For the last four years we have been tracking the adoption rates for various product development methodologies. Our annual Study of Product Team Performance has documented Agile’s continuous rise (through 2014) and Waterfall’s continuous decline.
However, what often gets overlooked is the dominance of blended methodologies. What do we mean by blended methodologies? The combination of waterfall and an Agile methodology, most frequently Scrum.
In fact, for the last four years, since we began tracking the adoption rate of these various methodologies, blended methods have continued to hold dominance with over 40% of survey respondents indicating that their organizations utilize blended methods. Agile by comparison typically ranks in the mid 20 percentages.
Why do blended methods continue to hold sway? There are lots of reasons. Here are some examples:
- The need for detailed documentation, particularly for highly regulated products. For instance, in the medical device field or drugs. Traditional waterfall methods are better suited to this need.
- Companies that were historically waterfall orientated sometimes struggle to make a clean jump from waterfall to agile. They often pass through blended on their journey. Some don’t succeed in making the complete jump.
- The planning processes of mid-or large-sized organizations often constrain teams and prevent them from becoming agile. For instance, capital requests may happen annually and are not conducive to more nimble agile methods. Therefore, aspects of the product development process are agile but the overall organizational processes remain waterfall.
Our data shows that more organizations desire to be agile even though they are not today. However, blended methods continue to lead the pack. Has your organization made a successful jump to agile or does your organization stride the line and have a foot in both worlds?