Agile Vs. Waterfall Project Management

One of the biggest questions in the Project Management industry tends to be what is the difference between Agile Project Management and Waterfall Project Management, and what is the best system for my project.

In a true Waterfall project, you are doing your project planning at the beginning of the project and in an Agile project you are planning in 2-week sprints, almost like little mini waterfall projects.

Agile is extremely popular in the world of IT, but has been implemented in other industries, including automotive and construction. The Healthcare industry or those projects focused heavily on safety, tend to adopt Waterfall.

There are several components of Agile Project Management that could be applied to a Waterfall based project. For example, daily standups, where the team gets together for 10-15 minutes, preferably at the beginning of the day to talk about what they've been doing, what needs to get accompliash and any road blocks they've encountered.

These discussions can happen in either waterfall or agile. In fact, they SHOULD happen in either one.

Waterfall tends to get a bad wrap for a couple reasons. First, you have to do all of the planning upfront, which can seem like a daunting task. There is also a misconception that you can't change the plan once it has been written, however the plan is more of a guide or pathway throughout the life of your project and can be adapted (within reason) as needed.

Agile allows more of an open source of changes. You could actually make a complete pivot if needed in-between your 2-week sprints. That's not always recommended, but it is possible with the flexibility Agile provides.

Enterprise Technology Projects uses both waterfall and agile project management methods. We belive it comes down to the culture of the organization we are working with and the team itself. We strive to find the best suited project management style for the project.

Often times if we are dealing with a project that is going to require extensive planning up-front, then we will use Waterfall Project Management. If the project is IT-based or could be rapidly changing, we lean towards Agile Project Management.

What project management style do you tend to prefer?