WaterScrumFall – Does it exist?….Should it?

ByRob Peledie

WaterScrumFall – Does it exist?….Should it?

So this is a serious question……and I know it’s going to provoke lots of comments and feedback, and probably a bit of old time flaming. The reason I ask is that, I’m agile through and through. It just works. If you’re managing a development team (and its done well), Agile just works. Everyone knows what they’re doing…. Stakeholders can see progress….. efficiency goes up.


There is s legitimate case when senior management, boards and stakeholders ask the question “How long will it take and how much will it cost?”.  And I’ll caveat that question with the fact that we’re talking about a whole project, not just aspects of it….. so for example a complete end to end build of a Sales Solution or Customer Service, as opposed to a part of that.

In a traditional Waterfall methodology, you would potentially do all the planning, analysis, sizing etc up front for the whole project. In theory you would then know how long it will take to complete, and thus how much. The trouble with waterfall is that you’re front-loading all that work. often, by the time you actually come to develop, technology may have changed or business process has….. then you’re facing a dilemma…. do you develop against the old requirements/methods or change?

On the other side you have Agile or Scrum whereby smaller chunks of work are completed in sprints in an iterative cycle. The challenge there is its harder to predict time and cost some would say.

So then we have this concept of WaterScrumFall (I refuse to call it Wagile!!), whereby you run an agile/scrum methodology within a Waterfall wrapper.

Essentially, planning is done up front at a high level, deciding on the themes or epics, and Architectural roadmap. I would suggest at this level, experience will highlight “is this a 1 month, 3 month or 6 month piece of work?”

You’ll likely know the size and makeup of your team, so resourcing should be easy to calculate.

At some point, some detailed analysis of some of the stories, will feed in to your backlog – and this is almost your step-over point in to Scrum.

The Scrum process carries on in iterations, and sprints are managed in the usual way, with the final delivery effectively giving you the fall.

I think that works, and I have found that traditional organisations who fear Agile will step in to it with a sense of comfort. Once the Agile/Scrum process has been proven to work, velocity and cadence measured, then perhaps the outer wrappers of waterfall can go….

So heres the question…….Is there a legitimate place for WaterScrumFall? Would it work for you?

Drop some comments.

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