The Art of Project Methodology: Contextual Considerations on Agility and Waterfall

from Chelsea Alther at

In the world of project management methodologies, there is often a dogmatic battle going on between those advocating agile and those advocating traditional waterfall. But today I want to be clear: We are not evangelists for one side or the other. We are advocates of contextualization. Every project is unique and deserves a thoughtful and tailored approach.

1. The beauty of diversity

Projects are as diverse as the people who run them and the organizations in which they are rooted. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. Agile may work well in a startup environment, while waterfall may be more appropriate in a regulated industry. My job as a project expert is to understand this individual context and to develop and recommend the optimal approach.

2. Project context and risk management

The project context is key to choosing the right method. How complex is the project? How well defined are the requirements? Are there a lot of unknown variables? Agility is often useful when a high degree of change is expected or when an above-average degree of flexibility is required. On the other hand, if a non-negotiable roadmap, clear content, and hierarchical control are required, the waterfall approach may be a better choice.

3. Team dynamics and organizational culture

Individual skills, team composition, and organizational culture also play a role in the choice of project method. Agile methods emphasize collaboration, self-organization, and continuous feedback. If the team shares these values and the culture of the organization supports them, agility can accelerate project progress. Waterfall, on the other hand, may be appropriate if clear hierarchies and structured processes are preferred.

4. Flexibility and hybrid approaches

Why limit yourself to one method when you can combine the benefits of different approaches? Hybrid approaches allow you to get the best of both worlds. It is perfectly possible to introduce agile principles into a waterfall approach or vice versa, depending on the specific requirements of the project. However, this requires experience to avoid getting lost in confusing terrain. Unfortunately, I have seen too many cases in the past where an agile approach was chosen simply because comprehensive planning seemed too demanding. However, even with agile approaches, it is important to maintain a clear framework for planning.

5. Consulting and expertise

As an experienced project expert, I am not an ideological warrior, but a consultant committed to the success of each project - and I speak for all my colleagues at diselva. We are here to listen, analyze and make recommendations based on our expertise. Our goal is to find the right method for the given context and to ensure that the project has the best chance of success under the given conditions.


In a world of ever-changing requirements and technologies, we must be agile enough to adapt and apply our knowledge to each project context. Let's cross the ideological divide and recognize that the art of project management is to be flexible, adaptable and contextual.


Chelsea Alther

Project Manager & Partner