Agile v. Waterfall: Which is Best for Microsoft Dynamics NAV

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If you’ve worked on a project, it’s likely you know there are two well-known approaches to project management: Agile, what my company calls Adaptive Project Management, and what is commonly called the “Waterfall” methodology.

Is one better than the other? It depends on the project, but for Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementations, in our experience, agile is the best choice.

With the waterfall approach, a project is executed in phases: requirements elicitation, planning, design, execution and maintenance. Stakeholder requirements are communicated to the partner’s design and delivery teams. This method is not collaborative, which can lead to misunderstanding of requirements and problems with the solution.

The waterfall approach also assumes the stakeholder requirements are well defined up front and won’t change. However, this is not typically how Dynamics NAV implementations go—or most software implementations, for that matter. Stakeholder requirements will likely change, or new ones will rise to the surface. With the waterfall approach, these new and different requirements would be put on the back burner until the next phase of the project, which flies in the face of delivering business value through a successful solution.

Another feature of the waterfall approach is that the project typically has one major release, often referred to as a “go live.” The problem with this approach is that the project can go off track or fall behind schedule at any point, and it is likely that no one will know before it’s too late and the go-live date is forced to slip.

With agile or Adaptive Project Management, the goal is to make small course corrections as they are needed, rather than being faced with major issues until it’s too late to do something about them without significantly impacting the project.

During the course of an agile/Adaptive Project Management engagement, phases are iteratively executed in sprints. This approach is designed to address new requirements and changes as they come up, keep the project on schedule, and bring issues to the forefront quickly so they can be addressed without impacting the schedule or the deliverable.

Because collaboration is critical to a successful project, this approach requires that the project team include members of both the partner and the client, all of whom have responsibilities throughout the life of the project and for its ultimate success. This approach also provides not only the project team but also the stakeholders opportunities to review, ask questions, and raise concerns about the project’s direction and progression.

By using the agile/Adaptive Project Management approach, the project costs less, brings more value, and makes all stakeholders happier.

Greg Kaupp is the CEO of ArcherPoint, LLC, a Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision) partner. Greg has been involved in Dynamics NAV implementations for companies throughout the U.S. since 1997.

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