It’s common in talks about digital transformation to make fun of waterfall as a
software delivery methodology, but that’s not entirely fair. Waterfall works great
if your requirements are unchanged, you understand your users and, as a result,
you don’t need to be highly adaptable to users’ changing needs.
As with most things these days, though, those stable, slow-moving conditions are
becoming less and less common. Today’s users expect fast bug fixes, new features
and regular updates. Similarly, today’s competitors are moving faster, nimbly adding
new service offerings and addictive features. And good developers, who should put an
emphasis on user experience, don’t want undue process getting in the way of necessary
progress. Perhaps that’s why, according to the 2018 Standish Group Chaos Study,
21 percent of waterfall software projects are considered failures, compared with only
8 percent of agile projects.
However, going agile alone doesn’t ensure success. The same Standish Group study
also found that 50 percent of agile projects were challenged—only slightly lower than the
53 percent of waterfall projects that were challenged. This begs the question of why agile
projects get stuck so frequently? And, more importantly, how organizations can unstick
their agile projects.
This guide was co-authored by Dormain Drewitz of VMware and Brian Roche of Cognizant.