What is the proper context to adopt Agile?

The Agile Manifesto emerged two decades ago and the short but revolutionary document went on to change the way companies and individuals develop software products, and in recent years run marketing campaigns or even discover new illness cures.

From startups to enterprises, many businesses take pride in being Agile and working in an Agile way. With such a wide adopting, we couldn’t help but wonder if Agile is one-size-fits-all and if the essence of the four values that make up the Manifesto hasn’t diluted.

We talked to nine Agile experts and practitioners to understand when is the right context to adopt Agile and if it's the right approach for every type of product and organization.

We can say the essence of the Agile philosophy is to enable teams to adapt fast in an environment dictated by change. Is this still holding up, and is Agile fit for any context or type of software product? 

The consensus is that Agile works best when you operate in a market with many competitors, where you need to embrace change.

“If you are in an environment where you have a lot of competitors or when many external or internal factors are influencing your business, you need to adapt - that is when the Agile mindset can truly help.” Ralph van Roosmalen, Agile Consultant, Agile Strides

Agile philosophy is a good choice when your software product is very likely to change as you don’t have the exact requirements for the full product.

“If you have a product that is fully defined, there is no need to use Agile. However, if your product is likely to change because you ask for feedback from stakeholders with every release, then I think Agile is the right choice - that is the whole concept, adapting to a changing context.” Flaviu Zapca, Co-founder, CoreBuild

"Two main questions you need to have in mind when considering Agile are: “Is the product completely defined?", "Does my product need adjustments along the way?" Raluca Meyer, Founder & CEO, Viralink

Gathering feedback is an essential aspect of Agile and products and teams that require feedback benefit the most from using Agile methodologies.

“Agile works best for ongoing product development - such as modernization projects where you start from scratch and require constant feedback. If you are building a simple mobile app and know upfront what it should look like, then don’t do Agile as you won’t reap the full benefits.“ Mircea Alexandru, Software Development Manager, Mark Information

So is Agile fit for any type of context, product, and organization? The paradigm around Agile is changing, from implementing Agile only in dynamic environments, with many changes, to using Agile to induce change.

“I believe Agile can work for any context and product. With this paradigm change, you can use Agile even when you develop a well-defined product - as you can iteratively improve the process. There is not one single definition of Agile and organizations such as PMI don’t discuss in terms of Agile or Waterfall anymore, but about a way of managing projects in which you can combine practices from both approaches: more predictable or more adaptable ones.” Agile Consultant, Rolf Consulting

Special thanks to our contributors for sharing their insights and ideas with us:

Ralph van Roosmalen, Founder & Agile Consultant, Agile Strides 

Raluca Meyer, Founder &CEO, Viralink 

Flaviu Zapca, Co-founder, CoreBuild 

Alexandra Filip, Scrum Master, Wirtek

Adina Balea, Director of Software Engineering Services, Wirtek  

Ionuț Pop, Scrum Master, Wirtek 

Mircea Alexandru, Software Development Manager, Mark Information

Vasi Axinte, Senior Software Developer, Wirtek

Rolf Consulting

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