Agile methodology: A guide to adaptive software delivery

Break free from slow, unresponsive development patterns and deliver continuous customer value.

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What is Agile?

Agile is an approach to software development that places flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction at its core. Unlike traditional methodologies with rigid, defined stages, Agile focuses on embracing change and delivering functional software incrementally.

Instead of fixating on processes and tools, Agile prioritizes individuals and their interactions, allowing teams to adapt and improve continuously. This adaptability is one of Agile’s fundamental principles, enabling development teams to stay nimble and responsive.

A look at Agile's history

The roots of Agile stretch back to the early 2000s. At the time, many teams followed the waterfall model, a linear approach consisting of distinct stages that flow in a strict order. These stages include requirements gathering, system design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

The waterfall model of software development

While waterfall had its merits, it suffered from inflexibility and a lack of customer involvement. Defects were often not discovered until after weeks or even months of development work, leading to prolonged and costly debugging cycles. In response, a group of forward-thinking software practitioners crafted the Agile Manifesto, a foundational document that laid the groundwork for Agile methodologies.

In the Agile model, you don’t have to wait for the entire project to be completed to see results. Instead, Agile promotes iterative development and customer feedback, which helps to ensure that your product remains on track and customer-centric Where waterfall clings to a sequential, step-by-step process, Agile thrives on adaptability and incremental value delivery.

Agile development method

Over the years, Agile has evolved and diversified, giving rise to various frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. These frameworks provide teams with options for tailoring Agile practices to their specific needs, ensuring that the approach remains versatile and adaptable to different projects and teams.

How Agile works

Agile focuses on breaking work into smaller, manageable increments and adapting to changing requirements. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the key stages of the Agile software delivery life cycle and how they come together to create efficient and customer-focused software development.

Agile software delivery life cycle

Define the project scope, objectives, and the initial backlog of work.


Collaboratively create a prioritized list of tasks, known as the product backlog, considering customer and stakeholder input.

Sprint Planning

Select a subset of tasks from the product backlog to work on in a sprint, with input from the team, customers, and stakeholders.


Develop the selected tasks during the sprint, with daily stand-up meetings to monitor progress.


Demonstrate the completed work to stakeholders and customers to gather their feedback.


Reflect on the sprint's process and customer/stakeholder feedback to identify improvements for the next iteration.


Continue to plan, execute, review, and iterate in subsequent sprints, integrating ongoing feedback and input from customers and stakeholders.

The Agile software delivery life cycle usually occurs in sprints, which are short, time-bound cycles lasting two to four weeks. During these sprints, the team focuses on specific tasks or user stories, allowing for constant adaptation and maintaining a customer-centric focus. Daily stand-up meetings keep everyone aligned and help resolve issues in real-time, while retrospectives held at the end of each sprint enable continuous improvement by reflecting on past successes and challenges.

This approach ensures that Agile is committed to delivering high-quality software while remaining responsive to change.

The benefits of Agile

The advantages of Agile adoption are substantial and extend to every facet of software development. By choosing Agile, you opt for speed, customer satisfaction, and superior product quality over rigid and unresponsive development approaches.

Benefits of Agile
Faster time-to-market

Agile's iterative approach means that working software is delivered in shorter cycles, accelerating your time-to-market.

Improved collaboration

Agile promotes regular communication and teamwork, ensuring that developers, testers, and stakeholders are all on the same page.


Agile's adaptability allows you to respond quickly to changing requirements and market dynamics.

Higher quality software

Frequent testing and reviews lead to higher-quality code and better customer satisfaction.

Customer-centric development

Agile keeps the customer at the forefront, enabling you to build products that truly meet their needs.

Agile enables faster time-to-market, empowers your team to keep a tight grip on project progress, and spurs productivity among team members. The emphasis on delivering working software in small, rapid increments ensures that your customers receive value consistently. Moreover, Agile equips you to pivot quickly as market conditions and requirements evolve.

Agile, DevOps & CI/CD

Agile and DevOps are a natural fit, like two pieces of a puzzle that complete a picture.

Agile focuses on iterative development and adaptability to change, allowing teams to deliver value to customers incrementally. DevOps, on the other hand, emphasizes collaboration between development and operations teams, aiming for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to enhance the overall efficiency of the development process. Together, Agile and DevOps form a cohesive approach that spans the entire software development lifecycle, from planning and coding to testing, deployment, and monitoring.

Agile’s iterative development process aligns perfectly with the automated testing and deployment facets of CI/CD, reducing manual errors and accelerating the software delivery process. This alignment ensures that software development and deployment remain closely connected, leading to rapid and reliable software releases. The combination of Agile and CI/CD streamlines your development process, making it more efficient and effective, while reducing the risk of deployment issues and bottlenecks.

By merging Agile, DevOps, and CI/CD, you create a symbiotic relationship that supports a seamless transition from development to deployment. This collaboration ensures that customer feedback is continuously integrated throughout development, and that features are efficiently deployed, maintaining a steady rhythm of value delivery.

How to get started with Agile

To start your Agile journey, begin by forming cross-functional teams that encompass diverse skill sets, including developers, testers, and business analysts. These teams should work closely together to set clear, measurable goals that align with your business objectives and customer needs.

Next, choose an Agile methodology that suits your team’s preferences and project requirements. Popular Agile methodologies include Scrum, which emphasizes time-boxed development cycles called sprints, and Kanban, which promotes a flow-based approach with visual work tracking.

Regularly assessing your team’s performance through retrospectives is key to Agile’s continuous improvement philosophy. Be open to making changes based on feedback and metrics; this is central to the Agile mindset.

Finally, be sure to select the right tools for Agile practices. There are numerous project management and collaboration tools designed to support Agile teams, aiding in project tracking, communication, and transparency. CircleCI’s leading continuous integration and delivery platform can help you optimize and accelerate your delivery cycles, facilitating the iterative and adaptive principles of the Agile methodology.

As you embark on your Agile journey, keep in mind that Agile is more than just a methodology; it’s a smart way to work that empowers your team to deliver better software, faster.

Elevate your software delivery with Agile

Agile offers a modern and effective approach to software development. It has a rich history and a wealth of benefits. When comparing Agile to the traditional waterfall approach, the differences are clear, with Agile’s adaptability and customer-centric focus providing a competitive edge.

Combining Agile with DevOps and CI/CD gives you the ultimate toolkit for faster, more reliable software releases. To adopt Agile in your organization, form diverse teams, set clear goals, choose the right tools, and continuously improve through consistent feedback and retrospectives. As you adopt Agile practices and integrate them into your development process, you’ll find that Agile is more than a methodology; it’s a powerful way to enhance your software delivery practice.