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Want to get results sooner?

In an attempt to demonstrate that an iterative and incremental development process produces results faster, I came up with a quick comparison. Although simplified, I am using some fairly straight forward assumptions to demonstrate my point.


The following graph compares the cumulative costs-benefits of each approach used for a Business Intelligence (BI) project. BI projects notoriously require a lot of time up front to plan, architect, and design the solution. Once these initial steps are completed, up to 70% of the development team is spent on the development of the ETL. All these efforts are usually required prior to delivering key performance indicators (KPIs) to the business users.

As can be seen, both approaches require an initial investment in the development of the solution but after the third iteration (month 3), some value is already being delivered to the business user when using an iterative and incremental approach.

Using a project management view, the waterfall approach typically requires that activities get completed before moving to the next one. As such, the development team needs to progress through each step before the BI application can be deployed in production and the business users gets to see his first KPIs. This is in the best case scenario where the initial requirements were accurate and the business context didn’t change for the duration of the project.

By comparison, short iterations (typically between 20 and 30 business days) that focus on end-to-end solutions quickly provide results to business users.

Some planning needs to take place prior to launching an iterative and incremental project (which will be discussed in another post) but the obvious value is in delivering results sooner.

Do you know a business user who wouldn’t be interested in such an approach?

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