March 21, 2017
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Agile Vs. Waterfall. Again? Now in Numbers

Agile Vs. Waterfall. Again? Now in Numbers

Agile’s been around for a long time — 16 years to be exact — and has racked too many successes to count. But teams still wonder how they can make it work. Some teams still rely on Waterfall — a geezer compared to Agile, originally designed way back in 1970.

There’s no absolutely right or absolutely wrong method when it comes to Agile and Waterfall, and it’s not always easy to know which method will work best for your team. When in doubt, though, look to the numbers. Here, we’ll talk about when Agile is more effective than Waterfall, and when they’re equally matched.


Common Usage: Agile Leads and Continues to Be Adopted

Agile is more commonly used than Waterfall or other frameworks. TechBeacon interviewed 601 software developers and IT professionals about their usage of Agile vs. Waterfall.

Here are the results:


usage of Agile vs. Waterfall

Project Size: When Agile Proves Its Effectiveness

Using the Standish Group’s Chaos Reports, our Process Consultant and Program Manager Evgeniy Labunskiy poured over the records of Agile’s effectiveness — in contrast to Waterfall — since Agile’s introduction in 2001.
Agile proves its effectiveness when it comes to project size dependency.

Agile Projects

However, Agile and Waterfall are nearly equal in terms of success on small projects that call for repeatable procedures.

Bottom line: the bigger the project, the greater the value of Agile over Waterfall.


Evgeniy Labunskiy
“The more complex solution you are trying to build, the more Agile is relevant for your needs,” Evgeniy Labunskiy says.



Knowable and Complex: Use Agile

Dave Snowden’s Theory of Complexity (Cynefin framework) divides projects into five quadrants: complex and chaotic versus knowable, known, and unknown. A known project, that is repeatable and requires rule-following, might be managed under the Waterfall model. If you have a chaotic project, though — or a project that isn’t repeatable — you might find your best bet is inventing something entirely new.

Knowable projects are repeatable, with a focus on best practices, while complex projects use guidelines that are partially repeatable.



“Flexibility is [a key factor] in your project’s overall success,” Evgeniy Labunskiy says


Is Agile for You?

Despite the benefits that a flexible Agile approach can provide, many teams have difficulties implementing unconventional time frameworks. But once in place, Agile can provide much more consistent wins than Waterfall. If you need advice about implementing Agile, Ciklum’s Project & Project Management Consulting Team can help you flexibly plan and track your projects. Do not hesitate to contact us if you’re ready to switch from Waterfall to Agile once and for all.