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Project Management Methodologies – Waterfall and Agile

By Elena, Customer Support Specialist at Flat Rock

Project management is an art, it’s a mixture of qualities, skills, techniques, tools and knowledge but most of all it’s the ability to recognise the best methodology and use it properly. The choice of proper methodology is key to success. It is one of the first and probably the most important decisions each Project manager needs to make. Just like an artist, a proficient project manager should be able to select the exact approach, which will best fit to a specific project and meet its requirements. As every project is one of a kind and different, there are a number of questions and clarifications that should be cleared before we could define the proper methodology. Even though, creating a project is a unique activity, the process of project management may be standardized by using particular, well-proved models for design, planning and implementation. These models are called project management methodologies.  Once the scope, time frame and price are defined, it is time for planning and choosing the right process path.

Let’s review some of the most popular methodologies and try to understand how and when to use them.

Agile

As the name indicates, this methodology focuses on speed. It aims to provide rapid and continuous delivery of a product to the customer. Instead of a sequential design process, the Agile methodology follows an incremental approach. Software development is iterating down into smaller phases, called sprints. Each sprint is with small deliverables. The whole team works on small modules. At the end of each sprint, the priorities are reviewed and evaluated and tests are run. Based on the result and evaluation, the next steps of the project are planned. Agile is a flexible methodology and it is suitable for larger projects, where there are a lot of changes and issues or uncertainty is anticipated. It is easily adjustable methodology which allows changes to be made after the initial planning, adding features or change requests during the development process. The client is involved in the project and is able to see results as early as possible and the project manager is able to constantly gather feedback.

When to use it

› The project scope is unclear and unlikely to remain stable

› The scope includes significant custom software development

› The project requires regular, ongoing development of upgrades and updates

› The projects is with a high degree of complexity and uniqueness

› When we have skilled and adaptable developers

› The customer has difficulties to define the requirements and is likely to change the scope of the project

› To achieve more visibility and low risk management

› To ensure the development of the right product

Waterfall

Waterfall is a consequential methodology. It describes a development method that is linear and sequential. The development has distinct goals and each of the steps are clear. Once a certain phase is completed, the development process moves to the next phase and there is no turning back. We could compare the method with a real “waterfall”. When the water starts its journey down the rocks, we know it won’t be coming back. As all the tasks are agreed in advance, the customers knows what to expect and planning is easily achievable.

When to use it

› If client involvement is not required and they won’t have the ability to change the scope

› In order to have better resource allocation and planning

› For better tracking and measurement of the progress as the scope is known and agreed

› When we have a clear picture of what the final result should be

› When we have clear and fixed requirements

› When the key to success is definition not speed

› When strict documentation is required

› Suitable for short and clear projects

We, at Flat Rock, are here to help you decide on the best match for your business, so never hesitate to contact one of our representatives.

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