Although the Agile Methodology has been around for more than ten years, Scrum is still relatively new to most people in the project management field – although it is gaining ground. Scrum is the leading agile development methodology, used by Fortune 500 companies around the world. Not only does it change the mechanics of traditional project management (i.e. waterfall), it’s also a philosophical change for the team that uses it. This article will not go into details on how scrum works, but how the benefits of Scrum fix waterfall shortcomings.
The methodology that has dominated software development projects for decades is called “waterfall.” Winston Royce coined the term in his 1970 IEEE paper “Managing the Development of Large Software Systems” to describe a serial method for managing software projects through the development stages (Requirements, Analysis, Design, Code, Test). However, Royce himself acknowledges the issues with this process: “I believe in this concept, but the implementation described above is risky and invites failure.” He goes on to actually promote iterative development but that seems to have been ignored (or a less understood concept).
After 40+ years, why doesn’t waterfall work? The articles and statistics are endless…
Studies have shown that in over 75% of the investigated and failed software projects, the usage of the Waterfall methodology was one of the key factors of failure.
A study by McKinsey & Company in conjunction with the University of Oxford of 5,400 IT projects found 17 percent of the large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.
A more recent study by Innotas reports that 50 percent of companies had an IT project fail in the last 12 months.