Project Management / Admins / Architects

Agile vs. Waterfall: Which to Choose for Your Salesforce Projects

By Sébastien Tang

Choosing a project management methodology for any Salesforce implementation is a pivotal decision: Agile or Waterfall? Both methodologies have their merits, but choosing the right one can differentiate a thriving business from one that lags.

However, the choice involves nuance and requires understanding your organization’s needs, culture, and goals. This guide will delve into both Agile and Waterfall methodologies, providing the insights needed to make an informed decision.


Agile Methodology (Focus on Scrum)

Agile approaches project management as a flexible and iterative process. This is a framework that you may have heard of before, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, etc.

For this guide, we’ll focus on the most famous one: Scrum.

Scrum emphasizes collaboration and customer feedback through short, frequent changes. This ensures that the project aligns with customer needs.

In the context of a Salesforce implementation, Scrum allows for continuous adaptation and improvement, making it suitable for projects that require frequent changes and updates.

Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall approaches projects linearly and sequentially. This methodology follows a rigid structure where each phase must be completed before the next begins.

In a Salesforce implementation, Waterfall can benefit projects with well-defined requirements and a clear path to completion. However, it may not be as adaptable to changes as Scrum.

By understanding these methodologies and Salesforce’s pivotal role in modern business, decision-makers can make informed choices that align with their organization’s needs, culture, and goals.

The choice between Scrum and Waterfall can significantly impact the success of a Salesforce implementation, reflecting the high-status, successful, and well-established expertise required to navigate these complex decisions.

Agile (Scrum) Methodology in Salesforce Implementations

Scrum stands out as the most renowned framework in the vast landscape of Agile methodologies. It’s a collaborative approach emphasizing iterative progress, flexibility, and customer feedback. When applied to Salesforce implementation, Scrum can be a game-changer.

Benefits of Using Agile (Scrum) for Salesforce Implementation

  • Iterative development: Scrum’s sprint-based approach allows for continuous improvement and adaptation. For example, a company can launch a Salesforce feature, gather user feedback, and make immediate enhancements.
  • Collaboration and transparency: Scrum fosters a culture of teamwork and open communication, ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned with the project’s goals.
  • Customer-centric: By focusing on customer feedback, Agile ensures that the Salesforce implementation is tailored to the actual needs of the users, enhancing satisfaction and ROI.

Potential Challenges (and their Solutions)

  • Complexity: Managing a Scrum project requires expertise and an understanding of the framework. It can be overcome by investing in proper training and hiring experienced Scrum Masters.
  • Alignment with business goals: Ensuring the Agile process aligns with the overall business strategy can be challenging. Regular communication, clear documentation, and stakeholder involvement can mitigate this issue.

Agile (particularly Scrum) offers a dynamic and responsive approach in the context of Salesforce implementation. It aligns with the modern business ethos of adaptability and customer-centricity.

However, it requires a well-thought-out strategy and skilled professionals to execute effectively. Successful organizations recognize this and invest the right resources to leverage Agile’s full potential in their Salesforce endeavors.

Waterfall Methodology in Salesforce Implementations

Understanding Waterfall

The Waterfall model is a traditional approach in project management, characterized by its linear and sequential phases. Each phase depends on the deliverables of the preceding one, forming a structure that flows downwards like a waterfall.

The model consists of the following stages:

  • Requirements: Gathering and documenting the requirements for the project.
  • Design: Creating a detailed design of the system.
  • Implementation: Building the actual system based on the design.
  • Testing: Thoroughly testing the system to ensure it meets the requirements.
  • Deployment: Implementing the system into the production environment.
  • Maintenance: Ongoing support and maintenance of the system.

Benefits of Using Waterfall for Salesforce Implementation

  • Structured approach: Waterfall’s linear progression provides easily identifiable milestones.
  • Emphasis on documentation: Comprehensive documentation at each stage.
  • Early cost reduction: Identifying problems in the early stages.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

  • Rigidity: Difficulties in accommodating changes. Solution: Modified waterfall models (such as the Sashimi Model or Water-Scrum-Fall Model)
  • Late testing: Testing only at the end of the process. Solution: Implementing additional steps and feedback loops.

In the context of Salesforce implementation, the Waterfall methodology offers a highly structured approach that emphasizes thorough documentation and planning. Its clear, step-by-step progression aligns well with the needs of high-status, successful, and well-established organizations, reflecting a competent and expensive choice for Salesforce implementation.

Comparative Analysis: Agile vs. Waterfall

  • Agile methodology has flexibility at its core.
  • Waterfall methodology enables structured precision.

Agile Methodology: Flexibility at its Core

Agile methodology, particularly the Scrum framework, is renowned for its adaptability and responsiveness.

In the context of Salesforce implementation, Agile encourages frequent stakeholder interaction and allows the team to work simultaneously on different project phases. This fluid approach welcomes changes even late, making it suitable for projects where outcomes may evolve.

  • Benefits: High flexibility, short-term deadlines, and continuous feedback.
  • Challenges: Requires a self-directed and collaborative team. Overcoming this demands strong leadership and clear communication.

Waterfall Methodology: Structured Precision

Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach, where each phase must be completed before moving to the next. In Salesforce implementation, Waterfall’s clarity and structure are ideal when the end goal is well-defined.

  • Steps: Requirements, design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
  • Benefits: Clear expectations, defined deliverables, and less flexibility in budget and timeline.
  • Challenges: Lack of flexibility can lead to difficulties in adapting to changes. Mitigation involves thorough planning and precise documentation.

Side-by-Side Comparison

  • Agile: Suited for fast-moving projects, allows for experimentation and adaptation.
  • Waterfall: Best for projects with strict regulations, clear vision, and specific requirements.

Factors to Consider

  • Project requirements: Is flexibility or strict adherence to requirements more critical?
  • Stakeholder involvement: Agile involves stakeholders closely, while Waterfall is more hands-off.
  • Budget and timeline: Waterfall’s budget is less flexible, while Agile allows for changes as the project develops.

Situational Examples

  • For rapid innovation: Agile’s adaptability makes it preferable for projects requiring rapid innovation and continuous feedback.
  • For regulatory compliance: Waterfall’s structured approach suits projects that must meet strict regulations, such as in the aerospace industry.

In the ever-changing landscape of Salesforce implementations, choosing between Agile and Waterfall methodologies is not a one-size-fits-all decision. It requires a nuanced understanding of the project’s goals, stakeholders’ expectations, and the organization’s culture.

By weighing both methodologies’ characteristics, benefits, and challenges, decision-makers can align their approach with the unique demands of their Salesforce implementation – ensuring a successful, well-executed project that resonates with the bright image they wish to portray.


The journey through Salesforce implementation is complex and nuanced, where the choice of methodology can significantly impact the project’s success. With its flexibility and adaptability, Agile offers a dynamic approach, while Waterfall’s structured precision provides a clear path for well-defined projects.

Decision-makers are encouraged to carefully weigh the characteristics of both methodologies, aligning them with their organization’s unique needs, culture, and project goals. Choose wisely, and let your methodology be a testament to your excellence.

Your experiences with Agile and Waterfall in Salesforce implementation are valuable insights. Share them in the comments below, and let’s learn together.

The Author

Sébastien Tang

A seasoned project manager and Salesforce expert, he has made his mark globally, with experiences spanning multinational corporations like EY, TotalEnergies, Cognizant, Sanofi, Disneyland, and Lacoste.

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