Where the Waterfall method fails at appropriately managing long and complex projects, the Agile methodology excels. Truthfully, managing IT projects in the Agile method is the opposite of doing so in the Waterfall method. The Agile approach is flexible and quick, without the up-front demands of collecting and identifying project requirements. It’s designed to perform small changes to align with modifications to a project’s scope.
As with the Waterfall methodology, Agile was originally developed for use with software development projects, and although the methodology can be adapted to various types of projects because of its flexibility, it’s still very commonly used in the IT space. It works best for projects with a general idea, but without a predetermined objective, or for a project that needs to accommodate quick changes. It’s also a good choice if the driving force behind a project will be real-time collaboration and communication, rather than forecasted planning.
- Lack of Restrictions: With little focus on requirements, and no static stages to complete, your teams are allowed more flexibility to make changes along the way, and experiment with more creative solutions.
- Reduced Risk of Failure: Because changes are made gradually and in real-time based on feedback provided by key decision-makers, the risk of project failure is considerably reduced.
- Teamwork Challenges: Each organizational department must be dedicated to being on task and ready to work collaboratively to deliver the desired results. With no set plan in place, decision-makers will need to be available for nearly immediate feedback to keep the project on track.
- Difficulties of Not Having a Set Plan: Without a plan in place, many other elements of managing IT projects become more difficult; such as resource management, scheduling, and more.
Scrum derives its principles and processes from the Agile methodology, and while it isn’t necessarily a full-bodied approach to managing IT projects, it does have its own set of particular methods and strategies for project management.
In a Scrum approach, a skilled and organized project team is the core driving force behind a project. They utilize 30-day “sprints” in which the team works through various project end-goals in short bursts of 30-day periods that include daily collaborative meetings.
Because of Scrum’s reliance on project teams to mostly self-manage through the workflow, this approach is best suited for organizations that have motivated project teams in place, and that have complex projects that require an Agile approach. Ideally, you would want the team itself to be reasonably small, but with large amounts of experience and discipline.
- Agile: Because Scrum’s principles and processes are derived from Agile, all of the advantages of an Agile approach are applicable to managing IT projects with a Scrum approach.
- Speed of Development: The 30-day sprints and daily collaborative meetings encourage a faster pace with quicker development times.
- Simplify the Complex: By breaking down project goals into the 30-day sprints, management of large and complex IT projects becomes easier – as does your ability to meet and achieve those goals.
- Clarity: Because the project team is so heavily relied on in a Scrum approach, the entire team should have a clear understanding and unimpaired visibility into the requirements and tasks needed to achieve project goals – making prioritization easier and collaboration more effective.
- Risk of Low Motivation: If the project team is not wholly engaged with the process, or not disciplined enough to self-manage the workflow, there is an increased risk of project failure.
- Lack of Experience: If the project team lacks the necessary experience and knowledge needed to complete tasks effectively and efficiently, this can also increase the risk of project failure.
- Lack of Management: Without an assigned project manager, or an assigned end due-date, schedules and budgets can drag out, and task assignments can linger.
- Resource Reliance: Because of the reliance on the project team, if a team member or resource is lost mid-stream, it can have a damaging effect on the team’s performance – and to the success of the project.
As the name would suggest, the Hybrid approach is a mixture of the Waterfall and Agile methods.
In a Hybrid approach, emphasis would be placed at the beginning of a project on collecting information and analyzing a project’s requirements, as would be done in a Waterfall approach. From there, however, focus would be placed on providing flexibility so that changes may be made as necessary in real-time, as would be done in Agile.
Managing IT projects with a Hybrid approach allows you to utilize the best elements of both the Waterfall and Agile methodologies – offering a flexible and structured approach that can be advantageous for many IT projects.
As you would probably guess, a Hybrid methodology is best used for projects that aren’t suited for either a Waterfall or Agile approach, but could use a bit of both. In these projects, you would probably have the end goal in mind, but are open to exploring how to get there – with planning and outlining requirements up front, and intuitive collaboration along the way.
- A Better Waterfall: While the planning stage of the Waterfall method typically results in fewer required corrections, the inflexibility of the approach creates issues if there are errors or changes needed. A Hybrid approach allows for a rigid planning stage with flexibility the rest of the way.
- A Better Agile: If there are criticisms of the Agile approach, they would be centered around the lack of structure and planning, which can lead to more errors and corrections, as well as increased time to completion. By utilizing the planning stage from Waterfall, a Hybrid approach gives Agile some structure where it could use it the most.
- Limitations: When schedules and budgets are built around utilizing both Waterfall’s rigid dependability and Agile’s accommodating flexibility, it leaves little room for movement with respect to either.
- Compromise: Using two very different approaches alongside each other and toward the same end goal will require compromise from both approaches to get the most out of the relationship.