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Why do Waterfall Projects Fail?

Hi guys, Anatoly from Define Agile here. I keep on answering your questions. This one is from VJ. He asks, “Why do Waterfall projects fail compared to Agile projects?”

It is a great question. Before I start talking about Agile, I just want to tell you that this is not completely true.

First of all, some companies do Waterfall amazingly. It works for them and they don’t fail. They succeed and sometimes there are projects that Waterfall might be much better suited than doing Agile. For example, If you’re building a bridge, you know exactly how long the bridge is. You have all the requirements up front, Waterfall might be and ideal way to handle that.

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However, where Waterfall fall short is when projects are complex, where there are a lot of unknowns and it’s hard  to get all the requirements up front .

Time have changed significantly in the last 20 years. You can’t spend years gathering requirements anymore – you need to take action and deliver value as soon as possible.

Also, client mindset has changed. Clients want to see progress every week, they want to be part of the process.

Often clients just want you to prototype something and then see where it goes. They might not know what the next iteration will be. Waterfall does not accommodate dealing with change very well. It becomes very costly.

Hope that helps!

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