The return of waterfall development

In a little-seen press release earlier this week, a major software vendor announced the move away from BPMN and Agile development techniques and toward a more traditional waterfall methodology supported by an unnamed new mapping standard.

After a little investigation, it appears to coincide with today’s story on the Cordy’s website that that Netherlands’ OMG Software is the source of the mapping standard.

Changing models

More interesting than the new mapping standard is the justification for waterfall development, widely considered to be software development methodology best suited to client server apps. Industry insiders assume that this is due to the challenges facing enterprises today as a proliferation of apps and fast-changing business models converge. As an industry insider says,  “No sooner is one model ready for the runway and we’re changing again!”

Challenges of Agile

While it has been heralded as the method of the 21st Century, Agile has come under enormous pressure as businesses:

  • Rely on bringing together many sources of data
  • Feel pressure to adapt changing logic to increasing amounts of data
  • Require an ability to layer social tools into applications
  • Attempt to connect their value chain to transactional software
  • Work to comply with increasing regulation
  • Bring automation to the workplace

Each of these areas continues to be a sore spot for modern enterprises. While some have attacked these problems by using readily available solutions, others have been waiting for the next generation of as-yet-unidentified tools.


Reached for comment, Otto von Rotfl, CEO of Germany’s Deutsche Übersetzer Maschine Bank, complained that software vendors haven’t perfected the tools to relieve the pressures on businesses trying to implement through Agile development.

Asked where he has investigated to date, von Rotfl terminated the interview and returned to  his enormous plate of sauerkraut.


Categories: Information Technology

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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12 Comments on “The return of waterfall development”

  1. April 1, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Dogmatically following one or the other methodology is always dangerous. There were problems with the Waterfall Model and so, other methods emerged. To the extent I understood, a few of the problems were addressed by the evolutionary (iterative, incremental) methods but NOT enough of them (the problems) to give decisive advantage to Agile Method (some say it is not a method but principle).

    It is not surprising that Agile promises are challenged but going back to Waterfall Method without specifying the purpose and scope would be as hasty as embracing Agile irrationally. Let’s not repeat that folly.

    Here is an observation of the image of WATERFALL. The image of single long waterfall is WRONG. The right image is of multi-stage cascaded waterfall—unfortunately there are not many good images of it.

  2. Tom Bellinson
    April 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    What day is it again?

  3. Max
    April 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    Same time last year, there was one about Google coming up with a Cloud BPMS known as Noodle 🙂 which was more exciting than this one. Unfortunately the article posted on Cordy’s website is one day out of sync.

  4. April 2, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    Any advocate of Lean will tell you – there is no such thing as a perfect process. As people, organisations and group behaviours change over time their most efficient and effective means of achieving a goal also has to change.

    The odd thing is as processes evolve, people badge them with names like “agile”. Once it has a name it becomes fixed. Then people start to hold on to them as gospel – forgetting that this was just an evolutionary step towards aligning their business / development needs to the way people work.

    To your point, agile is a philosophy rather than a process. I don’t think your challenges of agile are hence inherently valid. Large companies typically fail at agile style management as they think by adopting a process they become “agile”. This misses the point.

    Agile was (is) about interactions over process; working software over documentation; collaboration over contracts; and responding to change over following a plan. To become agile you need to deeply change a companies culture to align with this philosophy. This is much harder than reading some books about agile and deciding to do short iterations.

    Much like the fab of being “Lean” by bringing in some process consultants misses the point of the Toyota Production System of continuous improvement. Being Agile or adopting agile, is not about software development as much as it is about how you innovate in your business.

    • April 2, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      Any practical method or principle must enable the practitioner to learn / apply it and realize the benefits without too much of trial and error. There should NOT be too many conditions and uncertainties in the steps to be taken and results achieved.

  5. Walter Bril
    April 2, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    LOL! Hilarious! Netherlands’ OMG Software… I didn’t witness 1 (one) joke yesterday, but this one balances everything again!

  6. David Williams
    April 2, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Chris, I’m thinking that this is an April Fools day post. If so, nice one!

    Agile and Lean delivery techniques are an integral part of the BPM Solutions Practice that I work in. I view one of the main functions of my job to be to introduce Agile practices to organizations and assist them in adopting the techniques. One of the major things that I mediate is the Agile delivery cycles and the dependent not-so-agile delivery of integration points for processes.

  7. Stefan Studer
    April 2, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    Yeah, nice one! Look at the picture of former german chancellor Helmut Kohl 🙂

  8. April 2, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    @David, you are correct. I tried to embed the clues…like von ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) is Helmut Kohl, the bank spelling out DUMB. There may be a few more things in there, too…

  9. Charlotte Bouvy
    April 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    No need to embed all those clues. I mean: ‘The Return of Waterfall Development’ posted on April 1… Nice one!

  10. Craig J Willis
    April 5, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    “enormous plate of sauerkraut” – mmmmmmmmm

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