Juha Kauhanen
Apr 8, 2015

Reconciling Waterfall and Agile for Long Term Best Results

Introduction and summary of key points

Agile project and product management approaches are becoming the norm rather than an exception. Traditional waterfall approaches, originating from pre-information economy, also still have valuable attributes that should not be overlooked. Combining different approaches to suit specific needs rather than fixatedly applying a single approach will yield the best long-term results.

Traditional and agile practices both have their strengths and instead of choosing between them I believe it is better to use the strengths of both and make them work and flourish together, creating an even stronger continually developing project culture. For traditional waterfall and newer agile practices to coexist and evolve together, companies should:

  • Favor principles and a framework over detailed and strict one-size-fits all methods.
  • Allow freedom to customize the practices within the boundaries of the overall framework and long-term corporate objectives.
  • Initiating projects within the broader portfolio management and managing scope and contracts benefits from traditional approaches supporting agile practices.
  • Consistent measurement of progress is required to sustain an overall view and retain ability to scale agile development efforts.
  • People matter by far the most – over processes and tools. Rethink your project management roles. Cultivate a culture of continuous cross-fertilization of lessons learned and sharing of best practices.


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