Agile, Critical Chain, and Fusion

Probably you’re already familiar with agile software development, with its emphasis on teamwork, rapid deliveries, low work in process, and end-user involvement. You may also be familiar with “waterfall,” which generally includes some combination of long-term plans, long design/development/test cycles, and rigid specifications and roles.

The traditional waterfall approach, which has been around pretty much forever, is truly at odds with agile. Traditional waterfall involves lots of work in process. It isn’t designed to respond well to change, and software development nowadays is all about change. The more rigid the management approach is, the more we’d advise you to be suspicious of it.

However, even though Critical Chain and waterfall both employ dependency planning, you would NOT be correct in equating Critical Chain and Fusion with waterfall. In fact, Fusion products are very much compatible with agile. We support rolling wave planning, intermediate deliveries, and backlogs. Our algorithms help minimize work in process.

For simple products with regular updates, you may not need much dependency planning. You have a set of features; those with the highest priority NOW have to be built and delivered. However, the more complex the product and the more moving parts it has, the more you need dependency planning. At a minimum, you need a roadmap that helps show what sequence things need to be completed in.

An existing phone app with regular releases may not need a dependency plan; a new database system with front-end applications and user migrations almost certainly does.

So keep in mind: dependency planning does not mean waterfall. In fact, dependency planning is a key prerequisite for truly scaling agile.

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