The 'Appropriate' Project Approach
I recently attended a two-day workshop to help me get certified as a Scrum master. What made this class interesting is that I am a "traditionalist" -- a project manager who leads and manages projects using the waterfall approach. This was going to be a whole new ballgame for me.
While I am not particularly new to the concepts of agile, I was looking forward to learning the extended basic agile concepts, frameworks and skill sets, and learning to apply those skills.
Surprisingly, I understood more of Scrum than I thought I would and realized I was already implementing some agile principles into my waterfall projects. Most importantly, I realized that the debates surrounding waterfall versus Scrum may just be full of hot air.
The focus of those arguments is that one approach is categorically better than the other in all circumstances. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Traditional and agile frameworks are neither better nor worse than the other. But, either could be completely disastrous for a project if applied broadly.
One of the most important ideas I took away was the idea of 'appropriateness.' Scrum is about finding the right level of planning, documentation, velocity of task output, cost and schedule -- and not just per project, but per team. It's not about what is 'best,' but what is appropriate and suitably fits the set of circumstances at hand.
I began to think that if all project managers embraced this idea of using an appropriate approach instead of the perceived 'best' approach, projects could potentially get along much better than they currently are.
I think that what is appropriate for a project could be waterfall, it could be agile or it could be a hybrid. And that would mean project managers would have to be well versed in all kinds of approaches and understand several project management languages.
At the end of the two days, and after an online assessment, I became certified as a Scrum master, but I think I became more than that. I got better at being able to identify what a project needs and what a team needs. Now, I have a few choices as to which approach is appropriate to meet those needs and ensure success.
Do you think there can be a hybrid?
Congratulations on getting your Scrum Master certifiation.
I agree with your observation that most debate about waterfall vs. agile is nonesense. For me, the main reason it is nonesense is because very few project managers today are actually following purely waterfall methodology. It is simply impossible to do so today because of the relentless pressure for change and speed (unless you are leading one of those mega defense related project for the government).
Today, most project managers are already using a hybrid of traditional and agile practices even if they don't set out to do so. In fact, for some projects that involve integrating vendor systems (COTS or System Integration Projects), only a hybrid approach will actuall work. These types of project do not lend themselves to using the pure agile model.
So although we may not recognize it, most of us are already using a hybrid approach to projects.
|Chan Keen Soon|
Salient points you raise there. I personally think most projects run in a 'hybrid approach' too.
The only thing that is disconcerting in my opinion is the strong marketing push for "agile" as the best methodology. While I can see the merits, and have adopted some agile-like practices in my past projects, I am not fully convinced it is THE magical solution.
This is especially when there are enterprise systems that are mission-critical in nature. Such systems in the requirements and design phases, simply need stricter scope and more thought out designs, which are critical for its longevity and performance.
Eg: Banking systems simply need platforms or customizations which are locked in in terms of requirements and design, else if you face changes frequently, it wreaks havoc on your development, testing, security and performance. A PURE Agile approach does not work, and I have found it much better with mini-waterfalls instead.
There is no "or" but always an "and" as it fits best - every situation and each project is unique, and so is the decision. Hybrid is traditional and/or agile combined at the right time and the right work package to optimize the overall outcome.
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