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Shifting From Waterfall to Agile

Shifting From Waterfall to Agile

When shifting from waterfall to agile, did you know that the agile projects are two times more successful and three times less likely to fail than the traditional waterfall projects? The recent 2019 CHAOS report from the Standish Group statistically stands for the success of agile projects.

Many industry giants thrive to transform completely into agile framework models, in the light of statistics and also for reasons such as to outpace the business competitors, to increase the time-to-market profits, to scale-up innovation space, and to boost customer experience.

Then there are other medium-to-small IT organizations who hold a reluctant approach towards agile methodologies. As John Miller, an agile coach with Agile For All says to Forbes, the reason is “They think it’s just a process, but they don’t realize the magnitude of change they have to undergo” and added to that, the magnitude of change they’re achieving.

That is why we bring this article to you as guidance to help revisit your business proposition of shifting your business from waterfall to agile frameworks.

Is the Waterfall Methodology Outdated?

The way we do business evolves fast. Today, there is no business owner or product owner who wishes to feel shut out from the technology with which their products are being built. The split which was between technology and the business is needed to bridge in today’s world for the success and coexistence of both industries.

But, the linear waterfall software development methodology is only growing Business and Technology further and further apart. For two-thirds of the way through the waterfall methodology, Business claims, “We have no idea why it takes so long and no result”. Then the Technology defies as “ Business had no idea what they needed at the very first place”. So the end product may be a revenue shortfall for both Business and Technology.

In Agile, Technology comes up with a working prototype at the end of every sprint. So, the business can cost out and accelerate the project at a fine and swift resolution to the rapidly changing industry and customer standards.

Should My Organization Shift from Waterfall to Agile?

CollabNet VersionOne, in its 14th annual State of Agile Report, states that the companies adopt Agile methodologies primarily for project cost reduction and have increased their cost reductions by 71%. Other than that, the emerging Agile trends could,

  • shorten the system development life cycle, introducing DevOps culture and CI/CD engineering disciplines for application development,
  • improve the end-to-end traceability in project management,
  • achieve value stream management,
  • accelerate time-to-market while enhancing product quality, and
  • manage distributed teams with increased productivity.

Added to the above reasons, the trend towards cloud computing has also pushed the companies a step closer to shifting from waterfall to agile methodologies, allowing companies to focus more on business growth and assert less cost on resource and infrastructure, but more on technology disciplines, project, and team management.

However, given the opportunities for Agile as such, the Waterfall methodology has also its time and place for operation. If your project is long term and the teams are feature-based, these projects need well-defined milestones. So, the Waterfall methodology could work well for this scenario, having the capability to plan work ahead of time, track time, and dependencies. But, the process along could be painstaking for the engineers. So, breaking down the Waterfall project into small agile increments embedding Agile autonomy could be a great link for the success of Waterfall projects.

How to Ease the Shifting From Waterfall to Agile?

The difference between the Waterfall and the Agile mindset is the biggest hurdle that organizations often run into when transitioning to Agile. However, understanding these challenges and the backward culture of the teams and the management tier can help better plan the agile organizational transformation with limited difficulty.

Here are the key factors you should invest on to achieve a smooth shift to Agile:

1.    Train and empower your staff

According to a Scrum Alliance survey, 29% of the longtime employees enrolled in clear-cut positions in organizations, are the biggest detractors on the path transitioning to agility. However, the right training and empowerment can change their mindset and reserved skill set.

There are many levels of training, certification, and awareness programs (e.g., PMI, Scrum Alliance,, Scrum.Org) for both the operational teams and management teams. It is highly important to target the training for both management and the operational staff to align the agile values for their roles in the system.

Hiring a third-party consultancy service is a best practice for shifting from waterfall to agile transformation journey. Agile coaches can bring the specialist technical knowledge, broad experience, and impartial perspective in implementing agile methodologies and can help with transferring responsibilities over to Scrum Masters.

2.    Establish a strong communication structure

Cross-functional teams are a feature in Agile environments. Strong communication structure and transparency across teams are key success strategies to foster an agile ecosystem. It is important to create a communication strategy as integrating the product owner, scrum master, and team leads to connect regularly, and as well as for teams to collaborate daily throughout the sprints.

3.    Integrate tools and leverage automation

Application life-cycle management will not succeed without automation. Agile ALM (Application Life-cycle Management) tools can reduce the weight and stress on teams in the process of delivering quality applications to the customers.

ActiveCollab, Agilo for Scrum, Atlassian Jira + Agile, Pivotal tracker, and Prefix are some of the best tools we can suggest to you to kick start your first agile projects to leverage automation with agile methodologies.

4.    Roll-out gradually, not suddenly

Introducing Agile is an organizational change, which you have to start small with pilots and gradually roll-out to the whole organization. Learning from the failures, drawbacks, and opportunities of your pilot projects is an essential step to decide the pace in which you transition your production environment wholly into Agile. Additionally, starting gradually is less expensive in point of re-organizing and as well as from a capital investment perspective, has increased potential of risk aversion, and is less chaotic for your ongoing projects.

Final Thoughts on Shifting From Waterfall to Agile

Agile teams are a real resource at periods of challenges in terms of their adaptability to prioritize the changing business requirements and technology. Therefore, in an ongoing crisis, it is the ripe time for organizations to retrospect their business strategies and shifting from waterfall to agile environment intellectually.