There’s a common belief that the vast majority of organizations adopting and integrating Scrum come from a Waterfall-like background. This was supported by 49% of respondents either used Scrum in addition to an existing Waterfall method or used it for some projects while using Waterfall for the rest.

13% use Scrum exclusively, while 31% seem to indicate no use of Waterfall. 23% felt that it was a difficult transition to move from a Waterfall-based method to Scrum, and 25% felt that there were no clearly identified metrics to identify and measure the successful delivery of Scrum projects.

Furthermore, almost half of the participants are deploying and managing Scrum projects within a PMO, and about the same number feel that managing and deploying Scrum projects this way is mostly effective and successful. PMOs are usually tasked with deploying and managing projects, programs and portfolios within a traditional project management method that’s often Waterfall-based.
The reality is that organizations that want to incorporate Scrum are usually coming from a  waterfall based background and need to integrate Scrum alongside or within their existing methods.

A Forrester study titled “Water-Scrum-Fall Is the Reality of Agile for Most Organizations Today,” published in June 2011, indicates that:

“Hybrid Agile methods are a reality in most Agile implementations. This happens in part because Agile adoption has been practitioner-led, leading teams to focus on domains they can influence, mainly the team itself. Areas outside of their control, such as business analysis and release management, continue to follow more traditional approaches, meaning that Scrum adoption is limited to the development-team level. Compliance requirements are another factor driving hybrid approaches, as they call for strong governance processes before and after development.”

While it would be advantageous to practice Scrum as it is prescribed, many organizations starting from
Waterfall will need to look at ways to integrate Scrum either alongside their existing methods or within
them. As the Forrester study recommends, you will need to understand the limitation of a hybrid Scrum and Waterfall integration (what they like to refer to as “Water-Scrum-Fall”) while also pushing the boundaries to get the most efficient and effective results. In addition, incorporating a way to measure progress for the projects your organization is undertaking—whether through Scrum, Waterfall and/or
a combination of both—will be helpful in letting you know which is best. As Brian O’Reilly of Accel
Solutions Group notes:

“I do believe that some sort of portfolio tool that caters to Agile allows the collection of good metrics for both Agile and traditional project approaches. Using data-driven metrics [would] drive improvements to Agile as issues arise AND [such data could] show management that indeed, Agile is a significant improvement over traditional approaches.”

Having a way to identify solid metrics and benchmarks will allow your organization to obsess less
about which method or practice is best and instead apply the right mix of practices and techniques to the particular situation at hand.

Recommendation: Understand the constraints and limitations of a hybrid Scrum-Waterfall integration, but keep pushing the boundaries and measure the results. Like the old adage
says, “practice makes perfect,” the more you practice Scrum as it is prescribed, the better the results you will see.