Iterative Waterfall is not Scrum!

One of the pitfalls when starting to use Scrum occurs when most of the team has a waterfall background. There is a possibility that the team starts developing in an iterative waterfall way, instead of really using Scrum. The risk is high because it’s easy to do what you already did and use the knowledge that you already have. The problem about this is that teams who develop in an iterative waterfall way actually think they’re correctly implementing Agile development.

Unaware of the mistake

Sometimes teams who use iterative waterfall don’t notice what they’re doing wrong. That is mainly because they camouflage all their actions in Scrum terminology. They create user stories, but rather than treating them as a short description which is open for change, they create an in-depth specification document that contains far too much information and detail. Not only does this story now contain far too much information, it also takes a lot of time to fill it with all the unnecessary information (say, 1 sprint?).

So, what’s next, another sprint for designing, a sprint for developing and a sprint for testing? Keep it simple! Keep your designs to a minimum, start developing early and be open for adaptations to the specifications and design, even late in development.

User story size

You should keep one thing in mind when starting to work on user stories which seem to require a lot of time for specification, design and development. Is this really a single user story or can it be cut into multiple stories?

A user story should be as small as possible while it’s still adding useful functionality to the product. So if you have a user story that describes a web page where users can register, login and manage some data online. This is a perfect description of an Epic Story lower down the Backlog, but for now you should keep it simple. Try to split this into multiple user stories; registration, login and data management are all different things that all add value to the product.


Are you and your team developing in an Agile way, or are you actually just doing an iterative waterfall? If you really believe that an iterative waterfall is the best way, go for it, as long as you know why you’re doing it and do it consciously.

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