Thriving with FR-Agile





By Chaitali Chheda

Texas, USA


Agile is one of the most popular methodologies throughout the technology industry in the current times. It has gained prominence in the last decade mainly due to faster time-to-market, increase in the demand of nimble development of products and its promise of better utilization of people on a project team.

Scrum is one of the agile frameworks that is most popularly used for managing complex work in the software industry. The Agile Manifesto encompasses twelve key principles that are its defining principles. While most of the newer businesses build their corporate culture to adapt to Agile, it is impossible for the older corporations to completely re-structure their corporations to fully transform.

This paper will supply its audience with an insight into executing strategic, innovative projects when Agile and Waterfall do not work. The author provides an alternate methodology that combines the features of Waterfall and Agile, called FR-Agile (Fitted Requisite Agile). The suggested audience is the Project Management community. However, anyone connected to Information Technology (IT), particularly those using Agile in their current roles will benefit from this information.

We will presume that the audience is familiar with Agile and Waterfall (Phase-Gate approach).

The Waterfall or Phase-Gate Approach

The Phase-Gate approach has been used since the 1940s in the manufacturing industry. The Waterfall approach is its slight variant that was originally defined by Winston W. Royce in the 1970s. It divides work into stages or phases like Initiation, Planning, Design, Execution, Testing, and Closure. Deliverables from every stage are reviewed and approved prior to the start of the next stage. It was adopted in technology computing mainly to complement the way we worked with computers. Before the evolution of PC computing, writing and testing code was done through punch cards. The most efficient way to save costs was to ensure completion of most of the planning and scoping activities upfront. This was believed to result in lesser rework, lesser usage of the punch cards, thereby saving capital and labor.

A similar mindset carried forward up until the 1980s when quality of software became a key denominator to distinguish the large number of global software exporting establishments.

With the Quality Management System (QMS) principles gaining popularity, ISO first published its ISO 9001 standard in 1987 and several revisions until 2015. CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) was introduced around the same time in 1987, with focus to provide guidance for developing and improving processes to meet the business goals of an organization.

At the core of these quality and performance principles, was the fundamental thought that active leadership engagement was required at all levels of an organization’s development and change processes. It led to an increased mandate of leadership approvals from all stakeholders at every stage, even if they were not actively involved in the day-to-day activities. As the software industry adopted these standards, it solidified their adoption of the Waterfall approach that closely aligned with these principles by facilitating a discrete approach of managing projects through a system of interconnected stages (Initiation, Planning, Design, Execution, Testing, Closure) with gates at the end and start of the subsequent stage. Approvals were enforced at every gate to ensure that the project could progress to its next stage without having to redo any activity from the previous. In the event a phase needed rework due to a change in the customer’s priorities, the project would require a considerable amount of change requests with approvals, resulting in re-baselining. The team would then work to meet the new baseline. The result was not just an addition to the planned schedule and budget, it also imposed excessive restrictions on innovation and flexibility. In a bigger picture, more workforce was leaning towards ‘a process-compliant mindset’, leaving behind any scope for creativity.


To read entire paper, click here

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 14th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2022.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Chheda, C. D. (2022). Thriving with FR-Agile (Fitted-Requisite-Agile); presented at the 14th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2022; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Chheda-Thriving-with-FR-Agile.pdf

About the Author

Chaitali Chheda

North Texas, USA


Chaitali Dinesh Chheda is a technology leader and author with experience in technology, management, financial services and coaching. In her 15-year career, she has led, trained and managed individuals and programs in her corporate role as well as independently. She’s presenting at the UTD Symposium for the third time. Her paper from 2019 was published in the PM World Journal in September of the same year. Apart from technology consulting, she enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, tennis, coaching the young and exploring new opportunities. She is based in the Dallas / Fort-worth metroplex in the United States.

She can be contacted at chaitalichheda@gmail.com