AgileChange ManagementPeople-Process-TechnologyProject Management

Waterfall is DEAD…and Agile Killed It

By December 4, 2019 10 Comments

The Waterfall methodology and its accompany PMP certification for project managers were once the gold standard of PMO. Waterfall focused on creating a structured phased approach that flowed sequentially, hence the name. This PMO framework was the approach of choice for government projects and Fortune 500 companies alike for the last several decades. Its signature project phases and detailed project plan were hallmarks of what we came to know as Project Management. However, the Waterfall methodology has failed to keep up in this fast-paced day in age of constant change and adaptation, and is largely being phased out for a fresher more fluid (no pun intended) approach to PMO known as Agile.

Times Have Changed

  • Agile rose to prominence in the software development/implementation world as a versatile PMO framework that is led by a Certified Scrum Master(CSM), whose sole job was to keep the project in line with the continuous improvement Agile approach. Agile was perfect for projects that required a high degree of creativity, shifting goals and a fast turnaround.
  • The Agile framework was innovative in that it allowed for project goals and inputs to shift throughout the course of the engagement without requiring major overhauls to detailed project plans, budgets or resources. Agile picked up on the fact that oftentimes with major projects, you don’t know what you don’t know. Meaning, that as work gets underway priorities, goals and risks may shift and the project must be able to quickly adapt.

The Way Organizations Work has Changed

  • Another major shift that has killed the relevance of the Waterfall methodology and led to the rise in Agile is the major change we have seen in the way organizations are structured. Millennials by in large are demanding more collaborative work environments with less formal hierarchal structures. Top tech companies have embraced the ideas of open workspaces, remote work, and flatter org structures to align with the demands of their workforce and remain competitive.
  • Agile is the perfect complement to this collaborative team structure as its Scrum framework is known for its emphasis on “People & Interactions over Processes & Tools”. The entire Agile methodology is built on the concept of a development team without ranks that operate as a collective. This approach fits perfectly with the direction that the corporate workforce is moving and more aptly positions the employees and their projects to succeed.

Change is Happening FASTER than Ever

  • Customer demands and the competitive market is changing and growing at a faster pace than we have ever seen and the companies that are successful are the ones who can keep up. Agile allows projects to grow, it lacks the rigid structure that defines Waterfall and makes it easy to add additional sprints ( project segments) as needed.
  • Agile is based on being able to receive and implement feedback and new information throughout the process. This is a groundbreaking difference that has led to its takeover of Waterfall which focused its opportunities for improvement at the end of the project in the form of “Lessons Learned”. The needs of consumers and suppliers are constantly changing and evolving, so it makes sense that a methodology that allows for these elements to be taken into account and the project adjusted to meet the end needs of the consumer is the PMO of choice.

While Agile has risen tremendously in popularity and offers an adaptive approach more capable of meeting the needs of today’s consumers, it has not been without its struggles. The biggest of which, is that the traditional Fortune 500 company is just not set up to support this approach. While there are huge variations in this by industry, Tech by in large leading the charge, it has taken massive adjustments to work culture and change adaptation within the companies in order to see this methodology be a success. As a leading consulting firm in this area, and a certified CSM, the most common roadblock we find is that while Agile works, companies don’t know how to work it. As always, people are companies most valuable asset and a critical component to success in an Agile/Scrum project. In order to properly position the project to succeed, companies must devote efforts into preparing the employees for this change, training them on how to work in this environment and empowering them for success. The companies that have seen the biggest return on investment have invested tremendously in not only the Agile framework but the change management required in order for Agile to work. PPC is an industry leader in this field and has developed a customized approach for leading change management in this area and preparing the company and its workforce for the Agile lifestyle. Reach out today, to set up a time to discuss how PPC can assist in raising your PMO from the dead, and entering a new day!