Five Tips To Make Wagile Work

Everyone likes to be agile right? An adjective which has transcended into the corporate world as we become quicker and more flexible in our work. Agile now seems to be the buzzword around many board room tables.

But when we talk about Agile in business, the reality is that a lot of organisations are not ready to move to a fully Agile environment. They are not quite ready to do away with historical planning, review and control mechanisms. This is especially true when a large investment is made, or where the transformation is business-critical. Often the Waterfall approach gives a level of upfront comfort.

Is there a happy medium between being lithe and providing comfort? Well, one option is to use a Wagile approach – which is where Waterfall and Agile are blended. Wikipedia describes “Wagile” as “software development among a group of software development methodologies that results from slipping from agile back into waterfall, doing a lot of short waterfalls and thinking it is agile; waterfall model masquerading as agile software development, etc.” This is perhaps a cynical definition, is it possible for Agile and Waterfall methodologies to be used together?

Merging two entities doesn’t always lead to a recipe for success… remember Jedward?! Or Guinness Marmite? Is it possible to take the best bits of two ideas and put them together to make something else that works well?

Well, when the balance is right Wagile can provide some of the structure and planning of Waterfall, combined with the more flexible, speedy and iterative approach from Agile. How can you achieve that balance? Here are some tips to help you on your way:

  1. Short Iterations

This is pretty much what it says on the tin. Break your project down in small iterations, detailing what value each iteration brings and the acceptance criteria. This will allow you to deliver, review and move on to the next iteration, bringing rigour but without diluting progress.

  1. User stories

Instead of full requirements documents that detail every item on the wishlist, capture what you want the new solution to do through user stories, or use cases. This way the development is streamlined, focused on the end customer, and issues can be quickly unblocked.

  1. Daily Stand up Meetings

We would recommend this for any project regardless of the shape, size or complexity. It promotes team work and focus, so teams know their responsibility and have clarity on  what there is to do. This is often a good forum to triage any issues and reprioritise activities. Short sharp and effective, minimising the need for daily reports and paperwork.

  1. Role of the Project Manager

In a Wagile environment, Project Managers (PM) or Scrum Masters should shift their focus on unblocking issues and ensuring progress. The PMs should empower team members to be ‘self-organising teams’ and do not need to be involved in detailed task management. The daily stand-ups are a good forum to track progress.

  1. Engage the End Customer

Get end customers engaged at a much earlier stage and get them to review and feedback. This creates a sense of ownership and acceptance of continuous improvement. The minimal viable product will meet their basic needs and they can then be involved to help shape and prioritise future iterations.

By taking these tips on board, you may find it beneficial to blend an Agile and Waterfall approach. Remember there have been some successful outcomes when the best of both have been put together, think of the labradoodle, vlogs or fusion cooking. Maybe using Wagile will be the perfect blend you’ve been looking for.

For more information about project management methodologies and which is the best for your business, please contact Esther McMorris


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