The agile waterfall adaptive predictive projectmanagement

Choosing the correct governance methods for a project is always going to be tricky. Over the last 12 months there has been a marked increase in wholesale and investment banking in a desire to become ‘agile’, often without fully understanding the prerequisites for success.

Agile can mean different things to different people, but the notion that just saying ‘this project is going to be agile’ will trigger some sort of silver bullet for successful project delivery is both mistaken and misguided. Without the necessary training and preparation, this will lead to one part of the organisation (usually IT) talking, thinking and acting in an agile manner, while others talk, think and act according to traditional waterfall principles.

Although it may seem like a simple decision, the success of a project depends on a broad range of factors, which all need careful consideration. For example, should an adaptive (value-driven, agile) approach be taken or a predictive one (plan-driven, waterfall)? Other factors include the anticipated volume and frequency of requirement changes, the nature of the environment within which the project will be delivered, the skills set and experience of the team that will deliver the project and the external dependencies of the project and organisation as a whole. 

The anticipated volume and frequency of requirement changes are often a good indicator as to whether a firm should take an adaptive or predictive approach. If the volume and frequency are likely to be low, then a predictive approach may be suitable. If frequent changes in requirements are expected then an adaptive approach will probably be more successful as this is better suited to environments that require flexibility.