The Action Engineering team embraces an Agile mindset & Scrum practices in our work.
In our Agile articles, we share tips & coaching opportunities that work well for us.
For a newsletter dedicated to educating about various Agile topics, it feels counterintuitive to write about how Agile isn’t always the answer. But as with most things in life, there is not always a one-size-fits-all approach to running a project.
Imagine you want to bake the most delicious loaf of pumpkin bread for the community bake sale. If you take the waterfall approach, this is how you might approach the task:
- First, you’ll research recipes. You might want to make pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, or maybe one with cinnamon swirl. You’ll read the recipe reviews to ensure you are picking the best recipe to make the most delicious bread.
- Then you’ll take the list of ingredients and make sure you have all of them, to hopefully prevent a mid-baking run to the store.
- Once you settle on a recipe, you’ll block out time to actually do the baking.
- Then you’ll gather all the ingredients, start mixing, and bake the bread.
- You’ll bake two loaves – one to sample and the one to take to the bake sale. As long as the sample loaf tastes good, you will have accomplished your task of baking a delicious loaf of pumpkin bread for the bake sale!
Waterfall works best for projects that have a clear framework and require a hands-off approach. It is typically the best choice for projects that have been done before, where there are already set standards for how to do things. Waterfall is optimal for simple projects with clear solutions.
You could also try an Agile approach to baking pumpkin bread. It might look something like this:
- You’d start by selecting multiple recipes, with several flavor variations.
- For each recipe, you’d ensure you had all the ingredients, then mix the batter, and then bake the bread.
- You’d find a group of taste-testers to give you feedback on each loaf, and then tweak the recipes each time to make the bread slightly better than the last loaf.
- You’ll end up with a delicious loaf of pumpkin bread for the bake sale, but so many extra loaves that you’ll be sick of eating pumpkin bread. You also spent significantly more time and money on the project than if you just used the waterfall approach.
Agile is best employed on projects that are complex and novel. Agile allows for iterative development with feedback from customers and flexibility in the deliverables. As delicious as it may be, there aren’t very many unknowns when it comes to baking banana bread – so it’s a much better candidate for a waterfall approach.
While running a project at work is definitely a lot more complicated than baking a loaf of pumpkin bread, it is still important to understand the goal and vision of the project prior to selecting the project management methodology to employ.
If you need help selecting the right tools for your next project, send us a message, we are here to help!
Former Agile Team Lead,