Fourth Industrial Revolution
In 2006, the economist Jeremy Rikfin described the beginning of a new scientific-technological revolution which would bring about fundamental changes in our global economy. Jeremy outlined the first steps being taken in an adventure of renewable energy, hybrid vehicles, intelligent networks, etc. At the time, many homes were still experiencing their first contact with the Internet.
Just over 10 years later, the Technology of Information and Communication has changed the way in which we live, work, and experience the world. However, in the hallways and meeting rooms of companies such as S4G – dedicated to adding value to businesses with cutting-edge technologies – we’ve moved on to talking about the next round of exciting technologies. Today the conversations are about Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Algorithms and the Internet of Things (IoT). Many call this new wave of developments the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Agile Manifesto
A few years earlier, in 2001, a group of software developers got together at a ski station to piece together a common thought they shared: The excessive planning which at the time was commonplace in software development was blinding companies to the essence of change. The real focus of attention should be on the improvement of the user experience.
Born of this agreement was the Agile Manifesto, summarized in twelve pillars. Agility, flexibility, and speed of response should be prioritized over planning. The Agile Manifesto served as a starting point for the development of other schools of Agile thought: Scrum, Design-thinking, DevOps, Kanban and Extreme Programming (XP) are just a few of the most common. Despite their differences, all of these methodologies share a common philosophy: a constant cycle of improvement.
Salesforce, pioneers and innovators.
Since its inception, Salesforce has been all in on Cloud Computing, constantly innovating the CRM landscape with a fresh offering. Blazing a new trail from the beginning, this spirit of innovation continues today, with three annual releases (Winter, Spring and Summer), to continually update their ecosystem. With this aggressive approach to growth, the antiquated Waterfall methodologies of the past would have been a burden to progress. Therefore, Salesforce adopted Agile methodologies in their Technology and Product teams starting in 2006, and since then has included this ideology in all of their teams and processes.
Why hasn’t the Agile Method completely replaced the Waterfall approach?
Our clients are exploring more and more the use of Agile methodologies for the internal management of their projects. However, 15 years after the creation of the Agile Manifesto, and despite its global spread, these methods have not completely replaced traditional Waterfall project planning concepts.
If the Agile concept results in a better user experience than traditional methodologies, then why isn’t adoption at 100%?
The answer is simple. Despite the positive reception of the Agile method for software development, Agile is not always the best strategy for all businesses, projects, and contexts. It’s important to have in mind the main differentiators of these methods, and identify the pros and cons they may represent for a specific project. Depending on the project in question, one method or another may provide superior results in achieving the same objective.
How do these methods affect the level of detail in project planning?
In projects where the changes can be defined with a maximum level of detail and without uncertainties and dependencies, Waterfall methods can work just as well if not better, with the added benefit of reducing timeframes and, therefore, costs.
However, when there are doubts regarding the design of certain aspects, Agile allows you to experiment with prototypes and iterations. This helps users with testing and definition of the solution via trial and error, all without obstructing the progress of other components of the project which have clear roll-out plans.
For a Salesforce implementation, should I use an Agile, Waterfall, or Hybrid project management style?
When the users are already familiarized with Salesforce and the project consists of a platform evolution or a previously implemented Salesforce cloud, it’s more likely for users to have a clear understanding of their needs, and, therefore, chances are the effort required for change management will be reduced.
On the other hand, the implementation of a new Salesforce cloud implies a greater amount of uncertainty when it comes to defining requirements. This may complicate the design of the solution and increase the resources required for planning.
Waterfall methodologies dictate that all requirements are defined in the Analysis stage of the project, before development. The risk may arise of defining the solution with a certain set of tasks which are misinterpreted, but only identified upon completion of the entire project. By contrast, Agile methods allow progress to be made towards the final solution, while validating individual components with users thereby reducing project risk.
These methodologies are not all black and white. There are projects in which the initial requirements can only be partially collected and there is flexibility in delivery time and/or the development of the solution. In these cases, there are hybrid methods, which leave some room for the project to evolve and for the final solution to be shaped within certain limits which are established in the initial analysis and design stages.
Comprehensive understanding of the context is necessary to ensure use of the best methods
The mission of sales teams must be to fully understand the context, needs, and priorities of the client as vital components of the project. A correct assessment of initial needs and changes to be made is fundamental to identifying the methodology which best suits the circumstances. For each case, advantages and drawbacks must be weighed to compare Agile or traditional methods.
At S4G we work under Waterfall, Agile, or even hybrid methodologies, given that each project poses a unique set of challenges and is approached individually, allowing us to define a plan in conjunction with our clients that ensures project success.