The strength of the Waterfall Methodology is its ability to maximize quality, cost and time for projects. It is especially effective when projects are highly integrated with unavailable end users, a fixed budget, and schedule. These are the circumstances that most large organizations have to manage.

In waterfall methodology, the analyze and design phase are completed very early in the project. During this phase, requirements and budget are signed off. Changing scope after this point can be difficult. As a result, one of the biggest criticism of waterfall methodology is that teams build features that customers do not truly like.

Conversely, Agile methodology allows teams to gather customer insights, build features and easily test those features with customers. It addresses the customer-centric issues of Waterfall methodology, however, it does not address the issues of complex integration, large teams, limited customer interactions and a fixed budget. If you would like to know more about the two methodologies see this article: A Cheat Sheet for when to use Agile vs Waterfall Methodology.

In essence, the difference between the two methodologies is that agile is much more flexible to understanding and adopting customer needs. This is important because products need to be intuitive and well designed to succeed in today’s age.

 

What is Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” — Tim Brown, president and CEO of Apple.

Design Thinking follows a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems. It follows a human-centered approach to first understand the customer, brainstorm ideas and prototype a solution. The most important part is to validate the design with the customer and incorporate feedback into a new design. Then you re-validate with the customers and gain more feedback.
 

 

The Advantage of Design Thinking

Design Teams can quickly build prototypes (especially through wireframes) for a variety of situations. It does not take long to create prototypes for many different scenarios and a fully functioning product. Once designs are created it is easy to change and adapt customers feedback.

Design Teams can validate the prototype with customers and gather new requirements. These requirements can be prioritized from Must Haves to Nice to Haves.

Building simple but descriptive prototypes and validating with customers can result in better customer experience and cost efficient features.

 

Design Thinking and Waterfall

Design thinking is excellent for prototyping and designing solutions. Once prototypes have been finalized, a Business Analyst can turn them into the deliverables necessary for the analyze and design phases in the waterfall methodology.

To demonstrate how Design Thinking and Waterfall methodologies overlap see below:
 

 
 
As shown above, the Design Thinking process could be incorporated into the Analyse and Design phases. It may make these phases longer than a standard project but the resulting requirements and designs will be much more effective.

As shown above, the Design Thinking process could be incorporated into the Analyse and Design phases. It may make these phases longer than a standard project but the resulting requirements and designs will be much more effective.

 

The Advantage of Design Thinking in Waterfall Methodology

  • Products are designed for the customer: Improved requirements and designs that align to best suit customer’s needs
  • Costs for features are optimized: Streamlined proven to meet customer needs requirements that remove the cost of unneeded requirements
  • Designs are validated with the customer: Reduction in the risk of change requests to project scope lowering cost in the later phases

 

 

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