When organizations as me what approach they should use for their project, I always start with an opening question:
What is your end-goal?
Depending on the answer, I will recommend an approach that falls into one of two camps: Waterfall and Agile/Lean. Let’s take a detour to the kitchen …
Waterfall, like baking chocolate chip cookies, is a process which requires specific components. If you have ever baked cookies, you know, a little deviation can drastically change the recipe. Too much flour can make puffy-like cookies, melted butter can cause it to look a bit wrinkled and brown sugar vs. granulated sugar is practically a different cookie.
Waterfall works a lot in the same way. On certain projects, like a rip-and-replace initiative, you don’t have much room for adaption in the process. You need to follow a rigid plan because you know exactly what you need ahead of time, or simply due to processes created by government, legal and general construction needs. Any deviation is considered a defect.
Whereas, Agile process is more fluid, with room to adapt and innovate. Agile, is more like lasagna. One round, you may make it with beef, sometimes with beef and sausage, other times you would rather make it with chicken. You can make it with white sauce or red sauce, and at the end of the day – it’s still a lasagna.
Agile works like this and is great for projects in which you don’t know your specific end-result up-front. You can adapt the requirements as you go, making it work for your product, rather than conforming to processes.
It makes room for adaptation and has small time boxes of production to allow you to complete your task, then instpect and adapt if need-be without major risk. Did one path work very well? Note it for future work, and witness how others tweak it over time.
Nevertheless, the Agile process may not be usable for all projects. For any that work well with adaptation, it is highly recommended.
Ready to get cooking?
For some additional guidance (and more serious!) check out the following resources: