The Project Slippery Slope: why the concept of Projects lead to Waterfall, sooner or later, but inevitably…

All that is below applies in the context that is defined here. This is not supposed to cover your personal “projects”, musical “projects”, art “projects”, home improvement “projects”, etc. You get the picture.

In a company that uses the concept of “projects” to decide what to work on, fund, plan, control work (contextual boundary), projects need the following characteristics before they can be approved:

  • Stakeholders must agree (usually several) to the “valuable goal” for the project. Which requires some work to define, quantify, align and sell that goal. This is, in other words, “some” up-front planning.
  • In order to agree to the feasibility of the goal, the company then proceeds to analyze the necessary work, availability of skills, allocation of people with skills. This is “some more” upfront planning.
  • In order to know the skills, the company does an initial breakdown of the software architecture.
  • Skill assessment leads to work assignment to sepcific individuals and/or teams. Work assignment is another driver for the up-front (exhaustive if not complete) work breakdown, i.e. some more upfront planning – even before the work is actually started.
  • In order to assign the people to the new project, the company must have a plan for the other, ongoing projects, so they can know if a certain person and/or team is free to be allocated to the project being proposed. This is some more upfront planning for other projects, which would not have been approved without a work breakdown and the other characteristics above.
  • In order to fund the project, the company will conduct an estimation of the work (which can only be done after the work is minimally broken down). This represents yet some more upfront planning.

Projects require many of the aspects that fit the description of Waterfall, and require you to do a full pass of those steps before you can even start the work

— SoftwareDevelopmentToday.com

In other words, in a company that uses the concept of “projects” to decide what to work on, fund, plan, control work. Projects require many of the aspects that fit the description of Waterfall, and require you to do a full pass of those steps before you can even start the work (One pass waterfall: Goal -> architecture -> minimal design -> people assigned -> people must follow a plan because of other projects) 🤷🏻‍♀️

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