Waterfall (Traditional) or Agile Project Management Approach? Which one is right for you? - Part II

Traditional or Agile Project Management Approach? Which one is right for you?

There are certain principles and differences between agile and traditional project management approaches. We looked at those in previous post Waterfall / Traditional or Agile Project Management Approach? We should also understand that purest form of traditional (or heavy) or agile project management may be applicable to certain industries or specific kind of projects. In real practice, the line between these two may blur.

Yet, if you have to consider these two approaches distinctly and make a decision - let's look at project aspects, or project scenarios that can help you choose between traditional or agile project management approach

traditional or agile project management approach


Project Aspect/ Scenario

Use Agile Project Management

Use Waterfall Project Management


Project complexity, duration, size

If smaller – can use agile

If larger –Waterfall approach can be useful


Does key stakeholder (primarily customer) has upfront clarity of requirements as well clear idea about final outcome before project is kicked off

If answer is no, go agile way

If answer yes, then waterfall is more suitable


Does customer requirement, project scope is changing or expected to change through project lifecycle

If answer is frequently, then agile approach is better.

If answer is not often, then waterfall can be a choice.


Expected/required ongoing customer engagement throughout project lifecycle – high

Go agile.



High level customer engagement– Primarily expected in the beginning and during User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phases. Intermittent and low level engagement expected during project execution

Agile may not be most preferred choice

Go for waterfall approach


Is your team adaptive, skilled (or trained to be) for frequent scope changes/ dynamic/rapid delivery model

If yes then Go for Agile

If not ready, then take it slow


Extent of Interface and integration with external processes, systems

If basic – Yes

If complicated and significantly interdependent – take waterfall approach


Desired Time to Market

If short and with rapid incremental improvement expected- Yes

If all deliverables expected in a stipulated timeline – Yes


If project documentation for audit and compliance purpose are required




For any of these approaches to succeed, it is important to have

  • Buy-in and strong support by Senior Management
  • Well thought ways to manage resistance
  • I can't resist but re-emphasize Change Management here (training, pilot, champion)
Post by Dhan Wagholikar

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