Why Agile Project Management Is Better Than Waterfall?

Agile or Waterfall Project Management?

A million dollar question for organizations to deal with. On one hand, there are huge teams, multi-year projects involving multiple business units & the other is scalability, adaptability, faster go to markets & quick value realization.

One Size fits all has always been a dream that never comes true. What is important is to take a more relative approach considering an organization’s or the project’s ecosystem.

With a well-oiled organization structure in place, one can run projects in small agile teams tied to the larger goal of the project initiative. But then a lot depends on the legacy processes and the culture of the company when it comes to being agile.

Let’s save that discussion for another day and take a quick look at what works best between the two, which to choose and when.

Why Agile project management is trending?

“According to a recent online survey of 601 IT and development professionals, it is proved that Agile is the new typical formula for project success. The majority of projects and development teams are now adopting this methodology.”

Further research indicated Agile was first introduced about 15 years ago as a substitute for traditional software development approaches. Many people considered it as challenging to implement traditional practices and agile adopters stated that this new style of software development improves team collaboration and is more customer centric.

Though agile methodology was present more than a decade ago, the vast majority of organizations adopted the practice in the last 5 years. Moreover, a survey reported that agile adoption saw a sudden rise in between the year 2009-2010.

Agile adoption has shown an incremental growth till 2008 and then its growth was accelerated after gaining traction in the market.

If you are running a complex project, it is advisable to use agile project management as the methodology. Complex projects contain several interconnected stages, where a change in one stage can affect another. So, project managers use Agile methodology in such a scenario, as there is a chance of high adaptability.

Key Benefits of Agile project management:

  • Improves collaboration among teams- 54%
  • Enhances the quality level of software in organizations- 52%
  • Results in enhanced customer satisfaction- 49%
  • Speeds time to market- 43%
  • Reduces development cost- 42%

Why Agile is better than Waterfall?

Another interesting fact to note is, with the increase of Agile project management, the usage of the conventional Waterfall methodology saw a steady decline.

The Waterfall Model is more about a process, where one can see progress “flowing” through different phases. It’s a sequential model which goes from requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing, and production to maintenance. When Agile is the base of development, it tends to deliver visibility, adaptability, accountability, and value at the beginning of the process and minimizes the risks during the project.

If you are a part of the software development industry, I am sure you know how project plans change every day according to the customer needs! Waterfall method, being sequential in its approach cannot adapt to the frequent change of project scope.  On the other hand, agile project management employs an iterative approach and is highly adaptable to frequent changes.

Advantages of Agile over Waterfall are:

  • Agile techniques virtually eliminate the chances of absolute project failure. Agile means always having a working product which is being built incrementally right from the very first sprint, so that projects do not fail completely.
  • The customer has frequent and early opportunities to assess the work being delivered and make decisions & changes throughout the development life cycle. Waterfall doesn’t involve customers in the projects.
  • Agile project management results in far less re-work on projects as issues and changes are identified in the early stages itself. Since, Waterfall doesn’t have an iterative approach; there is a high possibility of re-work after delivery or completion of a major feature or milestone.
  • Agile involves frequent check-ins and demonstrations with the stakeholders which allows for changes to be made at a much faster pace, which is good news for smaller teams–letting them get feedback faster and making it easier for them to adjust to the wants and needs of the customer. As mentioned earlier, Waterfall doesn’t encourage the involvement of Customer. So there is less possibility of getting feedback from customers and the team. Thus, Waterfall is less likely to be customer centric.
  • If the time to market for a specific application is a greater concern than releasing a full feature set at initial launch, Agile can more quickly produce a basic version of a working software which can be built upon in successive iterations.
  • In the Agile development, testing is done at the sprint level to ensure that the project is delivered in an optimum state. It enables the project managers to perform changes if needed and the team is aware of potential issues beforehand. In Waterfall, there is no chance of iterative testing which makes projects prone to failure.
  • The advantage of Agile methodology is that when companies take time on the front end during planning a project using Agile techniques, they can predict the cost of a project to conclude whether or not they should continue with the project. There is also a possibility of high ROI in Agile than Waterfall project management.
  • Because of Agile’s iterative and customer-first approach, surveys show, 49% of the Agile projects are successful. However, this percentage is restricted to 14% in Waterfall.
  • In waterfall, value delivery comes at the end of the development process. If the project exceeds the agreed budget – which is very likely in the case of IT contracts, there may be no time and money left to deliver the value that was agreed upon with the client. This makes Waterfall project management highly vulnerable to budget changes. While Agile project management is more flexible and allows for timely course correction.
  • If a careful approach is not taken while evaluating budget, timelines, and resources, then projects with Waterfall methodology may fail to deliver quality projects on time. Since Agile project management is flexible to changes, we can take quick decision for plan changes to ensure on-time delivery. In fact,a survey shows 55% of the agile projects are delivered on-time.

Conclusion:

Agile project management is increasingly preferred over Waterfall today. However, agile project management is advisable for the small teams and startups with less number of people involved in projects. Since, Customer satisfaction is of highest priority for any business, agile project management is highly recommended. Research also indicates 57% of the agile projects have generated higher customer satisfaction.

But when a project is less prone to budget and frequent plan changes, involves large project teams, and customer intervention is not needed or minimal, Waterfall methodology is the best option to adopt.

And what makes things interesting is that Orangescrum supports both Agile and Waterfall project management.

Orangescrum offers features specific to Scrum Project Management such as Epics, Stories, Sprints (tasks & subtasks), Scrum Boards, Sprint reports & Velocity chart along with Kanban Boards, Gantt charts, time log, timesheets and resource management for the traditional project management.

Signup now to experience the best of both project management worlds!

About the author

Amit
Amit