Making the Right Choice: A Guide to Agile and Waterfall Models for Project Management
There are several methodologies used to manage projects, but the two most commonly used are the Agile and Waterfall models.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one depends on the nature and requirements of the project.
Contrary to common trends, agile is not the solution for every type of project. There are situations where agile simply does not make sense and vice versa.
But waterfall projects should still leverage elements of agile like self-organized working and fast feedback loops provided by daily standups.
Agile is not for every team. For this reason, some teams need more and others less coaching.
When to use Agile vs. Waterfall models
Agile models are best suited for projects that require flexibility, quick decision-making, and frequent feedback from customers and stakeholders.
Agile works best for projects that require exploratory work, e.g. in the ML and AI space where the outcome and progress are not 100% and might require a fair amount of experimentation.
On the other hand, the Waterfall model is best suited for projects that have a well-defined scope, a clear set of requirements, and a fixed timeline.
Examples of these are your classic SAP ERP implementations and other standard software package implementations with a clearly defined scope.
Pros and cons of Agile models
Agile models allow for changes in requirements and scope, which helps to respond to changing business needs.
Agile models promote collaboration and communication between team members, making it easier to make quick decisions.
Agile models allow for the delivery of smaller pieces of the project, which results in a faster delivery time.
Better stakeholder involvement:
Agile models promote frequent feedback and communication with stakeholders, which leads to better stakeholder involvement.
Lack of structure:
Agile models can lack structure, which can lead to confusion and disorganization.
Lack of documentation:
Agile models do not place a strong emphasis on documentation, which can be a disadvantage when it comes to future maintenance and support.
Although this is more a matter of enforcing documentation standards.
Lack of upfront planning:
Agile models do not require a lot of upfront planning, which can result in unclear requirements and poor decision-making.
Situations when to use Agile models
Agile models are best suited for:
Projects with changing requirements
Projects with a high level of uncertainty
Projects that require frequent feedback from customers & stakeholders
Pros and cons of Waterfall models
Waterfall models have a clear and well-defined structure, making it easier to manage the project and monitor progress.
Waterfall models place a strong emphasis on documentation, which is useful for future maintenance and support.
Waterfall models require a clear set of requirements, which helps to reduce ambiguity and make better decisions.
Waterfall models do not allow for changes in requirements, which can be a disadvantage when dealing with changing business needs.
Lack of stakeholder involvement:
Waterfall models do not promote frequent feedback from stakeholders, which can result in poor stakeholder involvement.
Waterfall models require the delivery of the entire project before receiving feedback, which can result in a slower delivery time.
When to use Waterfall models
Waterfall models are best suited for:
Projects with well-defined requirements
Projects with a fixed timeline
Projects that have a well-defined scope
Both Agile and Waterfall models have their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right approach depends on the specific requirements of the project.
It is important to consider the factors mentioned above to help determine the best approach.
Ultimately, the success of a project depends on the methodology chosen and the ability of the team to implement it effectively.