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Agile vs Waterfall in Government Contacts

Agile Waterfall

Agile vs Waterfall for Innovation in Government Contacts

Scrum-Fall Hybrid Scrum and Waterfall

Scrum-Fall is a hybrid system development methodology that combines the best of the Agile Scrum methodology with the best practices of the Waterfall methodology. When we consider government IT projects, we have to introduce a new and improved development methodology that is capable of successfully tackling the challenges presented by them.

Waterfall with innovations?

The Waterfall methodology possesses some significant drawbacks due to the complex and ever-changing parameters of modern software development. For example, the Waterfall methodology limits the design of the final product entirely to the initial stages of the project. It does not offer any flexibility thereafter. Thus, it builds upon various assumptions about user requirements that eventually turn out to be wrong.

The Waterfall method does not mix well with projects that have a high level of uncertainty and requirements that can evolve during the project. These limitations are another reason why the Waterfall method does not work well for projects where innovation is crucial.

The rigidity of the Waterfall methodology and the linear progression of its stages once brought stability and control to software development. However, this rigidity has not allowed for the flexibility expected with the paradigm shift toward applications that evolve constantly.

Agile for effective development?

The Agile philosophy for managing the software development life cycle is a trending topic with well-specified criteria that fulfills both client and the organizational needs while producing an application that satisfies client needs in a more comprehensive manner. It utilizes the skills and capabilities of development teams to the utmost and is a flexible philosophy that can cater to different types of projects.

How does Agile work

Popular Agile software development methodologies such as Scrum offer a lot of flexibility. However, it is still difficult to match the rigid budgets and evolving requirements of government projects.

The Agile manifesto is built on four basic sets of values that are used extensively in the software development industry. These values make a common platform for all parties to collaborate with each other.

Organizations can use Agile methodologies to accommodate teams that interact with each other, innovate, encourage customer collaboration, and respond to change. These values of the Agile philosophy call for a certain degree of ignorance towards processes, contract negotiation, comprehensive documentation, and follow up plans.

This is where the problems start for government agencies. Contractors adhere to pre-planned budgets and policies, but also be flexible enough to accommodate dynamic requirements.

The effects of budgets on Agile

Budgeting is an essential part of many organizations, especially bureaucratic ones like government agencies. Budgets can curtail additional expenses and provide a good baseline to monitor and control projects. Agile methodologies such as Scrum require a more open-minded approach towards budgeting and requirement eliciting, so government projects may require a considerable change of methodology to better satisfy user needs.

These mismatches tend to discourage government agencies and their contractors from adopting Agile methodologies. So a lot of trial and error and thought was put in to come up with a hybrid methodology that suits these particular needs. The values required to function efficiently within a government agency have been given due consideration so that they are utilized in the best way possible.

Essential and effective values for the government contracts

Hybrids usually incorporate the positive aspects of both components to arrive at a better and more flexible solution. This is not impossible with the Waterfall and Agile methodologies. However, it is essential that these teams follow three basic principles.

Firstly, the organization should identify the business requirement and their pain points and have a clear vision of what is expected from the project. Secondly, all business leaders must agree to a common approach to applying business methods and technology. Lastly, the final outputs of the project should evolve, along with changes to the business process and technological innovations.

To enforce these three principles, a new set of values can be introduced to government organizations.

Efficiency is a vital part of any project. It is even more important for Agile projects, given the amount of change they are required to absorb. High levels of efficiency can be achieved by employing a team of experienced engineers for project work. It is also essential that teams are knowledgeable in the Agile methodology and Scrum principles.

Another issue that plagues many Agile Scrum projects is the elicitation of requirements and changes during the final phases. These disrupt the scope, duration, and, in turn, the budget by requiring teams to deliver quality code more frequently and introducing more work in terms of development, quality assurance, and documentation.

Managing Agile projects becomes even more complicated due to rigid contracts that do not plan for changes or allow flexibility for costing. Dynamic costing methods such as hourly billing and a good change management structure that allows for additional costing for evolving requirement changes can prove more beneficial for these projects.

Last, but most certainly not least is the adoption of a flexible project plan. Given the iterative and dynamic nature of Agile and Scrum methodologies, project plans mustn’t restrict teams by enforcing rigid timelines or scope. Adopting a more Agile friendly approach such as backlogs and a suitable schedule for releases will allow contractors to perform more efficiently.

Using these values, which have been established through existing methodologies, we can form an innovative and dynamic approach to managing the software development lifecycle specially designed for government organizations. This approach is already prevalent in government projects in the United States. Some of the forerunning organizations are the FBI case management system, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and California Child Welfare Services.

The impact of this new approach on innovation

Using a hybrid approach for software development in government agencies opens up many new possibilities. However, it also requires a considerable transformation of the thought process and expectations of both parties.

Government agencies will need to migrate from a contract-based approach to a more flexible project-based approach to allow for flexibility in costing and requirement analysis. This change will give agencies more control over their government contracts.

There will also be a shift in monitoring and controlling as the importance given to contract management has to be now focused on performance management. Both the government agencies and their contractors will have to pay more attention to how well the work is being done in relation to evolving requirements, in contrast to rigidly monitoring contracts.

Conclusion

Agile methodologies like Scrum can bring more efficiency and meaning to government projects, which are otherwise managed with rigidity and according to many policies and regulations.

While Agile methods can benefit these projects, it is crucial to arrive at a balance between the benefits offered by familiar and more traditional methodologies like Waterfall and the dynamic nature of Agile. This is where the Scrum-Fall Hybrid methodology can yield the most benefits to gaining innovation.