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Waterfall and Scrum Methodology

Info: 3243 words (13 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Information TechnologyManagement

Executive Summary

The choice of development methodology for a project refers to the framework that is used to structure, plan and control the process of developing the system. There are different forms of such frameworks that have evolved over the years each having strengths and weaknesses. Since 1960, developers have introduced methodologies to assist with managing and developing large and complex software development projects (Larman & Basili, 2003). Each of the available methodologies is best suited to specific kinds of projects, based on various technical, organizational, project and team considerations (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2008). This report studies a case study that made three attempts to execute a successfully implement a project following a traditional methodology in first attempt and shifting to scrum in the third attempt. There have been discussions and recommendations based on the different phases that occurred during the project followed by the conclusion.

Keywords: Project management methodology, Waterfall, Scrum, FBI Sentinel Project

Table of Contents


Case study

Brief Description of Project Methodologies

Comparison Table Based on Nine PMBOK Areas






A software development methodology is a framework, structure or the outline that is used to plan and control the process of developing the system .There are different frameworks that have evolved during the past years with each having its own strengths and weaknesses. Over the years, developers have produced and instituted many methodologies to overcome the challenges of managing software engineering project (Nasir & Sahibuddin, 2011) .The Standish Group (2015) reported that from 2011 to 2015, 39% of agile projects were successful, and 52% reached completion, but with challenges.

This report focuses on a case study of the project owned by the US federal bureau of investigation FBI and discusses two different methodologies followed by the FBI to complete the project .The comparison between the two methodologies Traditional (Waterfall Methodology) and Agile (Scrum Methodology) within the nine PMBOK knowledge areas is done followed by the discussion and recommendations.

Case study

In the year 2000 the US federal bureau of investigation FBI initiated its Trilogy program whose aim is to upgrade the paper based system to electronic based system it’s known as VCF (Virtual case file) project .Due to its various lacking FBI shut down the project VCF (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .In 2003, the FBI began a project named Sentinel targeting an end-user base of more than 30,000 FBI agents, analysts, and administrative employees(Schmitz, 2014). Sentinel will lessen the FBI’s dependency on paperwork, increase communication between FBI field offices, correlate data from multiple cases, limit redundancy, and reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks (Fulgham, Johnson, Crandall, & Jackson, 2011). Initially sentinel followed traditional software methodology .The sentinel is to be developed within four phases and be ready to be deployed by December 2009(Division, 2009). But only two phases were completed and due to overhead budget and timeline the project has to be stopped. On October 18, 2010, the FBI’s Information Technology Engineering Division (ITED) kicked off the new development approach to complete Sentinel: Agile development with Scrum methodology. (Division, 2009) .Hence scrum was used to deliver the complete sentinel project.

Brief Description of Project Methodologies

  1. Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall development is still a widely used way of working in software development companies (Petersen, Wohlin, & Baca, 2009). The Waterfall model is a linear, step-by-step approach to managing project processes by separate the whole project into five fixed phases, each correspondent for specific tasks in project life cycle. The five phases are Requirements phase, Design phase, Implementation phase, Integration – Testing, and Maintenance phase.

  1. Scrum Methodology

Scrum has been the most popular agile method in use for years (Zhang & Dorn, 2011). This management process enforces mechanisms that promote feedback loops and learning environments as opposed to the traditional command-and-control management approach (Lin, Miao, Shen, & Sun, 2013) .The scrum methodology is used when the prompt development of the software is required. The scrum is iterative and incremental methodology.

Comparison Table Based on Nine PMBOK Areas

Knowledge Area Waterfall Methodology Scrum Methodology
Project Integration Management Expanding set of requirements (Schmitz, 2014).

No involvement of senior official (Schmitz, 2014) .

Narrowing system requirements (Schmitz, 2014) .

Integration of Latest technologies (Schmitz, 2014) .

Project Scope Management Requirements were written in 2004 (Fulgham, Johnson, Crandall, Jackson, & Burrows, 2011).

Developed in four phases (Sutherland, 2012) .

Clarification and simplification of requirements (Schmitz, 2014) .
Project Time Management Estimation about Project deployment by December 2009 (Division, 2009). November 2011 all phases completed(Sutherland, 2012) .
Project Cost Management Initial estimated cost of Sentinel  $425 million (Division, 2009).

Cost increased (Division, 2009).

Cost schedule alignment (Fulgham et al., 2011) .

Saving 90 percent cost (Sutherland, 2012) .

Project Quality Management Audits were conducted (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .

Negative user feedback (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011)

Improved decision making and communication (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011).

Strategic approach to IT (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .

Project Human Resource Management Large software development team (Fulgham et al., 2011) . Manageable team size , More collaborative environment

(Fulgham et al., 2011) .

Project Communications Management Communication challenges (Fulgham et al., 2011) . Strong relationship among team (Fulgham et al., 2011) .


Project Risk Management Managing risk reserve fund (Division, 2009). Relying less on external technology partners (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .
Project Procurement Management Lack of specifications, deliverables and checkpoints (Schmitz, 2014).


Project demonstrations (Fulgham et al., 2011) .

Feedback from end users (Schmitz, 2014) .

  1. Project Integration Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- Initially FBI has planned adequately for the project scope and budget (Division, 2009) .But the requirements kept increasing which led the delay of project and there was no involvement of senior official (Schmitz, 2014).
  1. Scrum Methodology: – On October 18, 20 I 0, the FBI’s Information Technology Engineering Division (ITED) kicked off the new development approach to complete Sentinel: Agile development with Scrum methodology. Agile model ensures that the latest technologies and best practices are integrated into Sentinel’s development process to address remaining requirements in an effective, prioritized manner (Division, 2009) .
  1. Project Scope Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- The initial requirements of the project were written in 2004 and is expected to be developed in four phases (Sutherland, 2012) .Whereas only first two phases were deployed successfully .
  1. Scrum Methodology: – In 2010 the CTO told the Department of Justice that he was going to change the approach for Sentinel. He asserted that this new approach would streamline decision-making processes and allow the FBI to deliver Sentinel within budget (Sutherland, 2012).
  1. Project Time Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- According to the FBI’s original plan, Sentinel was to be developed in four phases and deploy by December 2009 (Sutherland, 2012) .
  1. Scrum Methodology :- By November 2011, within a year of restarting with the new approach, all phases of Sentinel had been completed (Sutherland, 2012).
  1. Project Cost Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- The cost of  Lockheed Martin’s Contract broken down into four phases was $305 million and the FBI estimated that it would cost an additional $120 million to staff and administer the FBI’s Sentinel program management office (PMO) that calculated the total estimated cost of the project at $425 million(Division, 2009). But by August 2010, the FBI had spent $405 million of the $451 million Sentinel budget but delivered the functionality for only two of Sentinel’s four phases (Sutherland, 2012).
  1. Scrum Methodology :- The FBI was able to complete Sentinel for $30 million dollars within 12-months, a cost savings of more than 90 percent (Sutherland, 2012).Cost schedule alignment was achieved with the help of story points (Fulgham et al., 2011) .
  1. Project Quality Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- The DoJ OIG were involved to conduct the audit of the four phases of the program .After deployment of phase 1 the team monitored the schedule during which they did tests ,pilots and involved FBI trained personnel in depth to ensure proper performance .The DoJ OIG noticed that sentinel had performance and issues regarding use and it also received negative feedback from the user during testing (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .
  1. Scrum Methodology :-  The factors that made the positive transformation are the FBI risk management ,improved decision making and communication and the strategic approach to IT (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .
  1.  Project Human Resource Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- The project included a large software development and management team of almost 300 people (Fulgham et al., 2011).
  2. Scrum Methodology :-  The project included a small team of approximately 15 members and a business team of approximately 30 members .The FBI selected some FBI employees and the government contractors from the previous original team (Fulgham et al., 2011).
  1. Project Communication Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- As the large number of  people were employed during the development process which led to communication challenges, specifically among the software developers (Fulgham et al., 2011).They were not able to implement a good object oriented programming processes.
  1. Scrum Methodology :- The team had a strong relationship with the upper level management .The CTO has relocated his office to the area of development team for the daily contact with the team .The project barriers were removed as access to high level executives reduced the time to take major decisions which acted as a support for the project (Fulgham et al., 2011) .
  1.  Project  Risk Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology: – A management risk reserve is maintained to fund unforeseen changes in the project’s scope (Division, 2009). The FBI itself was not prepared to use the fund as it demonstrated more control of sentinel while accommodating further modifications (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .
  1. Scrum Methodology :-  The FBI employed a new approach in the development process they took the project from Lockheed and used its own employees and also rely less on the external technology partners (Olszewski & Wingreen, 2011) .
  1.  Project Procurement Management
  1. Waterfall Methodology :- Initially the scheduled contract lacked the deliverables and checkpoint commitments and the FBI’s senior management failed to take care of the important tasks such as defining the IT concept and which in turn make the organization dependent on the outside contractors (Schmitz, 2014).
  1. Scrum Methodology: – During the end of the sprint cycle developers give the project demonstration for the team an stakeholders including the FBI officials. This iterative process lead the business and development team to work more closely and also involved the stakeholders at some specific point in the project development (Fulgham et al., 2011).

The comparison table depicts that there have been various flaws that occur in the traditional project management methodology to overcome these flaws agile has been used. There has always been difficulty in adapting the fuzzy demands, quick changes, and time pressure and user customization in the traditional methodology (Zhang, Cheng, & Du, 2013) and same happened in the case of FBI project. The waterfall approach was not able to handle the increasing requirements and deliver the project within the budget and timeline .For instance, the initial purpose of the VCF was solely to support traditional criminal investigations. Thereby, the project was well on track. But through its expansion to include intelligence tasks for counterterrorism, the project gained in complexity and was not able to accommodate the changing requirements (Schmitz, 2014). On the other hand, the Scrum model was able to adapt these changes .The developers have learned from the previous failures that what has to be done in order to reach to the desired outcome.


The FBI implemented Sentinel in July 2012 as an electronic information and case management system that includes records management, workflow management, evidence management, search and reporting capabilities, and information sharing with other law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community (Division, 2014).But still  the IG found that Sentinel is still suffering from some serious operational deficiencies two years after it went live (Charette, 2014). A well-managed project may fail to deliver the intended outcomes, and a poorly managed project can still be successful, although it may come with a hefty price tag (Jugdev, Perkins, Fortune, White, & Walker, 2013). The sentinel project have proved this with its three attempts resulting in a big budget spend on for the development. There have been positive and negative feedbacks by the users after using sentinel .If the changes have been accommodated and proper risk management was performed at earlier stages then sentinel project have been one of the successful projects. Two years have passed since the FBI deployed Sentinel to users in July 2012. Since the deployment, the FBI has worked to improve both the functionality and user’s experience with Sentinel. During the audit, the majority of users who participated in the survey conducted during the audit viewed their experience with Sentinel positively, responding that Sentinel has increased their daily productivity, increased their ability to share information with personnel in other offices, and enhanced the FBI’s ability to carry out its mission (Division, 2014).There had been many reasons for the project failure in the two attempts that can be changing requirements, lack of IT knowledge and not following a strategic approach for the project .A large number of team resulted in lot of communication challenges .Whereas by reducing the number of team members in the agile had resulted in more collaborative environment within the team which resulted in better output .


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2008). Selecting a development approach. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csi.2016.06.003

Charette, R. N. (2014). FBI’s sentinel system still not in total shape to surveil. Retrieved from http://spectrum.ieee.org/riskfactor/computing/it/fbis-500-million-sentinel-case-management-system-still-has-major-operational-kinks-ig-reports

Division, U. S. D. of justice office off the I. general A. (2009). Sentinel Audit V: Status of the federal bureau of investigation’s case management system.

Division, U. S. D. of justice office off the I. general A. (2014). Audit of the status of the fbi sentinel program. Retrieved from https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2014/a1431.pdf

Fulgham, C., Johnson, J., Crandall, M., & Jackson, L. (2011). The FBI gets agile, 57–60. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6028561&url=http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=6028561

Nasir, M. H. N. M., & Sahibuddin, S. (2011). Addressing a critical success factor for software projects: A multi-round delphi study of TSP. International Journal of the Physical Sciences, 6(5), 1213–1232. https://doi.org/10.5897/IJPS11.092

Olszewski, L., & Wingreen, S. C. (2011). The fbi sentinel project. Journal of Cases on Information Technology, 13(3), 84–102. https://doi.org/10.4018/jcit.2011070105

Petersen, K., Wohlin, C., & Baca, D. (2009). The waterfall model in large-scale. Product-Focused Software Process Improvement, 10th International Conference, PROFES 2009, 386–400. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-02152-7_29

Schmitz, A. (2014). IT System Failures : The FBI ’ s virtual case file case study. Global IT Management.

Sutherland, K. S. (2012). Software in 30 Days :How agile managers beat the odds,delight their customers,and leave competitors in the dust. John Wiley & Sons.

Zhang, Y. K., Cheng, T. X., & Du, W. Bin. (2013). An agile development bidirectional iteration model for project management information system and its application. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 411414, 501–506. https://doi.org/10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMM.411-414.501

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