“We used waterfall to put a man on the moon, so it can’t be that bad,” said Aldila Lobo, Principal with Deloitte Consulting. This line certainly got a laugh from the crowd at NASPO’s Exchange conference in New York City – but it holds a fair amount of truth as well. “Waterfall” is the non-modular procurement methodology that originated in the construction and manufacturing arenas and became popular as a method for software development and procurement. The process of development literally flows from one stage to the next. Agile, on the other hand, focuses on flexibility, continuous improvement, an embrace of change, speed, and satisfied customers. Agile comes not in stages that build on one another, but in sprints, where pieces of the larger puzzle are developed one at a time.
While Agile development and procurement methods have taken hold as an elegant solution to decades-old problems, the simple truth is what Aldila alluded to – that sometimes, for some types of procurements, waterfall is still best. However, Agile and other modular procurement methods do two things that make it easier to manage large developments: they segment risk and increase transparency. While Agile and modular procurement aren’t just for information technology procurement and software development, those are the most popular applications.
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