ISMA 15 conference: Waterfall vs Agile. How can I compare them?

ISMA 15 conference: Waterfall vs Agile. How can I compare them?

Paola Billia (Manager in NTT Data, Member of the Board of GUFPI-ISMA), and Maurizio Sapienza (Former TIM manager)


Main Topics:

  • Agile increasing in popularity
  • Differences between Waterfall and Agile from a software process point of view
  • How to make measures comparable in different environments
  • Next steps


Benefits for Participants:

  • Main point to take into account to make measures comparable in different environments



In most companies, the traditional “waterfall” projects are being replaced with Agile. In fact, in the last ten years technology has changed behaviors, organizations and their processes and AGILE gives the client exactly what they really need, offering more quality and more speed.

A reliable and instant set of measures is key to setting up an effective control over the software production process, and to build a dashboard with the main indicators of interest, such as productivity and unit costs. The indicators also need to be homogeneous across the company’s departments and projects.

However, in Waterfall and Agile, documentation and release management, and average project size are all different regarding both the timeframe between releases and the contents of the documents. This makes the comparison often difficult or misleading. While software development in waterfall projects starts when the requirements have mostly been clearly defined, with Agile they are often defined, refined and reworked during the software development process itself. How do you compare two projects: a big traditional waterfall project and an Agile version? How do you compare measures of the Agile projects against the company historical data (all previously waterfall)?

This presentation suggests how to increase the homogeneity level of measures from Agile and Waterfall projects, mainly for productivity comparison purposes, taking into account the reworking and time frame in releases. However, factors should be seen from a global perspective and the measures selected for the management reports should be balanced. With AGILE we also need indicators (eg speed of release, level of coverage, quality) to measure more than productivity.


About the speakers:

Paola Billia is manager, expert in software measurement methodologies. Over 15 years’ experience in telecommunications with an in-depth knowledge of sales and customer care processes. Key role in coordination of sizing activities for various clients with both traditional and AGILE methodologies. Organizes and provides training on the main methods of measuring software and their correct use. Apply best practices in identifying measurement elements in drafting or managing a contract. Member of the Board of GUFPI-ISMA (Gruppo Utenti Function Point Italia Italian Software Metrics Association), IFPUG function points 4.3 (Certified CFPS), IFPUG SNAP (Certified CSP), Fast Function Point Analisys (by GARTNER), ITIL V3 (Certified), …

Maurizio Sapienza worked in TIM (former Telecom Italia) from 1991, initially as project manager and from 2005 in organization of software quality processes. From 2005 he was team leader in introduction of FP metrics and methodology into Telecom Italia Software Factory and responsible of the set up of production indicators. He graduated in Electronic Engineering and has always been involved in activities related to the software production processes and management both in Italian and multinational companies. Now he works as a freelancer and consultant.