As always, the question depends. Agile or Waterfall? Again, it depends. If you have a predictable outcome (SCOPE), then a predictive approach to project management like Waterfall makes sense. But if there is a high degree of uncertainty, then an Agile approach makes sense. Remembering that Agile is a mindset and not a methodology. If you decide on an Agile approach, then you would consider a methodology like Scrum or Kanban for your project.
Often, I hear, “We are an Agile shop.” This leaves me scratching my head. While there might elements of project management where Agile might make sense, I doubt the accounting department is adopting Agile. If there is a high degree of uncertainty in your financials, you’ve got bigger problems than Kanban vs. Scrum.
Ideally, we would consider the nature of the project before selecting the methodology for project management. But in reality, we all have certain skill sets, and that is how we see the world. If you have been a waterfall practitioner, you will approach projects because that is what makes sense to you based on your skill sets. Shifting from a predictive approach to an agile approach takes some work. New skills, new approaches, and we even measure outcomes differently. In the predictive approach, we are successful when we follow the plan and deliver based on scope. In Agile, we are successful when we deliver value to the customer. In predictive, we tend to look at individual performance; in agile, we look at teams’ collective output.
I know what you are thinking; the theory is nice and all. But which do I pick? There will be a growing demand for either in the years to come. If you’re a detail person who likes predictable outcomes, hates change, and digs metrics – then Waterfall is for you. If you are more of a digital type who likes to explore disruptive technologies and is happy not knowing where you are going until you get there, Agile is for you.
When we pick a methodology, we recommend looking at the approach that best meets the project’s needs. Depending on your skillsets, the kind of work you want to do, and where you hope to be in 5-10 years, then select the approach that best aligns with those aspirations.