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Should You Go Agile, Waterfall or Leverage a Combined Approach?

By this article, I wanted to take a closer look at a struggle that most companies face. In the field of project management, there is a debate concerning the ideal approach for the organization to do project management. On one hand, we have a “free” format of Agile and on the other side of the spectrum, we have the traditional Waterfall approach. In this article, I’d like to take a close look at pro’s and con’s for these methodologies and describe how a PM could even use a best of both worlds approach.Traditional/Waterfall methodologyIn a traditional waterfall project, the project manager has given a (somewhat) fixed budget and he or she should accomplish a task within a deadline, which most of the time has resulted into a finished product or service. This is a time-honored traditional way of approaching projects. Where there is a goal, a timespan and a number of resources that should be utilized to achieve that goal.                                                                                           Do You Know?                                                           Waterfall approach is used where the end result is fixed. This approach is particularly useful in situations where the outcome is fixed. Such as the construction of a building or car or even a phone. These products have a physical footprint and changes to these products can almost always be labeled as a completely new project. For example, adding a new floor to the building. The waterfall approach tools of choice are Excel, Microsoft Project (or server) and Primavera. As well as some tools that are highly focused on a specific niche. A traditional project could look something like this (example in Microsoft Project):Pro’s for the traditional/waterfall modelClearly defined resultTime, resources and quality are budgeted up frontCon’s for the traditional/waterfall modelProduct or service is only finished at the end of the projectWhen the end product is ready, it is done. There are no further iterationsThere is a need for a lot of documentationScope creep can be very costly due to late response to changesAgile MethodologyThe completely opposite to the traditional/waterfall approach.  Its origin is found in software development. The Agile Manifesto is the document that describes the Agile methodology and the core values:Individuals and Interactions over processes and toolsWorking Software over comprehensive documentationCustomer Collaboration over contract negotiationResponding to Change over following a plan Organizations are struggling to find a suitable approach for Agile in all departments of the organization. This, in my opinion, is mainly due to the fact that it is found rooted in the software development departments. And therefore wasn’t designed for all types of organizational projects.The Agile approach tools of choice are Excel, Jira, VSTS (or Azure DevOps as it’s now called) Basecamp and Trello. As well as some tools that are highly focused on a specific niche. An Agile “project” could look something like this (example in Microsoft Project):Pros for working AgileFast time to market for a first iteration and working product/serviceHigh focus on quality deliveryCons for working AgileNot all products seem suitable for this approachNo clear end in sightIt requires a team to be fully assigned to the product/serviceDifficult to negotiate budgets to upper managementMaking Agile and Waterfall model work together 1. Agifall approach.As the hype for Agile Project Management is slowly subsiding, there are more and more people that believe that Agile is not the holy grail of project management. We are coming to a more mature understanding of the overall complexity of projects in general. There are so many factors that come into play among others: politics, resource availability, budget, client’s needs, communication difficulties.Maybe we should look for a solution that is best of both worlds. Maybe we can find a way to combine the Agile and traditional Waterfall methodologies. There are multiple sources that advocate a Water–Agile–fall approach. This approach will help to reach a finished product if followed properly. This includes ample documentation and clear goals from the start. But, it also includes an Agile part where a team will have sprints to improve the product in the phase where real development is done. This enforces fast delivery and high quality with a lot of client interaction. In any case; pure Agile and pure Waterfall companies are hard to come by. So, most organizations are pushed to integrate Agile into a Waterfall world, mainly because of certain departments in the organization work more towards Agile than Waterfall and the other way around. Now, let’s see the two popular hybrid methodologies-Water-Scrum-Fall approach Water-Scrum-Fall ApproachWater-Scrum-fall model is the one model which allows the blending of Agile and Waterfall methodologies. The teams like Business analysis and Release management teams conform to the traditional Waterfall model, whereas the Development team and testing team adheres to the Scrum method in a limited way. In Water-Scrum-Fall approach, the processes in the traditional Waterfall model are mixed with the processes of Scrum framework model. The Waterfall processes like planning, requirements gathering, budgeting and documenting the project’s progress are integrated with the timeboxed, iterative version of Scrum during the product development. The mixing of Agile and Traditional Waterfall strategies is done if there are enough details to start the development phase.Water-Scrum-Fall model UsageOrganizations use this approach in the following conditions-When the project needs in-depth details in the planning phase to make a precise budget estimation. Because, if the project processes are well-planned, then the management can also feel secure to portion out the funds for the project implementation.  The natural tendency of the developers and testers to look at the Agile practices during the development phase. This happens because the Agile methodology provides them the chance to collaborate as per the needs of the project. AgiFall methodology The motto of getting the best of Agile and Waterfall gives birth to the concept called AgiFall. This approach was first presented at Vancouver Digital Project Managers Meetup Group. It consists of the mixture of Waterfall and Agile principles. The aim is to increase the speed, decrease the cost, and most importantly improve the quality of the end-product.  The AgiFall approach carries out the Waterfall processes like planning and requirements phases activities in an Agile manner. These activities are broken into the user stories and prioritized them in the Sprint. In this method, you don’t need to wait for one phase to finish to begin the next one. This means that you can carry on with the development process while the planning phase is going on. in AgiFall model, the development phase implements the Agile principles.Can Agile and Waterfall Hybrid go with each other?Today, backlog management replaced the comprehensive documentation due to the evolution of techniques. This can be the best example of successful adoption of the hybrid model. The Waterfall-Agile hybrid model is most suitable for the projects which expect that the team should address and deliver the constantly changing requirements within a limited period of time.When the Manager has to implement a particular methodology during the Planning phase, the best way is to select that methodology which matches the project needs. Additionally, the team should have crystal clear understanding of the hybrid model and its implementation knowledge. Otherwise, it will result in a failure spreading a mess with no benefits.Final notesI hope you liked reading my first article on the Knowledgehut. The screenshots I took came from the Office Insider version of Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365. I’ve done a video on how to get the office insider version. This is the version that includes the newest features released by Microsoft. Such as the Agile board I’ve used in the example of Agile.Keep Planning with Waterfall, Executing with Agile, and Speed up the Product Development process!If you like to read more about Agile and Waterfall, here are some great articles I found interesting to read. Click to read a relevant article which I found interesting.

Should You Go Agile, Waterfall or Leverage a Combined Approach?

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Should You Go Agile, Waterfall or Leverage a Combined Approach?

By this article, I wanted to take a closer look at a struggle that most companies face. In the field of project management, there is a debate concerning the ideal approach for the organization to do project management. On one hand, we have a “free” format of Agile and on the other side of the spectrum, we have the traditional Waterfall approach. 

In this article, I’d like to take a close look at pro’s and con’s for these methodologies and describe how a PM could even use a best of both worlds approach.

Traditional/Waterfall methodology
Traditional/Waterfall methodology

In a traditional waterfall project, the project manager has given a (somewhat) fixed budget and he or she should accomplish a task within a deadline, which most of the time has resulted into a finished product or service. This is a time-honored traditional way of approaching projects. Where there is a goal, a timespan and a number of resources that should be utilized to achieve that goal. 

                                                                                          Do You Know?

                                                           Waterfall approach is used where the end result is fixed. 

This approach is particularly useful in situations where the outcome is fixed. Such as the construction of a building or car or even a phone. These products have a physical footprint and changes to these products can almost always be labeled as a completely new project. For example, adding a new floor to the building. 

The waterfall approach tools of choice are Excel, Microsoft Project (or server) and Primavera. As well as some tools that are highly focused on a specific niche. A traditional project could look something like this (example in Microsoft Project):

 Microsoft Project


Pro’s for the traditional/waterfall model

  • Clearly defined result
  • Time, resources and quality are budgeted up front

Con’s for the traditional/waterfall model

  • Product or service is only finished at the end of the project
  • When the end product is ready, it is done. There are no further iterations
  • There is a need for a lot of documentation
  • Scope creep can be very costly due to late response to changes

Agile Methodology

Agile Methodology

The completely opposite to the traditional/waterfall approach.  Its origin is found in software development. The Agile Manifesto is the document that describes the Agile methodology and the core values:

Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools

Working Software over comprehensive documentation

Customer Collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to Change over following a plan 

Organizations are struggling to find a suitable approach for Agile in all departments of the organization. This, in my opinion, is mainly due to the fact that it is found rooted in the software development departments. And therefore wasn’t designed for all types of organizational projects.

The Agile approach tools of choice are Excel, Jira, VSTS (or Azure DevOps as it’s now called) Basecamp and Trello. As well as some tools that are highly focused on a specific niche. An Agile “project” could look something like this (example in Microsoft Project):

Agile project
Pros for working Agile

  • Fast time to market for a first iteration and working product/service
  • High focus on quality delivery

Cons for working Agile

  • Not all products seem suitable for this approach
  • No clear end in sight
  • It requires a team to be fully assigned to the product/service
  • Difficult to negotiate budgets to upper management

    Cons for working Agile

Making Agile and Waterfall model work together 

1. Agifall approach.

As the hype for Agile Project Management is slowly subsiding, there are more and more people that believe that Agile is not the holy grail of project management. We are coming to a more mature understanding of the overall complexity of projects in general. There are so many factors that come into play among others: politics, resource availability, budget, client’s needs, communication difficulties.

Maybe we should look for a solution that is best of both worlds. 

Maybe we can find a way to combine the Agile and traditional Waterfall methodologies. There are multiple sources that advocate a Water–Agile–fall approach. This approach will help to reach a finished product if followed properly. 

This includes ample documentation and clear goals from the start. But, it also includes an Agile part where a team will have sprints to improve the product in the phase where real development is done. This enforces fast delivery and high quality with a lot of client interaction. 

In any case; pure Agile and pure Waterfall companies are hard to come by. So, most organizations are pushed to integrate Agile into a Waterfall world, mainly because of certain departments in the organization work more towards Agile than Waterfall and the other way around. Now, let’s see the two popular hybrid methodologies-

  1. Water-Scrum-Fall approach 

Water-Scrum-Fall Approach
Water-Scrum-Fall Approach

Water-Scrum-fall model is the one model which allows the blending of Agile and Waterfall methodologies. The teams like Business analysis and Release management teams conform to the traditional Waterfall model, whereas the Development team and testing team adheres to the Scrum method in a limited way. 

In Water-Scrum-Fall approach, the processes in the traditional Waterfall model are mixed with the processes of Scrum framework model. The Waterfall processes like planning, requirements gathering, budgeting and documenting the project’s progress are integrated with the timeboxed, iterative version of Scrum during the product development. The mixing of Agile and Traditional Waterfall strategies is done if there are enough details to start the development phase.

Water-Scrum-Fall model Usage

Organizations use this approach in the following conditions-

  • When the project needs in-depth details in the planning phase to make a precise budget estimation. Because, if the project processes are well-planned, then the management can also feel secure to portion out the funds for the project implementation.  
  • The natural tendency of the developers and testers to look at the Agile practices during the development phase. This happens because the Agile methodology provides them the chance to collaborate as per the needs of the project.

 AgiFall methodology  AgiFall methodology

The motto of getting the best of Agile and Waterfall gives birth to the concept called AgiFall. This approach was first presented at Vancouver Digital Project Managers Meetup Group. It consists of the mixture of Waterfall and Agile principles. The aim is to increase the speed, decrease the cost, and most importantly improve the quality of the end-product.  

The AgiFall approach carries out the Waterfall processes like planning and requirements phases activities in an Agile manner. These activities are broken into the user stories and prioritized them in the Sprint. In this method, you don’t need to wait for one phase to finish to begin the next one. This means that you can carry on with the development process while the planning phase is going on. in AgiFall model, the development phase implements the Agile principles.

Can Agile and Waterfall Hybrid go with each other?

Today, backlog management replaced the comprehensive documentation due to the evolution of techniques. This can be the best example of successful adoption of the hybrid model. The Waterfall-Agile hybrid model is most suitable for the projects which expect that the team should address and deliver the constantly changing requirements within a limited period of time.

When the Manager has to implement a particular methodology during the Planning phase, the best way is to select that methodology which matches the project needs. Additionally, the team should have crystal clear understanding of the hybrid model and its implementation knowledge. Otherwise, it will result in a failure spreading a mess with no benefits.

Final notes

I hope you liked reading my first article on the Knowledgehut. The screenshots I took came from the Office Insider version of Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365. I’ve done a video on how to get the office insider version. This is the version that includes the newest features released by Microsoft. Such as the Agile board I’ve used in the example of Agile.

Keep Planning with Waterfall, Executing with Agile, and Speed up the Product Development process!

If you like to read more about Agile and Waterfall, here are some great articles I found interesting to read. Click to read a relevant article which I found interesting.

Erik van

Erik van Hurck

Blog Author

Erik van Hurck is a senior PPM consultant working with Projectum, a Nordics and Western Europe based Microsoft Gold partner. Erik’s contribution to the community has awarded with the status of Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. It is Erik’s goal to help current and future users of Microsofts Project and Portfolio Management software to achieve the most while making their experiences with the tools as enjoyable as possible.

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2 comments

Deepak Singh 27 Nov 2018

Thank you Sir for very detailed article

Blessy Princes 28 Nov 2018

Do you have any branches in Hyderabad or I have to take online course?

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This is the most sought-after certification and those who wish to transform the working way of the teams can be a part of this training. Prerequisites to grab CST certificationTo become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), you need to have:Detailed knowledge of the Scrum concepts, practices, and principlesAn active Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster™ (CSP-SM™) certification from Scrum AllianceHands-on experience in implementing the Scrum framework as a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or Development team memberTeaching experience in partnership with any Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) or independently-Taught to at least 100 candidatesHosted at least 10 or more days ScrumMaster training sessions Respective certifications in order to train professionals on the courses (e.g. if want to train on CSPO, an individual should hold an active CSPO certification.  What next after CST certification?As a CST, you can teach Scrum to the students who want to work in a Scrum environment. Scrum Alliance considers CST as an active member in the Scrum community who actively takes part in the events and user groups, blogging, and in online discussions.    5. Certified Enterprise Coach℠ (CEC):The Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) exhibits their years of experience in Scrum transformations at an enterprise level. They also show their in-depth understanding of implementing Scrum practices and principles. The CECs are skilled at Scrum (both theoretically and practically) and guide organizations during their Agile transformation journey.Prerequisites to grab CEC certificationThe individuals aspiring Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) credential must possess:Knowledge of Scrum practices, proven leadership, and coaching skills An active CSP-SM™ or CSP-PO™ or CSP® certification Working experience in Scrum team rolesCoaching experience in at least three organizations2,000 hours over the past 3 years of work experience as a Coach.What next after CEC certification?Being a CEC certified, an individual can help organizations to become an Agile organization using the Scrum framework to transform the world of work. Also, they can recommend up to 50 individuals yearly for whom they have given 25-hours of in-person training or small group training to achieve Certified ScrumMaster® and Certified Scrum Product Owner® certifications. In this way, a CTC certified can contribute to creating a healthy environment of the organizations by coaching the team members on Scrum.   6. Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®)The Product Owner (PO) creates the product vision, prioritize the product backlog, and help the team in delivering what customers intuitively looking for. The CSPO®  is the certification for the Product Owners that will help an individual in handling the business side of the project. Prerequisites to grab CSPO® certificationThere is no prerequisite to attend  CSPO® training. However, in order to earn this certification, an individual need to attend 2-days of CSPO® course taught by Certified Scrum Trainer®  (CST). What next after CSPO® certification?After taking CSPO certification, you can go for advanced-level certification of CSPO which is an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner® (A-CSPO®) course from Scrum Alliance. 7. Certified Scrum Developer® (CSD®)The  CSD® certification proves that an individual has skills of building the software using Scrum as a part of the Scrum team. With CSD® , you can strengthen your technical skills in Agile software development. Prerequisites to grab CSD® certificationAny programmer (having coding knowledge) can attend CSD® course. To achieve this, an individual needs to undergo at least 5-days of the formal CSD training course by a Scrum Alliance Registered Education Provider (REP) and a Scrum Alliance Authorized Instructor. In addition to this, the CSD® certification offers the privilege to the CSM certified candidates. They can skip the first 2 days and directly join from the 3rd day of the technical training.What next after CSD® certification?After CSD® certification, an individual can level-up his/her skills with Certified Scrum Professional® for Developers (CSP- D) certification. The CSP certification help teams to constantly improve the ways of implementing Agile and Scrum practices and principles.   8. ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Coaching (ICP-ACC) CertificationICP-ACC certification in Agile Coaching certification aims to achieve an Agile mindset. After this certification, an individual can easily be able to differentiate between the facilitation, mentoring, professional coaching and teaching and will get to learn the skills like team collaboration and conflict resolution to form a healthy organizational environment.Prerequisites to grab ICP-ACC certificationAn individual with CSM certification and 2-3 years of working experience as a Scrum Master, is eligible to achieve ICP-ACC certification training. What next after ICP ACC certification?Being a certified Agile Coach, you can play the role of the mentor to the Agile team by facilitating Agile practices and empowering teams to reach their goals. More specifically, an Agile Coach can is a guide to the team members who help the team in Agile adoption. Career Roles of a Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master is the heart of the Scrum process who plays a diverse set of roles in the team. Let's have a glimpse of the various roles that Scrum Master can play after the CSM certification:Agile CoachProduct OwnerManager SAFe Scrum MasterConcluding ThoughtsThe Scrum Master role should not be an end itself. There is always a scope of consistent improvement. So, for all the Scrum Masters, ‘What’s your next career path?’ Being a Scrum Master, try not to keep yourself restricted to limited skills. Try to advance your Scrum skills always by taking more advanced Scrum certifications.    So, are you ready to take the plunge with other advanced Scrum certifications after earning CSM certification?  
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The Career Path of a Certified Scrum Master: Found...

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