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Debunking Agile in Project vs Development Methodology

Posted-on February 2024 By Will Leslie

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In the world of project management and software development, the term Agile has been both a beacon of innovation and a source of considerable debate.

Recently, within our network at iO Associates, we delved into this discussion by conducting a poll to uncover the favored methodology for development. The surprising revelation? An overwhelming majority championed Agile. Yet, this sparked even further discussion, with some arguing that Agile relates solely to project management and not to the development process itself. So, where does the truth lie in this dichotomy? Please continue reading to find out more.

At its core, Agile encapsulates a spectrum of business wider than the confines of software development. It's employed in Project Management, encompassing frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, XP, or APF. This eradicates the idea that Agile is used singularly as a means of project management. However, amidst these diverse thoughts, it's evident that the resonance of Agile predominantly aligns with our network's perception of Agile Software Development.

Could it be that our attempt to distil this multifaceted concept into a singular poll option was wrong? The error lies in considering 'Agile software development' as a solitary free-standing prescribed methodology. In actuality, it's a mindset—a set of values rooted in the 2001 Agile Manifesto. Through our conversations with our network, it seems like Agile Software Development and Agile Project Management are almost two separate methods, inspired by the same concepts and with similar names, but entirely different.

Red Hat succinctly summarised this distinction in 2022, arguing “that the concept of ‘Agile methodology’ is itself an agile idea, responding to the needs of its customers (that is, software developers) through changing times”. That is to say, the beauty of agile is in the eye of the beholder, and agile can be relevant for anyone if they want it to be.

So, is 'Agile' an apt term when discussing software development? The answer, it seems, lies in the dynamic nature of Agile itself. It's not merely a label but a malleable philosophy that accommodates various interpretations and applications. Agile can be what you need it to be—it’s relevant and applicable across diverse domains if one chooses to harness its principles.

To finish, it is important to note that the Agile debate illuminates a crucial facet of its nature: adaptability. Agile isn't confined to a single box, it's a concept that evolves, shapes itself, and finds relevance in different landscapes. Whether it's steering software development or orchestrating project management, Agile remains a fluid, adaptable ideology—a testament to its enduring relevance in professional landscapes.

So what do you think, is Agile an appropriate term to use when talking about software development? Get in touch to let us know your thoughts or talk to us about any hiring problems you might need resolving.