Post M&A Integration Project Management methodology – Waterfall vs. Agile

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    Dominic Ng

    In Project Management world, there are two approach:

    – Waterfall
    – Agile

    According to M&A reference books, most of post M&A integration project are executed based on waterfall methodology.

    Have any companies been trying to use Agile methodology to run post M&A integration project?

    Ryan Dawkins

    Our integrations typically follow a waterfall methodology. We are usually doing large, IT platform transitions which do not allow for MVP launches. We have to have very robust requirement development, full builds, and full integration testing before go-live. This does not mean team cannot deploy agile principals to how the manage and organize their work. They just are not able to deploy incremental valuse.

    Jeff Sewell

    I’d like to introduce the concept of “Agile-Fall.” We use both as the overall M&A integration effort is achieved with traditional program management techniques and methods. The detailed technology integrations absolutely leverages agile methodology. It’s important for the M&A team not to be an advocate of either but rather an advocate of both when they are necessary.

    Nathan Komorowski

    We run mainly as Waterfall from a Project Management view, but our more hands on tech and data integration teams will employ agile methods to help them move through the waterfall tasks. This is a way for those teams to have standing meetings and review sessions on work and allow for structured QA checks as well.

    Gretchen Asher

    I agree with Jeff Sewell and his comment above.

    Chuck Adams

    Agreed with others. AGILE has its place, especially when getting down into the weeds of integration with working groups & teams. However, the higher-level workstreams are usually managed in a waterfall format.

    Eric Kunitake

    As others have mentioned, waterfall indeed seems to be a ‘default’ pm methodology specially at the high level at least in Pharma/Biotech. However, there is absolutely an argument to leverage AGILE methodologies using tools like JIRA to track and manage at a tactical level. I’ve had plenty of clients claim to be hybrid agile but it isn’t a true AGILE as PMs are expected to follow a waterfall methodology. The AGILE part comes from having 3 week sprints (and no backlog to speak of). Being familiar and comfortable with both and knowing when they are appropriate is probably the best position to be in as a PM.

    Nathan Holt

    I think one should worry less about applying an Agile or Waterfall approach and instead start with understanding what are the integration needs. For example, Agile and Waterfall used in “development” projects. Integration activities may or may not involve development. They will however almost certainly benefit from planning, doing, checking and adjusting.

    Matthias Lipp

    Our higher level workstream for our C-Level follow more the waterfall approach. They are more used to this method. For the substream leads we offer their PM style, as long as qualtiy, time and budget is met.

    Magdalena Stadtmann

    Agree with Jeff and Chuck, combining both approaches helps.


    I agree with the above comments, Agile-Fall!!

    Mach Brown

    Waterfall and Agile are two contrasting project management methodologies in software development. Waterfall follows a sequential process, with each phase completed before moving to the next, and emphasizes upfront planning and documentation. Agile, on the other hand, is iterative and adaptive, allowing for continuous development and evolution of requirements through collaboration among cross-functional teams. While Waterfall suits projects with well-defined requirements and minimal changes expected, Agile is favored for its flexibility and ability to accommodate evolving needs.

    Terry Hall

    Using Agile methodologies for post-merger and acquisition integration projects is novel but increasingly considered due to flexibility, adaptability, and iterative nature. Traditionally, as noted, M&A integrations have been managed using the Waterfall methodology due to its structured and sequential approach, which aligns well with the clear, often rigid timelines and milestones typical in M&A scenarios.

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