What is WAgile Project Management?


by Cloud Coach

For many people, the process of editing is easier than creating. When faced with a blank canvas, how does one create something from nothing? By selecting a Project Management methodology, Project Managers can access existing templates for processes and teams are given a script to follow. The burden of the blank canvas is lifted, but the formula for success may be different for each team, project, and culture.

Waterfall versus Agile. Predictive versus revelatory. Project Management is not a binary system yet there seems to be a lot of pressure to pick a single model and fully commit. The idea that there is no middle ground is inaccurate and unrealistic which is why a hybrid, or WAgile, project management methodology can be the right fit. According to the Project Management Institute’s Agile Practice Guide, this type of model might combine predictive, iterative, incremental, and/or agile approaches.

Overview

WAgile is sometimes referred to as Hybrid or Waterfall-Agile Project Management and it mixes together principles and practices of both the predictive and adaptive lifecycles. There are several ways to integrate practices à la carte and the reasons for a mixed model might include:

  • Transition to a new methodology: rollout selected practices over time instead of a hard cutover
  • Teams using different methodologies working on the same project
  • Process Improvement and best practice discovery for new project element
  • Regulation or contractual requirements for specific pieces of work

Characteristics

Using multiple approaches during the project lifecycle is what defines the WAgile model and they can be combined in different ways to create a formula for a successful outcome. Here are four methods of combining methodologies to achieve a cohesive plan:

WAgile Method 1: If the beginning of the project requires daily stand up meetings and iterative development as with an Agile model but testing, training and deployment are managed by a different team using a Waterfall methodology, the life cycle might look like:

WAgile Method 2: Combining approaches to run Agile and Waterfall concurrently might be applicable if the team is transitioning methodologies and some, but not all, characteristics are being integrated into the project culture and lifecycle. This might be modeled as:

WAgile Method 3: For simple, repeated projects that have a new or unknown element, it might mean that most of the project is run with a Waterfall methodology and only the work around the new/unknown element is managed with Agile. This allows the team to experiment with the best way to complete the work, iterate, and improve before moving on to the more predictable work. Projects that are mostly Waterfall with limited Agile could be modeled like this:

WAgile Method 4: When the opposite scenario is true and you have a complex project with many unknowns and a non-negotiable or not executable element then a mostly Agile with limited Waterfall model would work well. An example of this type of project might be if a new tool is being developed for an institution and regulations exist for a specific, prescribed set of tasks must be documented, this could be modeled by:

If a Project Manager’s goal is to produce the best outcomes with regard to satisfaction, budget, and schedule the name of the methodology doesn’t matter. Asking questions can help determine if a project is a candidate for a mixed model:

  • How can we be most successful?
  • Is feedback needed as the team produces value?
  • Is it necessary to manage risk as ideas are explored?

Advantages

  • Each project optimized for success
  • Each process evaluated for fit
  • Bespoke methodology, à la carte

Disadvantages

  • Requires Waterfall and Agile expertise
  • Overwhelming possible combinations
  • Repeatability challenging

Conclusion

While the academic documentation around Project Management methodologies serves as a guide that forms the foundation of the formula of success, those formulae cannot account for are the qualities that make every team and every project unique. It can advise on best practices, provide templates, and develop productive habits but it should ultimately be the needs of the project that determine how Waterfall and Agile are mixed or blended for the right WAgile approach to work. 

Project management is like a road trip. There is a destination in mind and the methodology you choose will determine the road you take as well as the stops you make along the way. The right software plays a role in your journey, and using a tool like Cloud Coach can help you have a great road trip! Ultimately, we find that single-mindedly following a methodology could mean that you aren’t taking the most efficient route or you miss attractions. If the process of tailoring a project is considered a best practice, why shouldn’t the model and methodology be included in that customization?

Articles from Cloud Coach:

What Is Waterfall?

What Is Agile?