Project Management

Agile vs. Waterfall: Making it Clear to the Customer

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I recently worked on a project for a customer that I had worked with many times before. It was always a pleasurable experience because they understood their role in the project and lived up to their end of the bargain. Requirements were always provided early and had been thoroughly reviewed inside their organization before being approved. They understood the importance of change control and never tried to go around the process. They were as close as you can get to the perfect customer.

This time things were very different. The requirements were not particularly clear, and were certainly incomplete. There were many discussions around changes that would likely be necessary and how they would be incorporated. I quickly stepped in to ask what was going on and got the reply, “I thought that you guys were using agile now. Isn’t this how it’s supposed to work?”

As project managers, we sometimes forget that the way that our projects are executed is not always clear to our customers. In this particular situation, a project manager on a previous initiative had advised the customer that they were going to use agile to manage the project and that the requirements could therefore evolve as the project proceeded. The customers’ assumption was that all projects would now be managed that way. This was a fairly easy correction to make, but it did raise …


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- Robert Frost

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