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Why Agile Isn’t Cheaper, and Waterfall Isn’t Either

Which weighs more, a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers? It’s a trick question, but maybe one that IT professionals should ask themselves more often. Scott Sehlhorst says the pound of bricks versus the pound of feathers is a lot like comparing a year of Agile to a year of the Waterfall approach. People are always asking if Agile is cheaper. Sehlhorst believes the short answer is no. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying a team of people to try Agile for a year or if you’re paying them to try the Waterfall approach. If you’re paying them the same amount of money, Agile and Waterfall are going to cost the same.

The question you should be asking is which has the higher chance of succeeding. Agile uses an incremental approach, so if there is a problem with the solution, it will be discovered faster. Waterfall has a higher chance of delivering a faulty product to the market, because if you start with a faulty solution you’ll also end with one. So next time, don’t ask which pound is heavier, ask which approach makes a better long-term building material. Is it the bricks or the feathers?  

About Rachel Ginder

Rachel Ginder was a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success and joined the team in 2013. She also helped with social media and research.

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