How Using Agile Instead of Waterfall Impacts your Project


Guidewire Software has completed more than 100 mission-critical projects using the agile methodology in our work with customers around the world. In 2004, a colleague at Guidewire, John Babcock and I stood together in a large insurance company in the United States and the company asked us to show them how to implement Guidewire ClaimCenter using the agile methodology. As is normal for me, I said the first thing that came to mind, which was, “This will be really hard, are you sure that you want to try this on our project?” The answer was yes, we want to do this. So John and I put our thinking caps on and asked ourselves, “How the heck are we going to deliver using an agile approach since both of us had only delivered waterfall projects up until that point?" Here's a video clip that brings this story to life.

Watch the Birth of Agile video

I can tell you, a short eight years later, that this was the incubator event that would set the tone for how Guidewire delivers value to customers through agile project delivery. Let me share some thoughts about Guidewire Agile.

Thoughts about Guidewire Agile:

When agile is embraced it allows business and technology folks to align, focus on a result and maximize energy and effort to achieve that result. I bet as a reader you say that makes good sense, isn’t that how every project is done? The bottom line is, an agile project will identify an issue as it is formulating and if you know how to “Listen to the Project”, the project will actually ask for help as we discuss in this video clip:

Watch Guidewire Honesty Video

And with agile it does so frequently and at a time when big issues can be avoided. The other major benefit of an agile project is that the stakeholders can see the solution as it is being constructed. This has two major benefits: The team gains momentum throughout the project and with momentum comes success! The stakeholders get to help the team make frequent but small corrections which help align to the business goals. Many people look at agile and think about chaos or free-spirited efforts that cannot be controlled. For people who do not understand the concepts, what is actually a very orderly process can appear chaotic.The truth is that agile enables a transparent effort which is able to constantly adjust itself for better alignment with business goals. I cannot imagine taking on a major initiative without using agile.