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Agile HR is the movement to learn from and use "Agile" and "Lean" techniques and methodologies that have changed the way that 'startups' function (increasing the speed and results) while reducing the risk that people are working on the wrong thing (decreasing risk). Right now, HR is stuck in a "waterfall" methodology (like software was in the 70's and 80's). "Agile HR" is intended to take the lessons learned from the transformation in high tech startups and apply that to HR. It takes many of the lessons from Agile software development but with the realization that there is also the need for a more static framework (for compliance and legal) that HR also needs.

More on Agile from Wikipedia

WATERFALL vs. AGILE METHODOLOGY What is the difference between Waterfall vs. Agile development methodologies? Here's a little background on both.


A classically linear and sequential approach, each waterfall stage is assigned to a separate team to ensure greater project and deadline control, important for on-time project delivery. A linear approach means a stage by stage approach for product building, e.g.

  1. The project team first analyses, then determining and prioritizing business requirements / needs.
  2. Next, in the design phase business requirements are translated into desired solutions, and a decision taken about what needs to be done.
  3. Once processes are defined and planned, implementation takes place.
  4. The next stage of data conversion evolves into a full implementation.
  5. The last and final stage involves evaluation and maintenance, with the latter ensuring everything runs smoothly.

However, since it is impossible to plan for all future needs and changes, it means if it doesn't work, you have to go right back to the beginning and start developing new system or process, all over again. The effectiveness can't be determined until the entire system is set up and running. That means that the response time is very low and the risk is very high. That’s Waterfall for you! Now, as for minimal risk Agile, it is a low over-head method that emphasizes delivery of results rather than processes. Working in cycles i.e. a week, a month, etc., project priorities are re-evaluated and at the end of each cycle with the expectation that they will change at every cycle. This means that you're constantly learning and moving your development. The response time is high and the risk is much lower. Four principles that constitute Agile methods are:

  1. The reigning supreme of individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Effective working systems over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Transfer of knowledge over filed paperwork.
  4. Responding to change over mindless adherence to an existing plan. 

There are reasons to support both the waterfall and agile methods, however, a closer look clarifies why many software firms make the more appropriate choice of employing Agile methodology.

Once a stage is completed in the Waterfall method, there is no going back, since processes designed and implemented under the waterfall method is hard to change according to time and user needs. The problem can only be fixed by going back and designing an entirely new system, a very costly and inefficient method. Whereas, Agile methods allows changes to be made easily.

Another Agile method advantage is one has a working product at the end of each stage. This ensures problems are caught and eliminated in the development cycle.

Agile methods allow for specification changes as per end-user’s requirements, spelling customer satisfaction. As already mentioned, this is not possible when the waterfall method is employed, since any changes to be made means the project has to be started all over again. However, both methods do allow for a sort of departmentalization e.g. in waterfall departmentalization is done at each stage. As for Agile, each coding module can be delegated to separate groups. This allows for several parts of the project to be done at the same time, though departmentalization is more effectively used in Agile methodologies.

In conclusion, though on the plus side, waterfall’s defined stages allow for thorough planning, especially for logical design, implementation and deployment of issues around compliance and legal requirements. Agile methodology is a sound choice for HR projects where there's human interaction and the need for responsive feedback.

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