Waterfall vs. Agile Project Management: Choosing the Right Approach 

The benefits of effective project management are widely-known: excellent results, delivered on time and within budget. However, suboptimal project management can lead to costly delays and budget overruns. While the line between success and failure depends on many factors, the selection of a suitable project management approach is among the most important. This post compares classic and agile project management and examines the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the two.

Anyone who has ever worked in a project — as a project manager or in the wider project team — will tell you that completing on time, in budget and within scope is far easier said than done. A multitude of external or systemic factors can hinder a project’s progress, and the result of these events on the project’s success can be hugely significant. Choosing the right project management methodology is a key part of ensuring that your project runs smoothly.

In this post, we look at a question that is dominating the project management debate: Is agile the solution to creating faster projects with better results, or just another project management buzzword? To find out, we aim to answer the following questions: 

Why are methodologies important? What is classic project management? What is agile project management? How can I decide which methodology to implement? Why are Methodologies Important?

The project management methodology you choose connects a wider business strategy to the people who turn its ideas into realities, providing the framework necessary to make things happen.

For this reason, choosing the most suitable methodology requires a clear understanding on both sides of the business about the needs of a company, which is essential to achieving positive outcomes through focused project work. It is important for business leaders to have a solid grasp of development processes, while it is equally necessary for non-customer-facing teams to understand the requirements of corporate stakeholders and know what they need to do to meet them. 

Selecting an appropriate project management strategy, twinned with effective communication at all levels of the organization, can help companies achieve their goals. The choice between classic and agile methodologies defines the way in which project managers approach their projects, which in turn has a significant impact on results. It is thus important to understand the strengths and drawbacks of each approach to ensure that the approach you choose helps you execute your project efficiently.

About Classic Project Management 

Classic project management is a relatively simple philosophy: define what needs to be done, then do it. The process of deciding on a project’s to-dos depends on the three factors: time, cost and scope, the corners of the so-called project management triangle.  

The balance of these three factors will greatly influence how the project’s deliverables finally look. During the project initiation stage (see below), a consensus on the correct balance should be established, then finalized in the planning stage.

Classic project management requires the exact requirements and specifications of the finished product to be documented from an early stage. On the positive side, this makes it crystal clear to everyone in the project team what is expected and serves as a guideline at each development phase. On the other hand, specification writing is a hugely time-consuming process that may affect the project timeline: the specification itself has

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