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February 24, 2010

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We were having a debate in the office the other day, my colleague was arguing that waterfall project management style is totally redundant now and nobody uses it, whereas i think it still has its merits with certain projects that its suited to, wondered what your opinion on it was?

That’s an interesting question. I find my knowledge of waterfall project management very useful in conversations about justifying agile approaches. You have to speak people’s language and know where they are coming from to address their concerns, but in terms of simply using the techniques?

For non-volatile, non-negotiable projects or parts of projects I think a waterfall approach is still be valid. A project at my last company involved arranging training for 400 users. This training portion of the project was fairly static, we had two trainers with classes of 20 people scheduled for 3 months. The plan was pretty waterfall, but that was just the training part, the development part of the project was agile. Likewise, maybe HW purchasing, rolling out Office to 5,000 people, perhaps these have less uncertainty and with some review and adapt points could be waterfall-ish, but the projects I see most suit an agile approach more often than not.

Thanks for writing, best regards
Mike

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