Implementing Waterfall Agile

Agile software practices can be implemented with discipline in majority of projects. In many organizations, the project approval and management remains in Waterfall mode. So, how should you approach to be Agile within the Waterfall culture?

Agile within Waterfall

As mention in my previous article, it is a challenge to apply Agile within a Waterfall organisation. As opposed with many bias, Agile is a very practical and disciplined practice. Implementation of Agile will first require a mindset change for the team. However, some teammates are so entrenched to Waterfall approach that Agile becomes a drastic change. Similarly, organisations are resistant if you choose to declare the usage of Agile in your project management. So, a neat approach is the ubiquitous introduction of Agile using its techniques. Two such methods are timeboxing and product backlog.


Timeboxing is a technique to complete the assigned tasks within a fixed time. It is used in Scrum as daily meeting and sprints. Waterfall have a longer time horizon, fixed milestone and timeline. There are similarities of timebox and Waterfall. You can easily apply timeboxing in your development team to score quick wins from Agile. Over time, you will learn how to timebox and coexist within Waterfall plan.

Product Backlog

Product backlog is an artifact of Scrum that can be utilised for Waterfall. It is very similar to feature list, requirements, issues or parking lots. Unlike Waterfall, Agile consolidates anything required by the product into a single backlog. Priority and business value are set as well so that business and IT have a single view of the product backlog.

Be Realistic

You must be mindful to be realistic in your Agile expectations. Go for baby steps if your organization is traditionally Waterfall. Telling your management that there will be no project manager due to Scrum would scare the “hell” out of them. Be bold to apply and fuse components of Agile within the Waterfall cycle. Like Agile, you need to keep iterating to arrive at your definition of “done”. You need self reflect and benchmark your success of implementing Agile. In time, you will reap the benefits as more Agile components replaces Waterfall. Lastly, be resilient and do not give up as Agile is here to stay.


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