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Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

What is the best methodology (Waterfall | Agile | Hybrid) to manage a project nowadays? and why?


A very hot topic that comes in every PM conversation when they meet! We are sure that there is no best way, however, there is a best practice and a lot is depending on the industry, type of projects and many other variables. It's very very interesting to look at different perspectives and approaches on this topic.


Paula Suda💬

Senior Project Manager

The best methodology will strongly depend on the combination of Project goals + Workplace Culture + team knowledge + organizational maturity level. The most important point when choosing a methodology is a way to achieve goals, not the goal itself. Forget about the old battle Waterfall x Agile x Hybrid – focus on change management, communication, simplicity and smart goals.

Simon Robvertson💬

Programme Manager and Agile Coach 

That depends on the purpose of the project. If we are talking new concepts/proof of concepts/software related delivery/websites etc /process development/software integration I find Agile a shoe-in.

However, if you are looking for a methodology to deliver hard products - i.e construction, networks and infrastructure then Waterfall does it fine. That said I have successfully brought some agile thinking into Waterfall projects - stand-ups, Kanban, collaborative decision making, co-located teams and servant-leadership thinking.

If you are looking at Enterprise scale Agile - Portfolio/Programme/project - where there is requirements for traceability and audit trails, as well as more rigorous documentation then a Hybrid approach really works - taking the best of Agile and bringing the governance of waterfall into play. There are two best known models for Enterprise level Hybrid approaches - developed by Dean Leffingwell - SAFe, and, Scott Ambler - Disciplined Agile.

Khaled Irar💬

Managing Director

I would say the best methodology is the Hybrid one. Project management is a not a rigid science, it is flexible enough to cope with the ever changing environment around the project. Fast changes require faster response and project managers should not restrict themselves to one way of managing these endeavors. Clients, sponsors and other stakeholders care only about what the project has to produce within the defined time frame and allocated budget. If the adopted methodology is not effective in achieving those requirements, the project manager should be able to swing between whatever methodologies to reach the final result that pleases key stakeholders if not all. I am not a big fan of “The end justifies the means” in project management; however, it is totally applicable and permissible. In the end, stakeholders look at what you have achieved and not how you achieved it.

Héctor Vega💬

Director de PMO Global 

The best methodology to manage a project is the one that best suits the project. And what I say is "obvious", but unfortunately today it is not usual. Either due to ignorance of Agile, or because we want to apply Agile at all costs, we find projects that are not managed properly, which causes one way or another the failure of it. The answer is to "apply common sense" in the decisions we make and talking about the matter, in the choice of the methodologies that will be used to manage a given project. The Hybrid approach gives us freedom, and forces us to apply common sense, having to analyze the different stages of the project to apply in each one the methodology that best fits. I bet on "common sense", and if Hybrid let you apply it, go for it.

Asad Naveed💬 

Senior Engineer

Although PMI is against such generalizations (as each project being unique, has different preferred methodologies) but considering the emerging trends, Agile and Hybrid are most favored approached. It doesn't mean that Waterfall is outdated or no more to be considered.

Certainly, in large construction projects, Waterfall is still the best one. But considering the vast number of IT and Telecom projects, Agile approach is helps in reducing the risk factor as stakeholder management is handled better. Also, Agile can better handle the changes in the projects, which are the only permanent factor in the projects.

Hybrid approach is even more preferred as it includes the good among both worlds and legacy concepts may be adapted to some extent. But finally, PMI stance is right that each project is unique so it is hard to generalize straight-away that one approach is "always" better than the other ones.

Jocelyne EL Khoury💬

Head of IT PMO - BLF Bank

It is evident that not all projects are the same, and thus not one methodology can replace the others. However, in this new digital era, where customer expectations are evolving fast, and companies looking to new ways to deliver value through better customer experience and improved products features.

In this new digital world, where the customer is at the center of any new initiative, companies are adopting agile methodologies where they can easily experiment with new ideas, build prototypes, and pivot when needed. Agile became vital for any company that is willing to survive the competition or benefit from the digital capabilities to lead the market.

Ross Holmes💬 

Executive Project Consultant PMP | PMI-ACP 

The answer to this question lies in the cultural make up of the receiving organisation and the nature of the project(s) being delivered. There is no 'one size fits all' approach. Where unique cultural and project characteristics are ignored, the application of one methodology over another by project ‘purists’ can cause real issues with delivery, particularly where a methodology is forced upon unaccustomed participants with insufficient time and coaching to adjust (think square peg / round hole). Consider where a software development team operates as ‘Agile’ within an organisation, but the Marketing group who support them or the Finance group who fund them, does not. Or think about how a software development project benefits from Agile because of the fluid nature of the requirements set but how, comparatively, COTS application implementations can benefit from the more rigid structure of a Waterfall delivery due to early fixed requirements and the advantages that come from longer term detailed planning.

Which methodology best suits these scenarios? The answer is that common sense should prevail. Instead of applying a 'one size fits all' methodology, effective Project Leads will tailor a delivery strategy that aligns cultural parameters with the specific needs of each project.


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