Behind The Buzzword: Agile

Appropriate Use Cases In Software Development

Steven Lerner

Digital Transformation professionals are often inundated with a barrage of new business buzzwords. Does a particular buzzword refer to meaningful technology, or is it just another example of meaningless terminology? Each week, Enterprise Mobility Exchange publishes Behind The Buzzword, a quick overview of new technology jargon and how professionals view it.

Referring to agile as a mere buzzword does not seem fair because it is a critical component for many IT professionals. Agile has greatly impacted the software development field and it is a useful concept. However, there’s no denying that agile has also transformed into another business buzzword. Today, we are going to explore how agile became just another piece of corporate jargon.

First, let’s examine the definition and history of agile. In February 2001, a group of 17 software practitioners from around the world gathered in Utah with the goal of selecting a framework for developmental projects. They established the concept behind agile software development, which is known as the agile manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile has emerged as one of the most popular methodologies in the industry, with over 85% of software developers using it, according to Stack Overflow. Following an agile framework allows software developers to successfully respond to changes during unstable times. By using this framework, critical software projects are on track and are not being left behind. Many organizations have shifted app development from a traditional, or waterfall, method to agile in order to increase flexibility and diminish risks.

Although agile is not a buzzword on the surface, it has started to stray away from its original concept, resulting in IT professionals using the term loosely. Despite the agile manifesto clearly devaluing processes and tools, some software developers still write out lengthy project instructions before development and call it agile. There are also teams that might employ certain aspects of agile, but not the entire framework, which waters down the concept.

Complicating the matter are business professionals who have “borrowed’ agile to refer to skills such as leadership, readiness, and adaptability. In fact, saying that a business unit’s strength is adaptability is silly, because every organization should be able to adapt to change. There are even cases of businesses that cling to agile as a way to avoid committing to deadlines. All of these cases diminish the original intent of agile.

In conclusion, agile is a perfectly acceptable term to use in software development, but refrain from overusing it in other business settings.

Are there any technology buzzwords or phrases that you are tired of hearing? Share them with Editor Steven Lerner by emailing