Agile, Program Management, Scrum, Waterfall

“Agile or Waterfall …?”

As a TPM, I often get asked, what is my preference in development methodologies – Agile or Waterfall.

Well, first of all, as Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum Framework, says in his book, the Agile Manifesto was developed in 2001, which primarily states the following values:

  • People over processes
  • Working products over documenting what the product is supposed to do
  • Collaborating with customers over negotiating with them
  • Responding to a change over following a plan

Scrum is the framework that puts these values into practice. So many a time, when people say “Agile” development, they actually mean Scrum framework.

blackboard business chalkboard concept

But, coming back to the earlier question, it is not a fair comparison. Agile/Scrum, is a framework and Waterfall is a methodology. Scrum framework allows teams to adapt in a way that works best for them.

For instance, Some teams can choose to have 2-week sprints and others can have 4-week sprints. The sizing of stories can be done what works best for each team. In my team, I have a scale of 1-5, where 5 is the most complex. I know of other teams that use the “T-shirt size” analogy (S, M, L, XL) to estimate. Because the framework is malleable, it gives the teams the power to determine what will work best for them.

Waterfall is a methodology that requires all teams to follow a certain pattern, regardless of if it will fit them or not.

Agile/Scrum will give you information about your project, whether you like it or not. As an example, when you monitor your Burndown charts, you will know how the project is trending –  if there will be a delay. This information can be known fairly early on during the project, it will require maturity from the team to accept the news and take corrective actions. Waterfall will only produce artifacts that are produced for the sake of an output and the final result is not known until the very end, which might be too late.

Clearly, Agile/Scrum should be the preferred option when it comes to development, especially in this day and age where the teams are constantly required to adjust their goals based on the various inputs they receive. Agile/Scrum framework allows a team to adapt rapidly, a feature that is not available within Waterfall.♦


3 thoughts on ““Agile or Waterfall …?””

    1. Yes, sure that is a possibility. You will need to determine what works for the parameters of your project/program. The size of the team, clarity of requirements etc. The key is not to get caught up in the elements of waterfall that will drown you in processes. Hope that makes sense.


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