Skip to content

Agile vs Waterfall Project Management

As I've started to plug into the virtual PM community via Twitter (#webpm #pmot) and other sites I follow, I've learned that there is a HUGE need for digital/web PM collaboration

by Zach Williams

I'm going to step out on the vulnerability limb here a little bit and just say that I don't know a lot about project management theory and methodology. I love what I do, and most of the things I'm good at I've learned by making mistakes.

As I've started to plug into the virtual PM community via Twitter (#webpm #pmot) and other sites I follow, I've learned that there is a HUGE need for digital/web PM collaboration. There are some other #webpm's out there blogging on the very subject, but it seems we haven't yet figured out how to make it all happen. Here's a primary reason I would go wherever, whenever for a #webpm conference.

I've done the research. I've read the manifesto. And, I'm intrigued by the idea. But how do I get started? I've dipped my toe into the water just a little bit on a few projects, but it was mostly in the design phase; trying out a more agile approach to design vs the traditional waterfall method.

If we are going to adopt agile PM, then I would be the one to implement it, but without any resources to really talk to, I'm uncertain of how I would transition the entire PM process to agile!

Here's the little I know:

Agile is a project management style (right?) and SCRUM is an agile methodology. Also, agile principles were developed in response to software development projects, so most of the arguments against waterfall PM, which include developers isolated from customer needs, low project visibility, not meeting timelines and noticing it too late, process taking so long that by the time it's done business objectives have changed), are software development nightmares that have little relevance to the types of digital projects I've worked on.

Why I'm intrigued by the Core Values agile has to offer:

These sound great. But, what do these actually mean in relation to my actual projects? What kinds of process changes would I have to make and modify? How the heck does client sign off and approvals work in this framework? These are the things I would love to have a candid conversation about with some PM peers.

Also, I have never really experienced most of the disadvantages listed here for waterfall in my projects. What intrigues me about agile PM is the opportunity to have a more flexible and successful project management process for all teams involved, but I'm having a hard time extracting that from what's available to me via Google searches. Plus, all the classes and training I've looked into are time intensive and expensive, and I'm not convinced I want to invest in something I'm only intrigued by at the moment.

Agile vs waterfall traditional

Sprints, Stories, ScrumMasters, Backlogs...right now I'm just trying to learn the new language! I'm very intrigued by what SCRUM has to offer, and this diagram I came across has been the easiest thing for me to digest.

Scrum mechanics

I'm particularly interested in the Sprints concept and breaking the project into smaller "phases" and focusing on those. In some ways, we have a similar process right now. Which brings up some more questions, how do I really know if the process we are using at Venveo is waterfall? Could it be more of a waterfall, agile hybrid? What types of things would define our process as waterfall? These are the things I would like to know before I can say out with waterfall and in with agile.

So all this to say, I'd love some feedback on this from other PMs in the industry. Please share your successes with agile PM and how you got introduced to it. How do your clients respond to this process? How does your team respond? Let's get the conversation started!

Start a Project
Let's do great work together!

Content marketing placeholder 2