08 December 2020 | Produced by Kandy Shaw
From tropical jungle to cold welsh castle, this year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity’ has certainly changed its environment! Environment plays a big part when deciding which project management methodology to adopt. There are two main approaches: Agile and Waterfall. So, in this post I will briefly outline what Agile and Waterfall methodologies are and then explain the differences between them. I will then show how the current ‘I’m a Celebrity’ environment is of an agile nature and how that environment might change if a waterfall approach were to be adopted. So, let’s have a look at Agile …
According to Taylor (2004) “…the project life cycle encompasses all the activities of the project…” This is the Agile approach to project management. ‘All the activities’ include people as well as processes and Agile is both people-centric and customer focused. Regular collaboration between team and customer is key to agile success. The customer gives feedback at the end of each sprint (stage of development) so the team know exactly what they are doing.
Although the younger of the two approaches, Agile is not so much a single methodology but rather a way of thinking, a mindset. Agile is an umbrella term for numerous frameworks and project development methods that have sprung from that mindset (Scrum is a very popular example). Being empirical and iterative in nature, Agile allows a flexible response to change because it focuses on developing solutions incrementally. In this way changes can be made even after initial planning is complete.
There is no specific beginning and end to an agile project. It is complete when the customer is satisfied. This means that the finished product could look completely different from what was initially envisioned, but that the customer is satisfied means it has been successful. As such, Agile offers a structured and scalable corporate framework. It is a practical and repeatable methodology that is easily adaptable to change and which focuses on rapid development and delivery of the product. Agile can be utilised both as a stand-alone approach to project management and alongside the more traditional waterfall approaches.
The more traditional Waterfall approach to project management is based on meticulous, detailed planning and documentation. As Taylor (2004) states “… the systems development life cycle focuses on realizing the product requirements”. Waterfall is predictive rather than adaptive like Agile. The end product is known from the start and meticulous development plans are made accordingly and results are as predicted. In contrast, the flexible approach of Agile, may produce a product quite different to what was first envisaged.
For Waterfall approaches there is little customer collaboration. The aim is to know what the customer wants so that the product is built correctly first time around. A defined and structured methodology, Waterfall follows a sequence. A detailed plan of requirements must be defined in full at the beginning before any work can start and there is a beginning and an end to the project.
From planning to end-product waterfall methodology follows phases that cascade down in sequence (hence the term waterfall). Each phase must be completed before the next can begin. There is no overlapping of the phases as the outcome of one acts as the input for the next. Illustrated simply: Shane Richie did not complete the washing-up phase after the evening meal, so the following breakfast phase could not be started!
Once the initial plan and documentation is approved, there’s little room for changes to be incorporated in a waterfall approach. Revisions might mean development needs to be taken back to the drawing board. Testing is often the last step of the process, so there is a possibility that if issues are found delays could result in late completion and delivery of product. It is believed that because each phase has been planned well then each will be successful. There is little collaboration between customer and development team for this reason until the product has been built and finally tested. Only then can its success be measured.
What are the differences between Agile and Waterfall?
There are four main differences between agile and waterfall methodologies.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- People and interaction over process and tools
- Adapting to change over adhering to sequence
- Developing/testing solutions over comprehensive documentation
In a nutshell, the most obvious difference between these methodologies is that whilst Agile completes projects iteratively in a cycle of sprints, Waterfall plans and follows a sequence. Agile envisions the end-product whilst Waterfall predicts how it will turn out. You could say that Agile leaves nothing to chance. Having planned everything from the beginning, it still allows for and adapts to changes and unforeseen issues that may arise as the cycle of the project progresses.
Agile relies on customer collaboration and feedback before the next sprint can begin, but Waterfall approaches do not value customer collaboration until the final build is ready for testing. As each Agile sprint is completed and customer feedback has been received the team is able to make adaptations quickly. They progress to the next sprint knowing that the previous one was successful, fixing any bugs as they go in a repeated cycle. Waterfall, however, assumes success of each stage and tests at the end.
Celebrities function in an Agile Environment
During this year’s I’m a Celebrity series, there was an unmistakably agile, or more specifically Scrum environment. The celebrity contestants did what needed to be done as and when required. Nobody stood out as a leader. Daily chores were not delegated to individuals, but rather they volunteered to complete them. Despite evictions morale was high. Enjoyable team spirit abounded pretty much all the way thorough the series.
Neither approach is necessarily a better one…
Neither Agile nor Waterfall could be said to be a better approach to project management than the other. It largely depends on environment and they can both be used alongside each other. The main reason for the adoption of agile over a more traditional method, however, is that it encourages and enhances both collaboration and teamwork. A happy team is usually a more productive one.
We have seen how contestants functioned in an agile environment during this year’s series of I’m a Celebrity. Banter, singing, pranks and practical jokes are the order of the day, but what would it be like for them if a waterfall approach were to be applied?
Would a waterfall approach be effective if applied to the I’m a Celebrity 2020 team?
Under less people-centric waterfall conditions the I’m a Celebrity team would be choosing not only who did the next trial but also who would leave the castle. The audience would have no say until the final vote when the winner is crowned. Pressure would be intense and morale low. Jordan’s happy place may no longer be reachable. Potentially this could see contestants hoping to leave rather than win. Mama Gi might not have become queen.
To use the Waterfall approach would mean that the audience wanted to see the celebrities really endure hardship and misery. Thankfully though, lack of audience participation would see little ROI (Return of Investment), so we will probably never know if I’m right!
Recommendations for training in both agile and waterfall methodologies
As stand-alone certifications, if you were considering an agile career then AgilePM or Certified Scrum Master are both highly recommended. The waterfall approach would be PRINCE2. To choose one or more of these certifications would set you up on a good career pathway especially if you combined both agile and waterfall approaches.
As a very quick and undetailed illustration of how more than one of these certifications can increase your career potential, I had a quick look on Indeed (Saturday 05.12.2020). There were 265 vacancies specifically asking for AgilePM (and thousands asking merely for Agile experience). Scrum boasted 611 and PRINCE2: 811. So, if you had AgilePM you would currently be able to look at 265 vacancies specifically asking for this certificate. If you had PRINCE2, then a further 811 possibilities can be added (See where this is going?) The more qualified you are, the more opportunities become available.
There is also a fourth recommendation for training; PRINCE2 Agile. This is not a stand-alone qualification but for more on this see my post entitled ‘PRINCE2® vs PRINCE2 Agile®: What are the differences?’ This qualification would also allow you 344 further opportunities according to the Indeed job board.
Same Goal: Different Approach
For both waterfall and agile, the goal of the project is to be successful. Success means the product being developed and delivered in time and on budget. The differences lie with production processes themselves. Agile allows the scope of delivery to be decided in a series of regular sprints, reviews and adaptations. Testing is concurrent with the development process and progress. Customer collaboration is important.
Waterfall on the other hand is a sequential methodology that tries to capture all foreseeable requirements before work begins. Phases follow each other and must be completed in a linear fashion. Customer collaboration is not needed until the final product is ready to be tested.
In terms of which environment is the best for Agile or Waterfall methodology, as was shown by taking a hypothetical waterfall approach to I’m a Celebrity, it largely depends on the environment and the requirements of the customer.
A light-hearted Agile approach to I’m a Celebrity resulted from audience collaboration and team organisation, but with a Waterfall perspective, the scenario could have been far from light-hearted. That the customer (audience) would not be involved until the final vote, would mean that the onus would be on the contestants themselves. They would have to choose who does what trial and who remains or departs the castle confines. How cruel would that be? As if contestants don’t have enough to put up with!
Become a Winner
As far as recommendations for training for both methodologies is concerned, it’s basically a case of the more the merrier. Whether you choose an Agile or Waterfall environment or a mixture of both, you can become a winner of your project management career. What is more, … you won’t ever have to face a spider, snake or liquid loathsomeness to achieve your goal!