in the next sprint;
  • A discussion on what action steps to take to address the concerns of the team. 

Constant reflection of what truly happened during development is key to forging strong connections in development teams and improving their overall quality of work. 


Overall, Agile Methodology encapsulates tons of valuable ideas for your project! Agile helps your team become more streamlined, work more efficiently, and become more capable of addressing issues and bugs as they arise. 

And although Agile is most frequently used in software development, it can be useful for any other project with a team. Just remember to keep collaborating, keep improving, and break things down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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