What is the Agile Manifesto? [Definition + Values + Principles]

During software development, being able to adapt and respond quickly to changes is a necessity.

That’s where you need to follow the agile processes and definitely want to make your efforts successful.

But, how do you assure to implement agile in a proper way?

The agile manifesto is the key which is a powerful set of values and principles that has revolutionized the software development approach we use.

You would be surprised to know that over 89% of respondents in the State of Agile report say that they use agile and receive benefits such as raising revenue, lowering costs, or reducing risk.

In this blog, we have described in detail the meaning of the agile manifesto, its values, and its principles, and answer the question of whether it’s still relevant today for software development.

However, if you want to understand the agile manifesto properly, you should know the basics of agile development. If you are not aware, we recommend you to read this complete guide on Agile software development.

So here we go.

What is the Agile Manifesto?

The agile manifesto is the combination of four values and twelve principles that serves as an ultimate guide for agile software development. The official name of this document is Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This guide was written by seventeen software developers who want to find an alternative to the traditional software development process driven by long documentation known as the waterfall model.

The official guide of the agile manifesto provides a clear and concise model for software development teams to follow the philosophy of agile software development and improve the whole process of the development journey. That said, software developers wanted to find an alternative to traditional software development methods which results in the agile manifesto.

Today, upon which famous mobile apps and software applications are built that include names like Spotify, Atlassian, and Salesforce. Now, let’s know why the agile manifesto is important.

Why was the Agile Manifesto Created?

The agile manifesto originated in 2001 as a response to the traditional methods of software development, like the Waterfall model. These older models have a heavy reliance on comprehensive planning and a strict and linear progression. Often the results in software were either outdated or didn’t fully meet the customer’s requirements due to the inability to adapt to the frequent changes.

That’s why the agile manifesto was introduced as a more flexible, iterative, and customer-centric approach to software development. The agile manifesto emphasized the importance of individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and, crucially, the ability to respond to change over strictly following a plan.

This new agile project management approach better accommodated the rapid pace and evolving requirements of software development, allowing agile teams to deliver software tuning with customer needs and fast-paced market shifts.

Let’s now learn about the four core values of the agile manifesto.

What are the Four Values of the Agile Manifesto?

These agile values form the foundation of the agile approach and help shape its associated methodologies, such as scrum software development and the Kanban method. Understanding the four values is essential for agile teams or any team or organization considering adopting agile practices.


  1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools

    As part of an agile team, you should prioritize human communication and collaboration. While processes and tools are certainly important, there is more importance on the team’s ability to work effectively together.

    The first value of agile suggests that effective team collaboration is important, which includes daily stand-up meetings or pair programming, with the goal being open communication to quickly address and resolve issues.

    This way, this value states that it’s the people who deliver projects, not the tools they use.

  2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation

    In traditional software development, development teams often spend a lot of time creating detailed documentation before any coding begins. However, agile argues that you should focus more on delivering working software.

    That means you should not neglect the documentation, but it should be developed in tandem with the software, offering users a working product from the get-go. Thus, your focus should be on delivering functional software rather than producing extensive documentation.

  3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation

    As an agile practitioner, be encouraged to work with your customers, not just for them. This means frequently collaborating with customers, understanding their changing requirements, and adapting your work accordingly.

    Here the goal is to foster a sense of partnership rather than getting tied down by rigid contract terms. Therefore, instead of being a passive receiver of requirements, the customer actively participates in the software development process journey.

  4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

    The final agile value encourages you to be flexible and open to change, even in the late stages of development. However, you should have a crucial plan. Agile understands that requirements can change over time.

    Rather than strictly adhering to an initial plan, you should adapt to the changes to ensure the end software product meets the end-customers requirements. This way, you streamline the entire agile process around these values and deliver the solutions that become worth spending pennies for the customers.

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Now let’s understand these four values in detail and how they correlate and are implemented through the agile principles.

What are the Twelve Principles of the Agile Manifesto?

The agile principles are designed to provide further guidance on how to effectively implement agile values during software development. Let’s understand each principle in the simple language of the agile manifesto as below.

  1. Satisfying the Customer Through Early and Continuous Delivery

    When developing software, your primary focus should be to satisfy the customer through the early and frequent delivery of valuable software. As per the first principle of agile, you have to deliver working software to customers as soon as possible and a practical and continuous cycle frequently.

    For instance,

    If you are developing a new online shopping platform, you could first deliver a basic version of the platform that supports browsing and purchasing. After releasing the basic version, further, in regular intervals, you could add other features like reviews, recommendations, and personalized user experiences, rather than waiting to deliver the entire version of the solution.

  2. Embracing Changing Requirements

    Even late in the development process, agile encourages you to be open to changing requirements. Among different software development methodologies, the agile methodology makes it possible due to its easier adaptability. Using agile, here you must understand that the changes suggested could be aimed to get a competitive advantage for the customer.

    For instance,

    During the middle of the project, the client decides they want to incorporate a feature that allows customers to personalize their shopping experience. As an agile team, you welcome this change and adjust the changes within your development schedule.

  3. Delivering Working Software Frequently

    The agile method focuses on delivering working software quickly and frequently, with a preference for shorter timescales. As soon you deliver the software product, the sooner you can get feedback and adapt.

    For example,

    As you are developing an online shopping platform, rather than delivering the complete online shopping platform at once, you release usable parts of it every two weeks. One week you deliver the product browsing feature. Next week, provide the shopping cart functionality and so forth.

  4. Collaborating with Customers

    You need to work closely with your customers throughout the project. The collaboration technique enables your team to understand the customer’s requirements in a better way. Accordingly, you can enhance the team’s ability to deliver software that provides value.

    For example,

    During the development of the shopping platform, you could set up regular meetings with the client to demonstrate your progress on the shopping platform, request feedback, and adjust your work based on their input.

  5. Supporting, Trusting, and Motivating Individuals

    Your team is the driving force behind the project. Therefore, you should support and trust them and create an environment where they feel motivated to do their best work.

    For example,

    If any team member proposes an innovative idea for a new recommendation feature, you support and motivate them to develop an idea further. By encouraging your team members, you can provide a sense of trust and innovation within the team.

  6. Communicating Face-to-face to Discuss the Requirements

    Wherever possible, opt for face-to-face conversations. Rather than communication over emails or project management tools, the F2F way of communication is the most efficient and effective method of conveying information.

    For example,

    During the entire online shopping platform development process, instead of discussing a feature’s development over emails, you hold quick meetings (either in-person or via video call) with your team to brainstorm and make decisions.

  7. Maintaining a Sustainable Development Pace

    Maintain the work at a certain pace so there is no burnout or the issues of long backlogs. By avoiding burnout and work backlogs, you can efficiently manage the project and deliver the sprints within the decided duration.

    For example,

    When you notice your team working late hours consistently to meet a project deadline, you step in and work to reprioritize tasks. The entire goal of your team is to ensure that the team maintains a sustainable pace by avoiding backlogs of work sprints.

  8. Prioritising Technical Excellence and Good Design

    During development, you should always strive for technical excellence and pleasing design. Following this principle helps to improve your agility. A well-designed software system helps to make the changes adaptable and easy to implement.

    For example,

    While developing the shopping platform, you prioritize clean coding practices and robust design principles. By following this approach, you maintain a high-quality, scalable, and adaptable product.

  9. Encourage Simplicity Over Complexity

    Do what’s necessary and avoid unnecessary complexity. Instead of maximizing the amount of work not done, focus on simplicity.

    For example,

    During the development of a complex feature, you realize that part of it is unnecessary for the current release and might complicate things. So, you keep it simple by postponing that aspect for a later iteration, focusing on delivering the core value now.

  10. Allowing Self-organizing Teams

    The best architectures, requirements, and designs come from self-organizing teams. Give your team the autonomy to make decisions and watch them excel.

    For example,

    Instead of strictly assigning tasks, you encourage your team to take ownership of their work. You allow them the autonomy to make decisions, fostering a sense of responsibility and innovation within the team.

  11. Regularly Reflecting and Adjusting

    At regular intervals, take time to reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust your behaviour accordingly. This reflection and adaptation are key to continuous improvement.

    For example,

    After each iteration, your team holds a retrospective meeting to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. You then use these insights to improve your practices in the subsequent iterations.

  12. Measuring Progress Through Working Software

    The primary measure of progress should be working software. Instead of relying on documentation or status reports, the proof of progress is in the tangible delivery of working software.

    For example,

    Progress isn’t measured by how much of the plan has been followed but by the usable features of the online shopping platform that have been delivered to the client and their customers. The end goal is always the working software.

However, before implementing the Agile method for your project, you should know the difference between the traditional method vs Agile approach. Read this blog post on the complete differences between the Agile and Waterfall model.

By following this post, get an idea of how Agile is different and what are the unique points because of which it is most popular among worldwide developers.

Let’s now know the relevance of the agile method in today’s software development world.

Is Agile Manifesto Relevant in Modern Software Development?

Yes, here are the reasons.

  • Adaptability: Agile practices enable software developers to adapt rapidly to changing requirements.
  • Customer Focus: The agile manifesto emphasizes a customer-centric approach, aligning with modern businesses’ focus on customer satisfaction.
  • Efficiency: Agile methodologies increase efficiency by breaking the development process into manageable iterations.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Agile promotes regular communication and collaboration within development teams and with stakeholders.
  • Continuous Improvement: The agile process encourages regular reflection and adaptation, supporting a culture of continual learning and improvement.

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This is all about the agile manifesto. Do you have questions regarding the agile method? Check our following FAQs section.

FAQ About Agile Manifesto

  1. What are the common misconceptions about the agile manifesto?

  2. Here are the common misconceptions about the agile manifesto.

    • Project planning is absent in the entire agile software development.
    • Eliminating documentation from the process of development.
    • Lacking responsibility and accountability during the development.
    • Aims for speeding instead of quality and sustainable development.
  3. What benefits do you get by applying the agile manifesto principles?

  4. By applying the agile manifesto principles, you can:

    • Reduce risks by delivering working software incrementally.
    • Increase customer satisfaction through continuous delivery and flexibility to changes.
    • Boost team morale by encouraging a self-organizing and collaborative environment.
    • Improve software quality with regular reflections and adaptations.
    • Enhance software visibility for stakeholders through regular updates and reviews.

Use Agile Method for Effective and Organized Software Development

In conclusion, the Agile Manifesto’s values and principles serve as a crucial framework. This framework helps software development teams to navigate the dynamic landscape of software development with greater adaptability and efficiency. Adopting this agile philosophy can transform not only your software projects, but also your team’s communication, collaboration, and responsiveness to change, leading to more successful outcomes.

Are you looking to hire agile software teams for your organization? Do you want to develop software solutions for your organization or business? Let’s talk. We are an experienced software development company in Canada, having experience in developing and deploying 300+ custom software solutions. Connect with us to discuss your requirements.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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