Agile vs Waterfall

Imagine that you are going to throw a party. Let’s compare two ways how to do it.

The party is planned for the next weekend and there is a number of tasks to do. Check who is coming, decide on a venue, prepare the food, perhaps fix the music, arrange some games, etc. Fortunately, your friends Alice, Bob, Charlotte and David will help you.

Let’s start with the traditional waterfall model. In classical project management, you do a lot of investigation first, for example how many and who is coming, what kind of food and music your friends like, will they play some games or just chat. Then you create a checklist, or for a more complex project, a project plan and assign tasks to people. Maybe Alice will make and send the invitations, Bob will arrange his home, since he lives in a house, Charlotte will do the dinner and David, the DJ, will take care of the music. Everyone knows what to do so you can relax, right? Wrong. There may be a fire accident at Bob’s house and Charlotte may get sick. In project management you handle this through Change Management, a headache of every project manager.

How do you manage the party with the agile approach? First of all, you recognize that things can go wrong so you deal only with the most important task at the moment. Of course, you need to figure out who is coming, prepare the food and so on. To better cope the tasks you put them in a list called backlog. The backlog is frequently reprioritized so the team knows what needs to be done next. Some of the tasks with low priority will end up at the bottom of the backlog and may even not be done at all. On the other hand new tasks with high priority bubble up to the top and you don’t need to deal with Change Management at all. If you know that people will mostly chat, Daivd can help out with the dinner instead if Charlotte gets sick.

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