The Agile Software Development Manifesto became a formal proclamation made by the key players in the software field in 2001. Seventeen professionals met to discuss the issues they had with documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes. Each of the people who attended wanted things to change, but individually there was little that they could achieve. Together they discussed how to deliver the services that they felt their customers deserved, and it resulted in 12 principles that now act as a guide to creating and delivering a people-centric approach to software development. The Agile Manifesto.

What does the Agile Manifesto state?
As an alternative to the software development processes that were being used, such as the ‘waterfall method’, the Agile method is focused on keeping things simple. The 12 principles are also concerned with customer satisfaction, testing the development often so that changes can be made early in the process if necessary, and teams working effectively to create software that is sustainable. All in all, the Manifesto details how a business should run to be efficient and effective in delivering high-quality software that meets their clients’ requests.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

How is the Agile Manifesto implemented?
There are various models that implement the Agile Manifesto with SCRUM and Kanban being two of the most popular. Both have similarities due to being client focused; however, they also have significant differences.

Scrum is based on multiple small teams working interdependently and requires well-trained, specialised teams who can work effectively as a unit while relying on other teams to ensure a project is successful. For further reading see my slides below.

Kanban requires a more generalised team as in this model only one team is required, and so the team members must be able to complete tasks throughout the entire project.

There are also differences in how the work is organised and distributed, however, what they have in common is that the customer is key. They both deliver work as and when it is finished, they keep the customer involved and up to date with the progress, they do not use unnecessary documentation that can lengthen the timeframe of the project and they test their output rigorously and regularly. These two models are fantastic examples of the Agile Manifesto in progress.

How is the Agile Manifesto used in business?
The Manifesto is used as a guide of how a business should operate. The 12 key principles effectively give a list of what should happen throughout the running of a project and the attitude that workers should have towards their work. The effect of incorporating the Agile Manifesto into business practice is that any organisation not already focused on their clients will have a shift in focus. If followed, the Manifesto forces businesses to be efficient in their practice, be flexible accept that changes will be required, and be critical of their work.

Can the Agile Manifesto be adapted for the Health and Care Sector?
While it was created specifically for the software development world, the Agile Manifesto can be adapted to almost any situation where a service or product is being offered. To use the Agile Manifesto, the principles simply need to be adapted to focus on patients and patient care rather than customers, and treatment services rather than software development processes. With these changes, the Manifesto could have been created for the Health and Care sector.

Is Health and Care ready for the Agile approach?
The Health and Care sector is a prime candidate for an Agile overhaul. The focus of many organisations has slipped from being centred on the patients and now rests on budgets, staff shortages and many other negative aspects. When changes are attempted there is usually this heavyweight, documentation led the process that the Agile Manifesto was created to combat. Things take too long, they are not designed for patients in mind and too often they are not adequately tested to ensure they are working throughout the process of implementation. An amended version of the Agile Manifesto that focuses on Health and Care is welcomed and long overdue. With guidance such as this in place, health organisations can get back to doing what they should be doing best – caring for patients and ensuring that the care they give is more than simply adequate.

Can we co-write a Health and Care Agile manifesto and principles?
Following from this I am organising a session where anyone who would like to contribute to a working draft of a manifesto that is patient rather than customer/client and software product focused. If you are interested please connect with me.

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