Agile vs Waterfall : What Approach is Right for My ERP Project ? by Jason Fair

Agile vs Waterfall : What Approach is Right for My ERP Project ? by Jason Fair

Speaker: Jason R. Fair, PMP, CSM, CPA


Genesis Consulting - Glen Allen (VA)

Monday, 7 May - 14.45 - 16.00 - 1 hour, 15 minutes

Summary: Traditional waterfall project approaches have been used for years to implement complex and large-scale ERP projects. Agile projects provide flexibility and collaboration, can increase team productivity and can accelerate the realisation of benefits. Learn how to determine if your next ERP project is a candidate for agile or traditional waterfall. 

Learning objectives

castellan-martin.jpgReport by: 

Martin Castellan, PMP

France Sud Chapter


Agile vs Waterfall : What Approach is Right for My ERP Project ? by Jason Fair


Jason Fair began his presentation with a simple premise - During a waterfall project typically less than 30% of effort is devoted to building the product.  The remaining 70% is spent on peripheral activities, management and administration.

His aim was to demonstrate how Lean principles and Agile techniques could be used to create high-performing ERP teams that will deliver high value, high quality products to stakeholders in a shorter period of time.

ERP projects often have life-changing long-term effects on a business where the end game is not yet visible at the planning stage.  Long waterfall projects are subject to extensive changes as the business evolves and the scope is never really finalised.

It’s for this reason that Agile methods may be more suitable for ERP implementations.

Agile has several basic characteristics:

-       Empiricism – the ability to perform, stop, reflect, improve and continue in a step by step process to improve the product

-       Prioritisation – work is based on value

-       Self-organisation – the team know best how to deliver the work based on resources and constraints

-       Time-boxing – limiting work packages to 30 days maximum as we don’t have crystal balls to imagine the distant future but we can predict the resources needed for short periods

-       Collaboration – team members help each other


Waterfall methods have a fixed development cycle:

-       Feasibility

-       Definition

-       Design

-       Construction

-       Release

They typically have detailed long-term plans with a single time-line and rigid project management and team roles.

Agile development is iterative, organised in a series of cycles “sprints”, each delivering a specific product.  Management overhead is reduced as there is less need to micro-manage team members.  They micro-manage themselves.

The method’s key elements include:

-       Agile team, typically up to 10 people, highly trained, experienced and motivated

-       Project manager or scrum master (as in rugby, a scrum occurs when the team comes together to work on a plan)

-       Product owner

-       Product backlog, the list of products or facilities to be developed

-       Sprint planning and backlog, lists of products currently under development

-       Daily stand-up, a short (perhaps 15 minutes) team meeting to discuss progress and issues

-       Sprint burn-down chart which shows progress to date and the work remaining

-       Sprint demonstrations where finished products are presented

-       Retrospective – the lessons learned

The result is a cross-functional team that is collaborative, adaptable and responsive to customer needs. When used appropriately, for Agile does not suit all projects or organisations, these teams can produce realisable benefits sooner and more cost-effectively.