AGILE, Planning & Estimating, SCRUM

Agile Vs Traditional Planning – What’s Right for You?

Agile planning vs traditional

Although agile software development is over 20 yeas old, software companies still grapple with the age-old question: Agile or Traditional?

Waterfall approach

The allure of the waterfall (traditional) approach to software development has been strong, but let’s face it, it’s NOT all sunshine and rainbows.

Here’s why:
Misfit with Reality

Waterfall projects thrive in a utopian world where requirements are crystal clear, the domain and technology are as familiar as the back of your hand, and everything unfolds predictably. Spoiler alert: Reality rarely fits this mold.

Assumptions Gone Awry

Waterfall methodology operates on the flawed premise that each stage will yield positive outcomes, blissfully ignoring the chaos theory of software development. Spoiler alert #2: Things change—a lot. Builds break, software misbehaves, integrations go haywire, people call in sick, hardware malfunctions—you name it.

Rigid Requirements

In the traditional realm, requirements are etched in stone from day one, leaving little room for negotiation or evolution. Project Management crafts a detailed plan based on these commandments, assuming a level of knowledge about the product that borders on clairvoyance. The result? Development teams face an uphill battle trying to meet these stringent demands.

Agile approach

Enter Agile, with its manifesto values shouting “Responding to change over following a plan,” and “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.” Agile planning dances to a different beat, focusing less on the rigidity of a plan and more on the fluidity of the planning process.

So, what sets Agile planning apart?

Process Over Obsession

Rather than obsessing over a perfect plan, Agile planning prioritizes the process itself—a dynamic, ever-evolving journey.

Frequent Decision-Making

Agile planning is a dance of frequent decision-making, leveraging empirical inspect-and-adapt mechanisms and incorporating ongoing information into the project’s trajectory.

Multilevel Planning

Agile planning operates on multiple levels—daily, sprint, release, product, portfolio—each with its own granularity and precision. Re-planning is the name of the game, with plans adjusting fluidly to accommodate new insights and changing realities.

Embracing Uncertainty

Agile planning embraces the uncertainty inherent in product development, weaving flexibility into its very fabric. Iterative and incremental development serve as buffers against the unpredictability of the software universe.

Also, let’s not forget about estimation—the compass guiding us through the labyrinth of uncertainty. Agile estimation, with its focus on relative estimation using story points or ideal days, coupled with absolute estimation for tasks, helps teams navigate the murky waters of project planning. Techniques like “Planning poker” facilitate collaborative estimation, unlocking hidden insights and surfacing assumptions.

For software engineers and business stakeholders alike, understanding these concepts is paramount.

If this discussion piques your interest and you’re itching to dive deeper, consider formal education on Agile planning and estimation. After all, in the ever-evolving landscape of software development, knowledge truly is power.