Project Management

Agile & Waterfall Application Development: Meant for Each Other?

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

In most IT circles, the mere suggestion of marrying agile and waterfall application development models into a seamless hybrid would be scoffed at, marginalized and even deemed an offense against those faithful to their respective ideologies. Through years of leading application development projects, I can attest with confidence that there is merit to the concept.

Before diving into this proposed merging of agile and waterfall, it is important to provide a general definition of each:

  • “Agile software development is a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen interactions throughout the development cycle.” (From: Wikipedia)
  • “The Waterfall model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one … In software development, it tends to be among the less iterative and flexible approaches, as progress flows in largely one direction (‘downwards’ like a waterfall) through the phases of conception,…

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