How to Move From Waterfall to Agile Software Development – 5 Helpful Tips

While the waterfall method for software development may work for straight forward, simple web projects, it tends to be less helpful when managing more complex web projects. This top-down approach to development requires projects to move timely and efficiently, yet many projects fail when adhering to a rigid structure. For a more a complex project filled with more uncertainty, the agile method tends to work best.

Agile software development goes with the flow of the project, allowing for collaboration and problem solving throughout the entire process. While the waterfall method begins with a series of phases and finishes with testing, the agile methodology to software development incorporates testing throughout the project. This on-going testing functions to fix mistakes and issues that arise during the project, often leading to a higher quality final product.

Because agile is quite distinct in its format and differs significantly from waterfall, it might seem overwhelming to make a change to this new style of software development. However, by first understanding the differences between the approaches, and following these simple steps, transitioning to agile just got a whole lot easier.

Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile – Five Helpful Tips to Make the Change Easier

  1. Embrace the Change: Like it has been mentioned previously, waterfall is different from agile. This is nothing to fear, but rather something to welcome openly. This method has several benefits that tend to increase productivity and collaboration among team members. It is the scrum master’s job to get the team on board, and this can be done by earning the group’s trust and loyalty. Share some success stories with the team and emphasize how this transition is a group effort.
  2. Training for the Transition: This software development shift will not come without training or preparation. When making the move from waterfall to agile, it’s important to do so in an organized manner. Make sure all team members are aware of the agile principles and practices associated with this methodology. Understanding the basics of this approach will only encourage the team to work successfully. It may be beneficial for more than one member of your team to receive professional scrum training.
  3. Communicate Efficiently: Communication is a central part of the agile development process. Meetings and planning sessions are employed daily to keep team members up-to-date and on schedule. Not only does this process rely on verbal communication, but written communication as well. For those wary of long and unproductive meetings, keep in mind that the scrum approach is efficient and effective. Communication is used as a tool to increase product quality and project velocity.
  4. Quit the Old Method: It may be difficult to completely drop a familiar method of software development, but at some point, this is necessary when moving towards a new approach. Agile is completely different from waterfall. Embracing agile techniques, like user stories, scrum management and sprints, for example, is a “must” to fully utilize all benefits of this new format.
  5. Create the Right Environment: Agile works best with a timely, collaborative approach. Establishing a physical environment suitable for open and on-going communication and creativity will leave your team successful. Design a space where team members can communicate comfortably and handle any issues that may arise. If you work with offsite or offshore team members, leverage the latest technologies to maximize productive communication and collaboration.

As you likely already know, the agile method to software development is uniquely different from the waterfall methodology. If you are making the shift to agile, embrace the change and have your team work together to do the same. The transition to agile may take some time, but with determination and effort, you can make the change, and even have some fun doing it.

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