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traditional technology development methodologies

Waterfall Project Planning


The way things were done for several decades. It was first defined as “waterfall” by Dr. Winston Royce in a 1970 paper on inefficiencies in large software development projects, but was in use long before that.


Waterfall planning relies on a sequence of steps, and never moving forward until all work in the previous phase has been completed.


The consultancy and the client enter into a contract

The project and design requirements are discussed, agreed on and locked in by both parties

The consultancy works on the project deliverables

The client reviews the results and the contract is closed


  • clear structure, more efficient for small projects

  • intuitive progression

  • design goals clearly stated

  • timeline and milestones clearly stated

  • budget allows business planning

The client reviews the results and closes the contract


  • rigidity: doesn’t acknowledge ongoing learning or unforeseen challenges

  • end user and client feedback happens too late in process

  • delays testing until after all design work is done, when changes are expensive

  • almost never ends up happening as planned, budgets go over

Agile Scrum


Came about as a response to waterfall to develop new products faster and more efficiently. This framework was officially first introduced to the public in 1995 by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, but by the authors admission, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t been done before.


A design moves from concept to completion through team led cycles of “build-measure-learn”

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  • faster and more adaptive than a 'waterfall' plan, especially for software

  • improvement and refinement through testing and learning

  • verification and de-risking eliminates design unknowns


  • project scope creep: loses sight of client project budget and timeline goals

  • design feature creep: encourages a ground up ‘build-measure-learn’ approach

  • loses sight of end user needs and functional requirements

Attempts have been made to create a hybrid of waterfall and agile, often coined wagile, to try and leverage the advantages, while magically avoiding the shortcomings of both, to varying degrees of success.

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