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Hybrid ( Waterfall/ Agile), is it a solution or hidden problem?(Jonathan)

Hybrid Model: Agile + Waterfall ?

This is another entry in a series of posts that covers different aspects relating to Scrum, being a Scrum Master, and everything Agile. These are the notes that I have taken during my journey and self-growth to understanding different perspectives and approaches in the Agile community.

With Agile potentially establishing itself as possibly one the most effective set of management practices that allow organizations to be more responsive, flexible, and engaged, it may not be a fit for every project or every team. As a Scrum Master, I have led several teams through the adoption of Agile practices and this has not always been easy or has worked. The teams that are working on projects that require higher levels of governance and compliance, or those teams working on legacy systems tend to want a more traditional Waterfall methodology, which can help maintain a required structure, consistency, and predictability that the team has come to known, where as a more Agile methodology could cause more issues for the team.

Key factors - Agile Methodology

  • Quick decision making.
  • Involvement of the entire team.
  • Good communication with the customer.
  • Feedback from the customer.
  • Support by management.

Key factors - Waterfall Methodology

  • Fixed scope and known requirements
  • Ease of use and manageability
  • High level of discipline
  • Comprehensive documentation

Hybrid Project Management?

I believe the discussion around implementing a hybrid methodology has the lure of enabling teams to embrace the clarity and tracking system of a Waterfall method, while embracing the adaptability and flexibility of Agile methods.

“There is not one methodology to rule them all.”

As mentioned above, I have seen where an Agile methodology has not always worked, so the idea of adopting a hybrid approach does not come as a complete surprise to me. This approach can be used to break down projects into manageable components by discipline or function.

Use Cases: Hybrid Approach

Here are a few scenarios that could favor this Agile-Waterfall hybrid approach.

  1. The product consists of hardware and software components
  2. The product is a piece of software which has back-end and front-end technology
  3. The project that need to address and deliver the constantly changing requirements within a limited period of time

I have also seen where the customer/product is not fully behind using an Agile methodology as the budget and time-frame can not be guaranteed due to the lack of a detailed and defined plan or fix in advance. Perhaps this is another case in which a hybrid model could be a good solution?


As a Scrum Master I have seen the increase of popularity with teams adapting Agile methods, however this does not mean that the more traditional Waterfall methodology can not work. I will always push for an Agile way of working, but I can not be naive in thinking that every project is best suited to be executed using Agile methods. I believe that organizations need to be innovative when choosing the appropriate execution method per project.

With both Agile and Waterfall having respective advantages and disadvantages, a hybrid approach could potentially be a solution. The key would be finding a balance between each methodology and tailoring the management style to each specific project.

Exclusive 💬

Jonathan Ray

About author

Agile Enthusiast | Certified Scrum Master | Agile Coach

As a SAFe Advanced Certified Scrum Master (SASM), he has successfully (and concurrently) coached and led multiple teams under SAFe. He is a firm believer in agile methodologies as the means to build happy and effective teams, delivering business value early, and supporting people and organizations to improve their work flow. He has helped in leading Agile transformations and worked in Agile environments with a focus on achieving an Agile culture that supports: trust and growth, transparency, and systems thinking.
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