I talked to a few CIOs recently who were using Scrum and Waterfall for agile project development. One was using a combination of the two to develop a portal and services for emergency room physicians.
But if you talk to some agile purists, they balk at the idea of using the two project development approaches together. At their basic premises, agile and Waterfall fight against one another: Waterfall deals with change by resisting it; while agile, and in particular Scrum, embraces change, according to Elena Mitelman, principal of agile consulting firm Smart Edge LLC.
To give a broader scope of Waterfall vs. agile approaches such as Scrum, here’s Mitelman’s take on both:
Used since mid-late 1990s.
Term formally coined in 2001 by Agile Manifesto.
Likens software development to lab research.
Still iterative, but iterations are unlike prior models.
Very light on documentation.
Manages risk between and within iterations.
Encourages risk-taking and exploration.
Keeps costs down by implementing only what’s required at this time, keeping things simple.
Chaotic, yet controlled.
Has been proven on many projects.
Not without implementation challenges.
Used since 1970s.
Assumes software development is similar to manufacturing and construction.
Sequentially flows from specifications through maintenance.
Deals with change by resisting it – cost of change goes up as project progresses.
Documentation-heavy process to prevent change.
In a perfect world, a simple and cost-efficient process.
But the world is not perfect…
And in the end, she is obviously a Scrum vs. Waterfall fan. Her reasons for evangelizing Scrum: It doesn’t prescribe to any specific engineering practices; it focuses on interactions between people; unlike Extreme Programming, or XP, it doesn’t require that you follow a number of set practices; and it is not specific to software development.
“[Scrum] can be used for any project, including launching a product, starting a company, etc.,” she said.
I’d like to hear from you if you are mixing and matching approaches, and how it’s working out for you, or if you think a Scrum and Waterfall combo leads to project failure. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.