Top 10 Books on Agile Software Development

James Phoenix
James Phoenix

Agile software development was first based on the Agile Manifesto, which is some two decades old now. While things have moved on since then, Agile remains one of the most popular models or paradigms in modern software development. 

Many Agile terms and terminology sound alien to those unfamiliar with Agile or software development in general. There are Scrums, Sprints, and many other ways of organising Agile methodologies and processes to complete software development tasks quicker and more efficiently.

The best Agile software development books and learning resources are the perfect way to kickstart one’s experience in Agile.

So, here is a list of the best Agile software development books available today. 


What is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development is a type of software development methodology that utilises an iterative bite-size approach to deliver software in a timely manner. Agile software development is an iterative, incremental process for developing software and is generally characterised by frequent feedback and adaptation. 

Scrums are used to organise Sprints and other tasks, which essentially streamline multi-disciplinary teams towards achieving tight software development deadlines. Agile is focused on speed by reducing bottlenecks in the development process. 

Agile software development is based on the Agile Manifesto, and there are 12 main principles, though these have been thoroughly modernised in recent years. The main purpose of agile software development is to deliver high-quality software in a timely manner by continuously adjusting to the client’s ever-evolving needs. 

This iterative approach allows for fast feedback, which adjusts the software according to needs. Agile software development also focuses on collaboration and close contact between teams. 

Agile software development also encourages the use of automated testing. Automated testing allows the development team to quickly check that the software is working as expected and has fewer defects. This reduces the amount of time needed to manually test the software and speeds up the development process.

Overall, agile software development is an iterative, incremental process for quickly delivering high-quality software to customers. Agile software development emphasises customer collaboration, fast feedback, and working software. By following the principles of agile software development, software teams are able to deliver software faster while also ensuring that the software is meeting customer needs.


The Epic Guide to Agile: More Business Value on a Predictable Schedule with Scrum – Dave Todaro

Many organisations and teams adopt Agile only to be disappointed by the results. It’s true that Agile is probably simpler on paper than it is in reality, and issues can plague the reality of setting up Agile processes where they didn’t really exist before. 

This excellent and well-reviewed book has the answers to the Agile challenges that hold teams back. It describes every step of the process holistically focussed on the production of Agile products, managing teams, dealing with issues, cultural changes, etc. 

The book contains:

  • Anecdotes from professional practice of Agile in real-world situations
  • Effective ways to organise Scrums 
  • Sprint planning
  • Issues and troubleshooting problems 
  • Testing
  • Product launch, deployment, etc

Suitable For:

Anyone involved in Agile, product managers and Scrum masters. 


The Art of Agile Development – James Shore  and Shane Warden

This practically-driven guide contains comprehensive guidance to Agile software development, from rules and theory to practical implementation. It assesses what Agile is at its core, though bear in mind that this book was written in 2007, and things have evolved since. Even so, this provides a very useful look back at the core tenets of Agile and rates as an evergreen guide with superb reviews. 

It seeks to teach the answers to questions like: 

  • How should I work with my Agile team?
  • How can we adopt Agile development?
  • How does QA fit in?
  • What if I can’t get my customer to collaborate?
  • What metrics should we report?
  • What is my product roadmap?

Suitable For:

Anyone involved in Agile, product managers and Scrum masters. 


Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process – Kenneth S. Rubin

This large book is all about Scrums – the most popular Agile process. Scrums are used to rapidly develop working software using iterative processes. This book by leading Scrum coach Kenny Rubin contains tons of professional insights, anecdotes and guidance for anyone looking to learn about Scrums and how they work in professional business situations. 

This large book is well-written with easy-to-digest language and contains over 200 illustrations with visual icon language – perfect for visual learners. 

This is probably one of the highest-selling books on Scrums and Agiles and has many excellent reviews. It’s a go-to guide for anyone likely to work in organisations or teams that emphasise Scrums. 

Suitable For:

Anyone involved/working with/soon to be working with Scrums in Agile. 


Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum – Mike Cohn

Another Scrum-oriented book. Here, a leading agile consultant and coach, Mike Cohn, provides numerous guidance, recommendations, tips, and real-world case studies from his professional practice and experience. Cohn has assisted hundreds of teams with their Agile processes and his advice is superb to have available in book form. He’s authored many other books on programming and they’re all worth checking out. 

Read the top 10 books on Python here.

Agile development can be tougher to implement than many assume, and team leaders and members demand effective solutions to common Agile issues. Challenges include helping team members assimilate their new roles, structuring teams, scaling, working with remote teams and implementing continuous improvement. 

There are sections labelled “Things To Try Now”, which contain actionable best-in-class tips. There are conversations included for communicating Agile to teams and stakeholders. 

Topics include:  

Throughout, Cohn presents “Things to Try Now” sections based on his most successful advice. 

Practical ways to get started immediately–and “get good” fast

  • Overcoming resistance to Scrums
  • Building effective teams
  • Choosing which agile processes and practices to use or experiment with
  • Sprints, planning, and quality techniques
  • HR and project management

Suitable For:

Anyone involved/working with/soon to be working with Scrums in Agile. 


Scrum: The art of doing twice the work in half the time – Jeff Sutherland

Yet another Scum-oriented book by one of the founding fathers of the methodology. This is true to its title – it’s about taking advantage of the speed-oriented benefits of Agile. 

It contains lots of narrative and stories from the heydays of Agile and Scrums, which is great for anyone who enjoys a deep context of the subject. It also teaches the culture of Agile and how it tends to function in genuine professional contexts. 

This book is superb for the project management side of Agile as well as those working in Agile teams or Agile-culture businesses. It defines the process, what it seeks to achieve, how to organise it, metrics, etc. 

Suitable For:

Anyone involved/working with/soon to be working with Scrums in Agile. 


Clean Agile: Back to Basics – Robert Martin

Written in 2019, some two decades after the original Agile Manifesto, the prolific Robert Martin delivers this up-to-date book for modern programmers. The author has produced other works on clean code, and here, he strips away some manifestations of Agile to bring things back to basics. 

The book teaches how to use Agile to create clean code free from bloated processes or less-efficient incarnations of Agile. After all, Agile was developed to keep programming simple and effective. This book takes readers back to those foundational principles. 

The book teaches:

  • The origins and practices of Scrums
  • Business-related Agile practices, from acceptance tests to inter-team communication
  • Project management in modern situations
  • Technical practices such as TDD, refactoring, simple design, and pair programming

Suitable For:

Those interested in Agile in modern contexts. 


Agile Game Development with Scrum – Clinton Keith 

As the name suggests, this book focuses primarily on game development. It responds to contemporary challenges in the industry, such as aggressive deadlines, complexity, bloated budgets, etc. Some of these issues have been the downfall of major hyped titles that were released too early in largely unfinished states. 

Agile can provide a solution, so long as it’s orchestrated properly. This book seeks to apply Agile project management across the entire spectrum of game design, from programmers to testers, producers and even artists. It involves long-range and short-term planning, interdisciplinary collaboration, time tracking and more. 

The book covers topics like: 

  • Scrum goals in the context of game development
  • Planning game vision, features, etc 
  • Iterative techniques to create workable games in the production process 
  • Team management 
  • Ensuring Agile remains predictable and stable, even when deadlines are fast and furious
  • Remote and distributed teams 

Suitable For:

Those interested in Agile for game development. 


Become an Agile Project Manager: Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Agile Project Management with Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, Lean, Six Sigma, and Extreme Programming – Ready Set Agile

As the name suggests, this book is about project management for Agile. It’s designed for those who want to learn to manage Agile teams with processes like Scrums, kanbans, scrumbans, lean, Six Sigma and Extreme programming. 

The book is broken down into useful sections like: 

  • 7 methods to be the best Agile manager possible
  • Software to accelerate projects 
  • Top secrets to agile
  • 10 project management tools for personal time management 
  • 11 practices to create the best Agile team 
  • Getting into Agile project management 
  • 12 real-life examples of successful projects, and also projects that failed 

Suitable For:

Anyone wishing to become an Agile project manager. 


Agile Estimating and Planning – Mike Cohn 

One of the toughest parts of Agile is estimating and planning. Mike Cohn – who authored several other backs in the space – provides this comprehensive guide to properly estimating Agile projects and planning timelines. 

Cohn makes numerous references to real-life scenarios and teaches readers how to plan efficiently for speed without sacrificing quality. Everything is well-written and explained well.

Key topics include: 

  • The shortfalls of prescriptive planning 
  • How and when to re-estimate
  • Financial and nonfinancial approaches 
  • Splitting large features into smaller, more manageable ones
  • Predict progress 
  • Scheduling
  • Estimating across distributed teams 

Suitable For:

Agile project management with a focus on planning and estimation. 


Agile Estimating and Planning – Mike Cohn 

A short, modern book aimed at project management. It’s a very short book at 125 pages, so you can easily read it in just a few hours. The book assumes no prior knowledge, and there isn’t a huge amount to say – it does what it says on the front cover. 

Suitable For:

Complete beginners looking to get involved with Agile project management. 


Summary: Top 10 Books on Agile Software Development

Some excellent books on Agile software development and Agile project planning here. 

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Agile has become a go-to among software development departments and teams, and it’s vital for both team members and project planners to sharpen their skills to bring the best out of the paradigm. 

Books are a great way to keep your learning rate up. Leaving some of these books on your desk will encourage you to develop your Agile skills and knowledge.


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