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Elyssa Pallai

VP Marketing

Digital marketer and translator, Elyssa spends her time putting NPD and engineering concepts into plain english and working on new and meaningful ways to connect with Playbook's amazing clients.

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Lean vs Agile vs Waterfall

Elyssa Pallai- 03/5/19 06:00 PM

Lean vs. Agile vs. Waterfall Project Management

In a previous post we discussed that there is no doubt project management methods have evolved and the traditional Phase Gate or Waterfall approach has gotten a lot of bashing lately.  That’s not to say there aren’t benefits to Waterfall...

For example, we discussed that one benefit of Waterfall is the delivery of a linear plan where management and team members can see a specific deliverable at the end.

And while having an easy to understand linear plan in place is Waterfall’s greatest benefit, its linear nature, and therefore its limited ability to deal with change and circular learning cycles, is its main drawback. Agile, on the other hand, embraces this circular learning cycle with iteration at its core. But in the end, neither method offers the perfect solution for hardware new product development teams.

Agile Supports Change, But Not Long-Term Planning

So how do you get to the sweet spot - a hybrid methodology that supports change but also enables short and long term planning...?

Well, our answer to this question came from helping many customers develop a solution that exactly met their needs. The result was a consistent reduction in delivery times that didn't compromise product quality.

Lean, Flow, Agile, Waterfall and Theory of Constraints

The Playbook approach is a variation on Lean and includes the best of Lean, Flow, Agile, Waterfall and Theory of Constraints to arrive at a solution that works for hardware development teams.  As a result we believe the perfect solution for hardware teams combines:

  • Long term planning (Waterfall)

  • Short term iterations (Agile)

  • Real-time project updates that show the impact on both the long and short-term plan (Agile and Waterfall)

  • Stand-meetings (Agile)

  • Pull based task management 

  • Enterprise wide/Cross project resource management

  • Decentralized project management

  • Critical chain project management

To make the comparison simple, we've created this table which shows how Playbook stacks up against project management attributes. 





Long term coordinated planning (Gantt view)

Short term, iterative planning

Real-time, Up-to-date, project status

Stand-up meetings

Pull-based task management

Resource overload limits (limited WIP)

Critical Path / Critical Chain

Accurate, enterprise wide resource utilization

Clear priorities across the enterprise

Decentralized project management


Have more questions? Watch the product demo which first shows the top issues that cause project delays and in the second part, walks you through a demonstration of Playbook.

Watch Demo Video

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