10 top resources for Agile beginners
If you’re new to Agile you’re probably awash in a sea of information: competing interpretations; contradictory advice; proposals and critiques of various methodologies/approaches. The following list of resources is our recommended jumping off point for Agile newcomers.
Whether you’re coming at it from a developer’s or project manager’s perspective these 10 resources should give you the basic building blocks you need to start forming your own conception of Agile.
Go straight to the source with the document that started it all. Written by 17 software developers looking to come up with a new approach to lightweight software development, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development simply lays out four values of the new philosophy.
The Agile Manifesto’s brevity has left it open to countless interpretations (see Olaf Lewitz’s blog for one nice example.)
Formed by some of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, the Agile Alliance is a non-profit which promotes and supports Agile software development. They have a great list of resources for Agile aficionados from beginner to expert level.
One of the founders of the Scrum Alliance, Mike Cohn is a giant in the Agile world. His company, Mountain Goat Software, provides a comprehensive array of training courses and learning resources. The website also provides a nice, succinct overview of Agile and Scrum which is a nice bridge between the Manifesto and more technical literature.
Duarte Vasco is an experienced Agile coach and a prolific blogger on the topic. His posts range from practical advice to discussions of pure theory. The latter are always engrossing and provide a great framework for developing your own take on the Agile philosophy.
Another experienced Agile and Scrum consultant, Roman Pichler is the creator of the Vision Board – which we use all the time at Manifesto for visualising product strategies – and an extensive set of Agile and Scrum resources ranging from presentations to podcasts.
If you’re in search of yet more Agile related accompaniments to your bus journeys then look no further than Agile FM. In this series of interviews conducted by Jochen ‘Joe’ Krebs, the great and good of the Agile world share practices and approaches refined by years of real world experience.
Scrum is a software development framework that adheres to the Agile principles. It was developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland – two of the authors of the Agile Manifesto – and is the framework which we use most often at Manifesto. In this YouTube video of a Google Tech Talk given in 2007, the Scrum creator introduces the core concepts and common implementation issues.
Once you’ve watched the video the next logical step is to jump into the official, and definitive, guide to scrum at scrumguides.org – the site Schwaber set up after leaving the Scrum Alliance (who still provide Certified ScrumMaster accreditation).
Of course Scrum isn’t the only way of working in Agile. Martin Fowler – another Agile Manifesto signatory – provides a rundown of the various flavours (including XP and Crystal) as part of a much more comprehensive essay covering the whys and wherefores of Agile.
As with any learning process, hyperlinks will only take you so far. Sooner or later you’ll come to the point where you need to start bouncing ideas and experiences off other practitioners, project managers or developers. Meetup has a plethora of Agile groups ranging from discipline oriented (like this Agile UX group) to framework specific (like this XP group) meetups.
Just as I was about to hit publish I remembered one more resource that’s potentially very helpful for Agile newcomers and veterans alike – the Agile Skills Project Wiki is a community driven attempt to establish a baseline of skills that Agile developers need.