Guest Post by: Furqan Hameed (Mentee, Session 5, The Product Mentor) [Paired with Mentor, Michael Robinson]
It is easier to implement scrum at an earlier stage of an organization where it is just beginning to scale. The same cannot be said about large and complex enterprises. With passage of time it becomes more and more challenging to make the transition from traditional waterfall method to agile practices.
Agile can prove to be very beneficial in product based companies where the whole focus of the business is on the product to provide value to its customers , as a matter of fact in the modern day world a product company starting up with waterfall practices is bound to fail many challenges. In contrast, the service or project based companies will often encounter customers who will order something with a fixed time, fixed budget and fixed scope. To make things worse either they don’t know about agile or they don’t really care about it. In such situations companies are forced to revert to waterfall practices.
Another observation is that agile is very successful with b2c companies where they are majorly focused on the end customers. In b2c companies, the competitive landscape is changing so rapidly that you have to become agile otherwise competition will eat you up. The customers expect you to deliver value to them, and deliver it fast. The provided feedback from these customers is of utmost importance and as soon as you figure out that something is not working out the way its suppose to be you start taking actions to mitigate the situation. In b2b business it is very different, you will have to please few important stakeholders to get the acceptance of what you have delivered. It is highly likely that a contract has already been negotiated which contains the scope, budget and time constraints of the project.
Bottom line is that you cannot push people to be agile but certainly can force them to follow waterfall software development method. It is becoming more and more evident in places where more than one party is involved in taking key decisions and one of them does not see the full potential of being agile. These situations are very tricky and hence needs to be handled accordingly. One option is to use the best of both worlds by applying (most of) agile values on waterfall approach. This can lead to a hybrid model well known as Wagile software development.
What is Wagile?
It is best described by Wikipedia as
“Wagile software development is a group of software development methodologies that result from slipping from agile back into waterfall, doing a lot of short waterfalls and thinking it is agile, waterfall model masquerading as agile software development”
There is so much hate against Wagile software development method that few have gone as far as to call it to be the “pinnacle of dysfunctional development methodologies”*. But the question remains does it really work? In my experience it can if you don’t lose the perspective.
When to use Wagile?
Wagile software development becomes vital when you are dealing with different stakeholders. It adds great value with b2b enterprise customers. These customers have fixed scope, fixed budget and fixed time projects that they expect you to execute. On top of it, they are only concerned with the status updates that in which phase project currently is. Given this waterfall approach, it becomes challenging to follow agile. The best available solution is to apply agile values to waterfall process and make it as agile as possible.
How to use Wagile?
The key to successful Wagile implementation is focusing on the core values of the agile manifesto. Agile manifesto states that it values:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools:
By focusing on the individuals and interactions you can build a sustaining relationship with these waterfall clients and earn their trust.
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Remember, the client is waterfall not you. You should focus on working software instead of generating loads and loads of documents regarding analysis and design phase of the project.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Every function in your organization should try to engage different functions of customer in order to create an healthy environment of collaboration.
Responding to change over following a plan
The first 3 are easy to crack in Wagile model. This one however requires extra care as whenever there is a need to respond to change you will have customer forced limitations of time and budget. This is a pure game of expectation management. Letting the clients know that we are open to changes that they are asking but it will affect the timelines that they are enforcing and will have an impact on the costs.
Furqan Hameed is working in the ICT for past 7 years. Currently he is responsible for Product and Marketing in Seamless Distribution Systems, a Swedish fintech company. Previously he has been working with leading American financial technology provider i2c inc in the prepaid card industry. He holds a bachelor degree in Telecom Engineering from FAST-NU Pakistan.
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The Product Guy