What are the main differences in using Agile and Waterfall, the two most notable methods for improving work efficiency and project management?
Agile method is a way to improve how you work with your clients by helping you to speed up results and boost client satisfaction. Agile project management is a system influenced by other processes management ideas like Lean techniques, Kaizen and Six Sigma. Read on to find out how Agile is suitable for your web design business.
It’s easy to get stuck in your ways without realizing it. You become used to a certain way of doing things, to the point where you no longer consciously have to think about the processes you use every day. Your company may have adopted waterfall project management years ago, long before you ever came to work there, and much like that vending machine that keeps eating your money, it’s just become part of the office furniture. Nobody questions it, but perhaps it’s time you did.
Agile vs Waterfall
Most designers follow the waterfall model in which tasks are completed in sequential order. This seems like it makes logical sense. You don’t run before you walk after all. In the world of business, however, trying to progress a project forward by following a linear A to B route doesn’t always work. The reason for this is because your clients aren’t using your waterfall method. They can call you up during any part of your carefully planned sequential process and ask you to make changes. The waterfall method doesn’t easily allow for adjustments to be incorporated. So you end up having to go back over already completed work and either remake it or completely redesign it.
The waterfall method doesn’t easily allow for adjustments to be incorporated. So you end up having to go back over already completed work and either remake it or completely redesign it. This, of course, is going to cost you extra time and cut into your bottom line, which isn’t great.
Agile project management was designed to solve the problems of the waterfall method by focusing on continuous improvement, scope, flexibility, team input and delivering quality products.
The agile model expects and embraces change. Teams working with the agile method aim to complete software in smaller increments and deliver in weeks rather than months. This smaller time frame means that changes to a site can be more easily incorporated. Each section is then reviewed and tested as you go along rather than towards the end of the project. This method enables you to make sure that each section is in line with the wider project’s priorities and goals.
Agile does as its name suggests. It enables project management to be much agiler and fluid. It’s a different mindset. Waterfall is essentially like plotting a course, sailing off and then never deviating from your objective no matter what nature throws at you. Whereas agile allows you to see the storm coming, take shelter, restock and re-plot your course, before sailing off again.
Speed up your project turn-around time
The boat metaphor might be simplistic, but it illustrates an important point, which is, why is risk wrecking your boat when you don’t need to? As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to get caught up in a particular mindset, only seeing the world one way. Agile requires a shift in perspective, but it helps you to steer around oncoming storms rather than sailing straight into them.
Waterfall means settling in for the long haul, whereas agile encourages you to stay on your toes so that you’re able to easily accommodate change and begin coding sooner. Incorporating change more quickly will enable you to complete your project in a shorter time frame, because you don’t have to redo large chunks of work. Working in smaller increments also means there’s less chance of encountering big problems and delays that are going to cost time and money. Fewer delays, mean happier clients. For more in-depth information on agile, Mindtools has a great breakdown of the agile method versus traditional project management.
Help your clients to develop
Because the agile method allows you to launch a website much more quickly, you can start collecting data sooner. The more data you have, the better informed your decisions will be. If you spot particular trends in the data, then you’ll be able to focus more time and efforts into developing those areas. If you’re using a Growth Driven Design website, then this data will be ploughed right back into the continuous improvements this system of design encourages.
Growth Driven Design is a much more swiftly designed and lower costing website that can be live within a month. This site gathers data about how your customers interact with your site. The data harvested allows for continuous improvements to be made, rather than a ‘set up and leave’ traditional style of website design.
The agile method is very similar to Growth Driven Design. It is about planning to make continual improvements based on site data so that you’re getting better results that directly relate to your client’s business objectives.
Agile project management is also a much better system for your own web design business, as it means you’re no longer reliant on one of the projects, but rather you have many clients you’re working within incremental steps on a long-term basis
Agile encourages businesses to think more in terms of continual and gradual improvements, rather than a massive outline investment and then the fingers-crossed, wait and see the approach of more traditional styles of project management. Agile requires the adoption of a different mindset, but its approach is designed to not only accept that clients change their minds but actually expects and welcomes those changes into the process.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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