Good news:

You’ve picked up a new client, and she is looking to expand her successful business to an online platform.

Your Dilemma:
Before you build out the project, what project management methodology will work best to make this project successful? Big question: should you choose Waterfall or Scrum?

Each project management method has strengths and weaknesses, so to deliver the best result there’s one question you need to ask to better understand the needs of the customer.

 “Does the client have a clear vision of what needs to be created?”

This answer should determine the strategy and method used for selecting between Waterfall and Scrum aligned to the merits of each process. If the answer is “Yes”, select Waterfall. If the answer is “No”, select Scrum. Here’s why, and how each method will be used most successfully.

Waterfall Method

For the customer who has a clear vision of what he hopes to create, the Waterfall method is a linear design process that requires little input beyond the initial stages of creation. Broken down into five stages, the waterfall method means each stage reaches completion before the next stage begins. Following evaluation and testing, the customer is presented a completed product ready for use. The stages generally include,

  1. Analysis
  2. Design
  3. Implementation
  4. Testing
  5. Evaluation

Strengths of Waterfall

Waterfall’s strength is in the documentation. For clients that require hard deadlines and adherence to strict budgets, the waterfall method leaves no room for surprises. The client knows what to expect and knows what the software will provide.

From a backend perspective, radical documentation means a new developer can pick up where a former team member left off. This ensures smooth transitions in staff and seamless service for the customer.

Risk Factors and Weaknesses of Waterfall Project Management

The distinguishing factor of this method that often makes customers a little squeamish is the permanence of the process. Design decisions are made in the initial stage and are maintained until the final evaluation, which isn’t always a bad thing.  This dedication to structure is ideal for short projects that have a solid design with little need for change.

As the name implies, once the waterfall has moved downhill, it cannot return. This means once a step has been completed, it cannot be changed. This process places an extreme amount of pressure on the initial requirements and a clear understanding of the customer’s feature set.  If the customer isn’t happy with the result or the developers coded a stage incorrectly, the project must be scrapped and started over.

Scrum Method

Scrum and other agile project management tools were introduced in response to the limitations of the waterfall method. This incremental system illustrates a very different view of the overall process that caters to change, flexibility and adjusting stages.

This “inspect and adapt” framework greatly reduces investment in product development since designs are produced in stages or “sprints.” These are easy to change or enhance with additional features before moving on to the next stage.

The basic life cycle of a project includes,

  1. Planning
  2. Building
  3. Testing
  4. Reviewing

This process is repeated over and over again to ensure this piece of the project is perfected, functional, and meets the desires and needs of the customer.

Strengths of Scrum

This method means the scrum team creates just enough preparation to get started, providing a minimal feature set based on the customer’s product backlog.  This “wish list” is what creates the release backlog, which is broken down into time packets called “sprints.” The sprint illustrates the estimated time required to complete a specific piece. Those sprints are then indicated on a burndown chart.  Using time estimates, the team can estimate the date of project completion.

The advantage of this method is the flexibility of each stage of production. It produces the highest business value in the shortest time by developing product in increments (sprints). Should the needs of the customer change or a shift in the industry require adjustments, the design team can easily incorporate those changes into a sprint without derailing the entire project.

Risk Factors with Scrum Project Management

Not all projects work well under an agile method. Repeating the process to perfect the design can be a lengthy and costly endeavor, often causing some projects to go over budget and way past deadline.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of an agile method is also its biggest challenge. This method’s ability to be flexible and easily changeable can, at times, cause the customer to lose focus of the original purpose.  This method is ideal if a customer isn’t clear on what will work best for his business, but that lack of vision can also result in a host of changes, a confusing plan, and an enormous expense.

Using Software to Deliver the Best Customer Experience

Regardless of methodology chosen, the execution of the workflow and management of the project is a critical determining factor to the success of the project and happiness of the customer.

Because every project is different, we developed Scalus to support Waterfall and Scrum by focusing on automating the tasks that will improve workflow and provide better communication with staff and customers.

Applying Software to Automate Workflow

Taking the time to understand the needs of the customer ensures your time with the customer will be positive and profitable for both parties and your solution is best aligned with their goals. By applying software to automate the workflow you can immediately reduce the complexity, friction and process required for a task to be completed.

Scalus, a better way to work.

Scalus, a communication and workflow management platform has developed an automated, collaborative tool to ensure your projects are successful and your efforts are maximized. Sign up for a free trial and see how companies like Expensify and AngelList are using Scalus to create the ideal work environment to maximize efficiency and work better.