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InfoQ Homepage News Have the Pragmatists Won? Water-Scrum-Fall Is the Norm

Have the Pragmatists Won? Water-Scrum-Fall Is the Norm

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 Water-Scrum-Fall is the norm according to Dave West, Director of Research and Vice President at Forrester. Dave wrote about Forrester's analysis in a recent SD Times article. According to Forrester: 

Organizations are increasingly adopting agile software development methodologies through a combination of bottom-up adoption and top-down change. However, the reality of agile adoption has diverged from the original ideas described in the Agile Manifesto, with many adoptions resembling what Forrester labels water-Scrum-fall. 

Forrester believes this happens because agile adoption is frequently practitioner led, and consequently the practitioner focuses on the domain they are most familiar with. In most cases this means: software development. Areas such as release management, or project planning are still handled with traditional methods.

The article goes on to elucidate the Water-Scrum-Fall monicker: 

Water – Defines the upfront project planning process that typically happens between IT and the business.

Scrum – An iterative and adaptive approach to achieving the overall plan that was first laid out in the 'Water' stage.

Fall – A controlled, infrequent production release cycle that is governed by organizational policy and infrastructure limitations.


The article also gives tips to development teams facing the Water-Scrum-Fall reality and trying to increase agility. Among them: 

  • A proper Scrum team must comprise all the people necessary to deliver working software. Typically, this means developers, testers and business analysts working toward a common goal. 
  • Application development professionals should challenge the status quo of infrequent releases and push to better integrate release processes into the development team.  
  • Spending too much time upfront will not increase the quality of the release; on the contrary, it is wasteful.  
  • Documents are a poor proxy for working software, and thus any documents created should be just enough to introduce the problem area and allow high-level planning and development work to commence.

But reading this brought to mind a blog post from June 2011 by Mike Dwyer of Big Visible.  In that post Mike makes the assertion that Scrum can be divided into three big camps: the purists, the posers, and the pragmatists.  

Are Water-Scrum-Fall development teams being posers until they become pursists or is Water-Scrum-Fall the very essence of being pragmatic?  Let's hear from our readers.  What do you think?


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