Waterfall vs Agile Project Management for Salesforce Implementations
Our partners at Idealist Consulting are hearty evangelists of agile project management. They find themselves in conversations about how key it is to minimizing risk in Salesforce implementation projects so wanted to share some of their reasons. This guest post comes from Idealist Consulting’s CRM Admin Consultant Ashley Bochiechio.
As a Salesforce consultant, I have worked on projects which use agile project management as well as projects which strictly adhere to a traditional waterfall approach. Remember the difference? Agile project management follows a project structure of design, tweak, repeat, launch, improve. Waterfall, on the other hand, is a style of project management which focuses almost half the scoped time on the creation of a highly detailed design document (an all-inclusive document listing what will be implemented for a given project). Based on my experiences, I have developed a strong preference for agile. In the great race to implement Salesforce, time is always of the essence, but not only that, your project risks will be much better managed through an agile approach.
Here is why should you insist on seeking out an agile consulting firm as your partner.
Why Waterfall Leads to Higher Risk
Before I sing the praises of agile, let’s look a little closer at the design documents involved in waterfall-style implementations. Typical design document will include business process, lead and opportunity lifecycle, email templates, any custom fields with respective values, role hierarchy and custom profiles, and many more. The only problem is, they just don’t work for Salesforce implementations.
The real use for a design document is to provide an insurance policy for the consulting company, disguised as a security blanket for the customer. No customer will ever be able to develop a lucid picture of the proposed system by reading a design document. So when the project derails the consultant can pull out the design document like its a get out of jail free card. The result is the customer pays big money to design their own system prison. At Idealist Consulting, we believe there’s a better way.
Agile Gives you Wings!
I feel much more confidant with my agile projects because the agile approach allows for the freedom to make changes as necessary, without the shackles of an outdated document. If I have 10 projects going, I know from day 1 when I will need to budget my time. With waterfall I have no real idea when the design document will be approved, which makes it difficult to allocate project resources and ensure a client’s schedule is maintained.
With agile projects, the first phone call starts with requirements gathering. On the next phone call, we are looking at their Salesforce system together with some freshly implemented customization. After more phone calls and modifications (quick iteration and early prototypes being one of the keystones of agile), we start on report creation.
Requirements Gathering and Implementation From the Start
Agile allows to skip the pomp and circumstance and get to what really matters – the work. With waterfall there are many long- winded review sessions focused on making the customer comfortable, the who’s who conversation, the business process review, overall analysis of existing systems, and of course many discussions about the big design document. None of these things show concrete results in Salesforce or provide valuable results, and much of this can happen very quickly in the project kick-off call. Every waterfall project I have had also involves explaining why half the hours and budget have been used up and nothing is in the system. The customers feel like the wheels are spinning but we are going nowhere. This simply never happens with agile because real work happens from the very start.
In summary, Agile will:
- Save you time and money
- Lead to faster results and a faster final product
- Allow for greater customer self-sufficiency and autonomy
- Give your team more relevant reports
- Result in a higher degree of customer system comprehension
- Grant you greater peace of mind
So you can see, agile makes happier consultants and happier customers – and who doesn’t want that? This was only a brief look at waterfall vs agile project management. Idealist Consulting has a more in depth review of the pros and cons over on their blog, so be sure to check out how you can save time and money by implementing an agile Salesforce integration.