The Agile vs. The World mentality of some software project managers is, in itself, inherently anti-Agile. If Agile is the method of adapting and changing as plans are altered, then sticking with a set of rules because “that’s just how it’s done” limits a team’s flexibility. With this in mind, many Agile project managers have started looking into how their management techniques can include elements of Waterfall (sometimes called Scrummerfall or WaterScrum), PERT/CPM and Gantt charts.
Merging Agile and Waterfall Techniques
Possibly the most important thing to remember when merging Agile with any technique is that it is not going to be simple. While Agile teams like to roll with the punches, the first compromise is some front-end planning. However, if roles are well defined, team members do their homework, and everyone understands that a mixed-method approach is best for the project, then managers can begin merging methodologies.
The merge itself requires normalized metrics (what are we working on? What is the status of X? And what needs to be done?), promptly issued change orders, an explicit closure of discovery, and an agreed upon way to measure success.
Merging Agile and PERT Methods
The Program evaluation and review technique has been around for decades and seems an unlikely partner for Agile projects. However, in the planning stages, they can actually go hand-in-hand.
When project requirements are ambiguous, or the scope is unclear, what qualifies as the end of a task, or even a sprint, can be difficult to agree upon. When analyzed with PERT, however, these tasks and sprints are forced to be well-defined for time and clarity.
In an example performed by Sriramasundararajan Rajagopalan, teams provided story point estimates that had a large disparity. Therefore, “instead of just explaining the story, the product owner listed the smallest, the largest, and the story point that was most likely based on the mean closest to the Fibonacci sequence.” This provided clarity on the estimates and was repeated until the velocity and risk of each sprint was fully understood.
Using Agile and Gantt Charts
Scrums and meetings are critical to a strong Agile based project, and the results of those meetings can be organized with a Gantt chart. This is proven with Bella Woo’s “Lakes and Rivers” approach, where she would hold daily standups, planning, and review meetings, then reorganize her Gantt chart, moving features to later iterations as needed. With this in mind, Gantt charts are able to organize sprint timelines and velocity as well.
From a team member’s perspective, the use of Gantt charts also provides clarity for their individual tasks. When charts are broken down to a granular level, each member is able to see what is expected of them in not only the current iteration, but in the iterations to come. If anything seems unreasonable to them or they feel it will not be completed during the iteration, they will be able to speak with the project manager and migrate the task(s), keeping their work and the other team members up to date.
Have a method that would work with Agile, or software that could help combine methodologies into one interface? Need assistance integrating mixed-method techniques with your software development or DevOps teams? Contact Ciklum! We’d be happy to help you organize your project and assist with management in any way we can!