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Episode 195 (Audio): Criteria for Selecting Agile over Waterfall... Or Not. (Free)

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This episode is sponsored by The PMP Exam Simulator:

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In today’s episode we are going to take a look at a number of criteria that you can apply in order to select between Agile and waterfall-based project management methodologies.

And let me just say that the title of the presentation… “Criteria for selecting Agile over Waterfall… or not” was intentionally selected to be a bit controversial but I promise that what you will be seeing and hearing in this video will look at many facets and give you a better understanding of the matter at hand.

The reason why we are looking at criteria "for and against" Agile today has to do with the fact that I recently gave a 2.5 hour long webinar presentation for The PDU Podcast. I received great feedback about that presentation and decided to share some of my insights here on The PM Podcast with you.

Once you've listened to this episode, if you want to take the topic further, why not listen to another Agile podcast I recorded on the Agile Manifesto in project management.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #195. I am Cornelius Fichtner. This is The Project Management Podcast™. Nice to have you with us.

In today’s episode, we are going to take a look at a number of criteria that you can apply in order to select between Agile and Waterfall-based project management methodologies.

Let me just say that that title of the presentation “Criteria for Selecting Agile over Waterfall or Not” was intentionally selected and designed to be a bit controversial but I promise you that what you will be seeing and hearing in this video will look at many facets and give you a better understanding of the matter at hand.

But first, did you miss me or did you even notice that The PM Podcast was unusually quiet last month? Well, allow me to extend my sincerest apologies to all of you for this period of silence. But unfortunately, I was sick for about 2 weeks. We were flying back from Switzerland to our home here in California and unfortunately, I picked up a nasty bug on the plane and I was starting to feel sick and weak about 2 days after we landed and I was pretty much out of it for most of September. But now, I’m back and will resume a normal schedule here on the Podcast.

But just in case you are wondering, you know, on the Customs’ forms at the border after we landed, you know where they ask you “Do you have anything to declare?” I did not put down, “I’m bringing in a nasty cold virus.” So what I had was a smuggled and completely illegal cold.

But back to the topic at hand: So why are we talking about selection criteria for Agile or for Waterfall? Well, it all has to do with our sister podcast, The PDU Podcast™ on which I recently gave a presentation, a webinar on Agile titled “An Overview of Agile Methods and Agile Project Management”.

And one of my customers over there, he gave me some excellent feedback after he had seen that webinar of mine. He said “You know, I was never really a fan of Agile methods but after having seen your presentation”, it’s about two and a half hours long by the way, he now thinks that it’s time to reconsider his position. And since I’ve been able to sway him, I figured ‘Hey, why not take a small portion of that webinar and also give it sort of as a taste to my subscribers here on The Project Management Podcast™ not necessarily as a taste of The PDU Podcast™ but as a taste of Agile.

So you can consider this presentation here to be sort of an extension of the presentation that we did a few episodes ago about the Agile Manifesto. So here is what you’ll hear generally speaking about Agile:

Well, Agile is unfit for government projects. Or don’t use Agile on a pilot project because it’ll definitely go wrong. And then you’ll also hear things like well, Agile has lack of structure and therefore, it is unfit for small projects and opposite of that, people say, well, Agile doesn’t scale well and you cannot really use Agile on large scale projects.

But no matter where you personally stand in this whole debate. The debate itself and the arguments that you will hear in the debate clearly shows that Agile is simply not a matter of one-size-fits-all approach. You cannot simply say that if a project meets this, say, 5 criteria then go ahead and use an Agile project management methodology and approach on it.

And that is why I want to clearly say at this point here before we get started on the next slide, we’re looking at the individual criteria that when it comes to these criteria, do not think of them or use them as selectors. Instead, use them as indicators whether or not the projects that you are currently considering for Agile might be suited to be used in an Agile environment. I’ll repeat this again at the end of this whole thing when we have seen the various criteria and I’ll also show you exactly what I mean by use them as indicators. You’ll see two examples of how we can do that.

There are of course hundreds of criteria that you could use in order to decide whether or not to use Agile methods on your project. What I have done is I have selected the 12, well shall we call them, most popular criteria and we’re going to take a look at them right now and we start out with the Project Scope.

In regards to the Project Scope, ask yourself: “Is the project scope dynamic or is the project scope fixed?” In regards to a dynamic project scope as an example here, we’re talking about software development where new criteria are usually showing up in regular intervals and the customer changes his or her mind almost on an hourly basis or are we talking about a construction project may be building 20 houses in a development area? The scope is usually quite fixed and we plan in the beginning what the house is that we are constructing are going to look like in the very end.

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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