There are probably thousands of internet discussions, endless meetings and forums that talk about Waterfall vs. Agile Methodologies and whether Waterfall is dead, etc. Like with many other questions or hot issues – there is no single answer. However, as project management continues to evolve, it is very clear that Waterfall as we know it is indeed dead and soon will be extinct.
The whole idea around Waterfall approach is that it is a rigid process, with sequential phases, phase gates and tight controls. Changes (a.k.a. change requests) are heavily “penalized” with consequences to cost, scope or schedule. This methodology worked “well” in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s because things were run mostly by large, bureaucratic corporations. With the arrival of internet, small and innovative start-ups, things started to change. Time to market, quality and cost became key factors that determined the success for a company. That’s when Agile methodology was embraced and became quite popular as of late. It is efficient, transparent and “easy to maneuver”. In addition, Agile appeals a lot to the current culture we live in: we want everything NOW! We are hungry for information, progress and something new.
Coming back to the blog post headline, in my opinion, Waterfall approach should not be embraced by corporations in today’s world as the primary (core) methodology. It does not necessarily mean that they should switch to Agile overnight either. Agile by itself might not work for many organizations due to audit or regulatory compliance issues (i.e. medical or finance industry). A combination of Waterfall and Agile is a great model worth investigating. However, companies can no longer afford being stuck in the stone age by embracing an old, outdated and somewhat irrelevant methodology. Otherwise, companies themselves risk becoming irrelevant in their field…
By the way, want another proof on what I stated above? Check this great article by Project Management Institute: The Evolution of Agile