Agile Versus Waterfall Project Management

Agile versus Waterfall project management discussion

Agile and Waterfall project management practices are the two most popular approaches in project management and product development.

The following discussion concerns the choice of Agile or Waterfall methodology for internal project management. Reference: Waterfall or Agile? What methodology to choose for your project, PM.MBA 2020

E-mail from Professor Robert Smith:

"I came across discussions in Internet groups and some people are discussing some dissatisfaction with the classic exercises and project management methods. They mention some Japanese terminology, and that Waterfall is not something that should be used nowadays. At the same time, other people advocate the word "waterfall" and argue that Japanese words are not really important. I did not understand anything more in detail, but I know that this topic will soon be addressed by the Board of Directors. Send me a detailed explanation of these embarrassing and confusing discussions and some recommendations and guidelines for thinking so we know how these things can affect our organization.
With respect,
R. Smith

The answer

Dear Prof. Smith,
The discussions you have encountered are definitely of interest and are quite topical.
My opinion is that it is not a good idea to go to extremes and categorically deny one or another methodology of work. What is important and what methodologies should or should not be used depends to a very large extent on what project we have been assigned and what are the expectations of our clients, as well as their financial capabilities.
Let's first look at the essence of the two methods of project management (Agile and Waterfall). Reference: Agile vs Waterfall management methodology, 2020

Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall Project Management practices are linear, if I may call it that, tactics that follow the steps of project preparation and implementation.
Agile is a more flexible approach in which the project is a living organism and appropriate changes can be made at any time.

At Waterfall Project Management we have clearly defined stages of organization and each one must be completed before the next can be started. Very often each stage can take a very long time and be expensive for the client. In Agile, the stages are much shorter in time (called "sprints") and can take only a few weeks. If necessary, it is possible to prioritize the tasks in the respective sprints in another way, which does not require the completion of one stage in order to start the next.

Another important aspect from the point of view of communication with the client is the fact that at the Waterfall we do not need to take a lot of time for meetings and briefings with the client, as he is expected to announce that the stage is completed.

Agile Project Management

At Agile, it is supposed to be purer to engage the client with data on the progress of the project, which they may not like. On the other hand, in this way they have the opportunity to request adjustments that can be made in a timely manner and save a lot of double work. Reference: The BVOP™ Ultimate Guide, Business-Value Oriented Principles Ltd, 2019

At Waterfall, it is possible for a correction to start an entire process from the beginning and thus delay the deadlines as a whole.
In order to work on the "Waterfall" methodology, we must first gather all the details and requirements of one, to make a design of the overall product, which we expect as a final result with all its parameters.

Most often everything is described in one complete document. We need to understand which parts of the whole could be developed in parallel and thus build our tactics for action. The problem here is that the individual parts of the application may not be compatible in the end. It is also possible that the client does not get a real idea of ​​what his final software will look like before it is fully completed. There is a risk of dissatisfaction.

Agile provides the ability to quickly and efficiently develop components

In this regard, Agile provides the ability to quickly and efficiently develop individual software components while eliminating errors in a timely manner. The customer can get an idea in real time of what his final product will look like. On the other hand, if Agile does not have a comprehensive design and requirements from the beginning, this can lead to an unsatisfactory product. The many changes in the course of the project could produce something completely different from the original idea and the quality to which the client aspired may not be justified.

In the management of "Waterfall" it is possible for one specialist to work on several projects at the same time, as here, by default, long deadlines are observed.

At Agile, however, it is desirable for professionals to be almost entirely dedicated to a project, as Agile is based on the speed with which things happen. Here the deadlines are very short and, if there is a need for adjustments, they must be made in a timely manner. Not all companies could afford to allocate human resources in this way.

Both methods are evaluated in terms of the client's ability to participate in the project

In general, we can say that both methods are evaluated in terms of the client's ability to participate more often or less in project development, project design, the possibility of reprioritization of individual activities, the availability of teams, time, and finances.
It would be best to show an individual approach to each client to their wishes and expectations and to show flexibility on our part as much as possible within their requirements. The special attitude towards the clients in such a situation and our desire for optimal implementation of the project brings added value for them, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on both parties in the long run. Reference: Managing business organizations and adding business value. An Agile Manager’s Guide to the Theory of, PolicyMatters ISSN: 1941-8280 Volume 1, 2020

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