A: IN THE CASE OF WELL-UNDERSTOOD FRONT-END REQUIREMENTS THAT DO NOT CHANGE, WATERFALL IS AN APPROPRIATE METHODOLOGY. When requirements change frequently, which tends to be the case in an R&D organization, iterative methods are superior. A best practice is to consider a toolbox of methodologies that are each able to take on different dimensions of requirements variability, architectural clarity, progress transparency, course-correction likelihood, and risk management. Process, however, is only one part of the equation. In considering how best to deploy life cycle methodologies, one should also consider team capabilities, culture, technologies, and leadership. I recommend reading Steve McConnell’s More Effective Agile, which can help you navigate the practical and critical dimensions of bringing agile approaches to life in your organization.
JOHN REYNDERS is VP, R&D strategy, program management, and data science at Alexion.