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Organizational Transformation: The Shift from Waterfall to Agile Approach

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Written By Sajid A. Khan
Published On September 28, 2018

Organizations thrive when they deliver on the promise they made to their customers. One contentious issue in customer satisfaction has always been the consistency of ensuring high-quality outcomes. In testing methodologies, two methods are often used in digital transformation frameworks: the Waterfall and the Agile methods.

The Waterfall methodology is a pioneer in organizational transformation meteorologist. It’s a linear approach to testing, the sequence is as follows:

  1. Conception
  2. Initiation
  3. Analysis
  4. Design
  5. Build
  6. Testing
  7. Delivery

Each stage is distinct and mutually exclusive, which means the user has to finish the first phase to move on to the next. Typically, before moving forward to the next step between conception and initiation, the draft must first be approved by the project manager or the client.

However, there is an apparent issue with this approach. It operates under the assumption that everything will go according to the plan. If the final product is rejected, the user goes back to square one.

On the other hand, the Agile method is incremental instead of linear. The software lifespan is divided into several cycles. Instead of one big release, the user will roll out several iterations with the latest version better than the previous one. In between cycles, the product undergoes thorough testing to guarantee superior quality results.

What are the Agile Methods?

The Agile methodology is anchored on the four core principles as outlined by its creators in the Agile Manifesto. The four core principles revolve around:

  • Human assets and interactions are more important than tools and process
  • Customer relationships and collaboration
  • Functioning software rather than being saddled with documentation
  • Dynamic and quick responses to changes

The most commonly used Agile methodologies are:

Scrum – Considered to be the pioneer model in the Agile approach despite predating the Manifesto by quite a number of years.

Extreme Programming – Although not as popular as Scrum in terms of deployment, XP puts more premium on writing and testing the code.

Kanban – Although some developers may use Kanban as an alternative, it’s actually a subset of Scrum. But this methodology is designed to support the rapid development and deployment of the software cycle.

There are others in the agile project management, too, such as the Adaptive Software Development, DSDM, Feature-Driven Development, Lean Development, or Pragmatic Programming.

Steps to Transition from Waterfall to Agile

To implement a digital project transformation, it’s time for organizations to evolve from the old way of struggling on a complex project that takes 12 months to complete towards directing their efforts to release products in two-week cycles. When it comes to software development, it’s not a marathon but a sprint.

In this way, developers can always input customer feedback in the next production cycle until the best product is rolled out.

Consider the following when introducing Agile methodologies to a Waterfall team:

  1. Equip them with the right tools – One major benefit of the shift from Waterfall methodology to Agile methodology is the flexibility it provides. But in order to effectively implement change, the proper resources must be made available. Some examples include the Agile Manager, Active Collaboration , Agile Bench, TelerikTeamPulse, Version One, and Lean Kit.
  2. Capacitate individuals and teams – An adjustment period is to be expected but constant training and technology-transfer will help boost their capacity. The main changes are the time element and the workload, especially if the team is working on several projects at once.
  3. Team feedback–An important aspect of adopting Agile is there is always room for improvement. The learning curve is fast due to the limited time frames. The feedback of each member of the team would identify gaps, weaknesses, and strengths which can be applied or corrected in the next cycle.
  4. Scale difficulty levels – During the initial stages, decide on the difficulty level of the user stories. What part of the process requires the most number of billable hours? What section is the most complex?

Digital Transformation Impact After the Shift from Waterfall to Agile 

The Agile methodology is anchored on the principle that a year long incubation period for a technology change is no longer viable. The obvious outcome of the shift from the Waterfall methodology is the high-quality output that meets customer expectations. This will be achieved by incorporating team and customer feedback in between sprints. This improved methodology also allows project managers to exert more control over the product life cycle. Finally, the risk of project failure is minimized by keeping apprised of all actions and outcomes on an on-going basis

Keeping Pace With Digital Transformation

Using the Agile method, businesses can better address the challenges of digital transformation. A drawback of the Waterfall methodology is the reliance on heavy documentation, which is not feasible for some ecosystems or when teams are managing multiple projects simultaneously. For the most part, the Agile method is better equipped to handle complex tasks while still retaining strict quality control and the ability to deliver superior customer satisfaction.

There are also situations where the traditional method is not only necessary but crucial, such as harnessing nuclear power, which needs rigorous protocols and documentation. Whether or not organizations decide to employ the Waterfall or Agile method, the most important thing is self-awareness. In the end, the decision on which method to utilize relies heavily on the needs of the specific team and organization to meet their goals of success.

 

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