Courtroom Scene :: #Waterfall vs #Agile — #Agiles Case (#kanban #scrum)

Ladies and Gentlemen.  You have heard a very interesting case put forward for the ‘heritage’ way of thinking… the very much “old fashioned” way… the legacy way.

People used to say that times are changing – let me reframe it for you – it isn’t the case anymore, we are no longer in the present or future tense, we are in the past tense. Times have changed.

Let me begin.  You have heard that Waterfall has been used for a “long time” and that “everyone knows how to use it”.  I agree, it has been around for a long time, a very long time.  But look how things have moved on… We have cell phones with more processing power than most computers did in the early naughties.  We have a market place on our phones where we can purchase PC quality games.  We have an office in our pocket.  We have mapping system, we have a high resolution camera, we have our bank, the list goes on… We have, and this is most important, a very immediate way in which this is served to us.  You want an app to make dinosaurs appear, you want to answer pretty much any question, an update on what your friends are doing?  They are served real time to you – there is no delay, no wait time… Expectations of the way in which we get access to things, they way we consume things has moved on significantly since Waterfall came to be. I don’t want to wait six months for an update to my app, I want to see the latest release much sooner, days ideally, a week maybe, buy I want the latest and greatest things as soon as possible.

Waterfall can’t serve that frequency – waterfall takes months, quarters even – certainly not days or weeks.

You heard the importance of “a schedule” – to even humour this I have to assume that someone is happy with something being delivered in the time frame of months … I mean, who wants to be told that we might delivery something in a few months time?  Anyway, a schedule or milestone chart is nothing more than something someone has given a best guess at.  Described in its most polite form it’s called “predictive planning”.  Which really means it’s a guess… no data is used to estimate it.  The perception it gives is dangerous, it’s a false sense of security. There is no evidence it will be delivered, just the false hope that this is when you might get something.

RAG statuses.  I wont spend ages on this, as it upsets me…. What possible value is there from staring at an Excel or PowerPoint chart where someone has, based on what they think, decided to put RED, AMBER and GREEN down against a list that they think you need to know about.  Its just a guess and again, has little in the way of data to actually support what is going on.  Yes you can sprinkle a paragraph or two about “progress” but it’s all still open to being ‘gamed’.

Agile brings people bang up to date.  It takes real world data to help people predict when something is likely to arrive as a feature, be delivered, add value, etc.  If you don’t like the date that comes out, you can reprioritise the existing workload to ensure it comes sooner.  The Backlog (or to-do list as people might refer to it) is the list of deliverables, features or activities that add business value.  Using data from the last sprints its possible to see how far down that backlog the team will get within a given period.  Thus removing the need for a milestone chart.

The RAG status all becomes redundant.  You have a known team size, with a fixed capacity, working through a flexible backlog producing outcomes on a regular basis.  The RAG is no longer required on Agile deliveries – you can use the data to know where thing are trending and if interventions are needed.

People have the belief that Agile is not appropriate for large scale deliveries.  It couldn’t be further from the truth.  With Waterfall your rely on peoples perceptions of how far they have got, and even worse, they lie to tell you what they think you need to hear.  With Agile its impossible to hide – you always know what each squad / agile team is working on as the backlog and burndown are always within sight.

Waterfall offers you the belief that something is progressing and allows managers, delivery leads, developers, testers, to hide behind data which has been produced by them to paint a picture they want to present.  Agile ensures that people can only show what is actually happening, the value that is actually being delivered, the pace that its actually achieved.  Agile offers complete transparency.

If people want to continue to use Waterfall then so be it, but I can guarantee you this, Agile deliveries will always be more transparent, deliver value quicker and provide a better product than any Waterfall delivery.

Waterfall is the past, Agile is the present.  Agile is better.

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