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24 May 2019 5 min read

Why ‘Wagile’ shouldn’t be a dirty word for project managers

Sarah Killen

Sarah Killen
Manager | Financial services | London

Scott Henley

Scott Henley
Senior Manager | Financial services | London

The term ‘wagile’ is commonly used, but rarely taken seriously. The poor reputation typically results from its prevalent use in scenarios where programmes have failed to correctly implement Agile. However, this Waterfall–Agile combination can actually drive significant value and in many cases, may be the key to identifying the optimum change delivery model for your programme or organisation.

There are many examples where attempts to introduce pure Agile, haven’t delivered what was promised, and have ultimately left the organisation in a state of paralysis. Particularly in established organisations, it can be risky, prohibited by legacy systems, long deployment schedules and strong cultural resistance to change.

In these scenarios, we’ve seen great success in taking firms on an incremental journey to alter their delivery methodology over time. This allows firms to gain wide-spread support from their employees, experience benefits earlier, and finish with a bespoke model that provides maximum efficiency.

Key success factors for a programme or organisation wanting to take a hybrid approach:

  1. Break it down: carve your scope into bite-sized chunks, which can be completed one at a time (and in parallel if needed), and sized individually  
  2. Prioritise: manage these chunks in a prioritised backlog, so you’re always focusing effort on the highest priority items
  3. Cut it out: challenge yourself on all existing processes and documents, and cut down steps and content to only what is required by the teams who will pick up the deliverables. Don’t fall into the ‘but that’s the way we’ve always done it’ trap! The key is quality over quantity
  4. Collaborate: remove the need for meetings by co-locating. Daily stand ups, weekly reviews of progress, and on the spot discussions save huge amounts of time previously spent waiting or reworking. High levels of collaboration also makes for more engaged and happy teams!
  5. Empower: remove the dependency on traditional governance forums by empowering people to approve deliverables and decisions during the sprint. Consolidated views can then be played back when forums are held, if required
  6. Celebrate success: Be open to failure and celebrate success as a team, no matter how small
  7. Embed a culture of continuous improvement: this is key for reaching optimum efficiency. Set up forums where everyone on the programme is encouraged to continually challenge and identify improvements that can be made. The closer you get to your optimum the harder this will become, but regular retrospectives and open discussions will always find points of improvement.

All this comes down to three simple questions: how can we cut waste, drive higher quality and create a motivating working environment? All three will have a direct (and significant!) impact that will allow you to deliver change faster, with a happy team.

Don’t feel the need to implement changes because it’s written in a text book, work out what is right for your programme or organisation, and create your own version of an efficient delivery model.