We have long taken the position that a discussion of scrum and conventional project methods should not be combative or mutually exclusive. Both of these approaches have something to offer. Each has strengths that when mapped to your organization and situation, can improve your chances of a successful project delivery. It is even possible to merge agile into a conventionally conducted or stage gate project.
Consider a stage gate project that consists of:
- product development hardware
- product development software
- aftermarket and service
- systems integration
- verification and test
The sequence of events or gate phases looks like:
Looking at the distribution of talent (some call this human resources) we may find a group of our project participants co-located, this provides is with a clue, perhaps some part of the project work can use agile techniques.
In the stage-gate approach, we often know what the anticipated end results for the gate. We know this at the beginning (in as much as we can). Our conventional project will set about planning for this end goal or objective of the phase. At the end of the phase (marked in red) are the gate reviews. That is the comparison of what we were trying to achieve to what we have actually managed to accomplish, and provide a review of whether to proceed with the project or not.
If we have portions of this stage gate project that are contiguous, for example the writing of the code, or the verification of the product, we can consider managing these activities or subprojects from the main project via agile. So, inside the Concept phase, that final objective will look like a product backlog. From that product backlog, the team will decompose into sprint backlog items and proceed to execute.
Each sprint the team learns more about the product how the work needs to be performed. At the end of the sprint, we have the demonstration. In the concept phase, this demonstration can be via models or simulation or mock up.
Combining the two approaches works well in larger organizations. The stage gate type of actions can adequately address the disperse communication demands fairly well, connecting many diverse business functions that may be associated with the functional organization.
For more information on how or ideas call or contact Value Transformation.