Avalanche model

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The Avalanche model is a Software Engineering project management anti-pattern, it is a combination of a sequential process such as the Waterfall model and Agile software development methodologies. It is the result of a Project Manager's attempt to apply Agile techniques to a project, when all they really understand or were taught was a sequential development cycle. Instead of breaking the project into parts that each sequentially go through the phases of development, the entire project inhabits all phases of development simultaneously. Usually the result of attempting to use the Avalanche model is mass confusion, wasted effort, and a product that cannot meet the specifications of any requirements document.



Avalanche Model Diagram - Quantum Superposition state

Most software development life cycles follow a general flow such as analysis, design, development, QA and so on. The avalanche lifecycle contains the same processes, but rather than having a linear flow, these processes exist in a sort of superposition wherein all the processes happen at the same time.


Manager's Point of View[edit]

The development cycle from the manager's point of view is that of Agile, or mini Waterfalls back to back. It should provide flexibility and allow development to start while requirements are still coming in, so total time frame of the project can be compressed.


Avalanche could almost be seen as Agile without scrums or any solid communication, or overlapping Waterfalls. It is characterized by lack of communication between stages/departments, which can almost work in waterfall, where each stage doesn't start until the previous one is completed; however with each stage/department rapidly iterating and not communicating/propagating changes and the project generally being in all stages of development at the same time (design and development simultaneously), "down stream" teams usually end up spending lots of time working on removed features or just going in the wrong direction with lack of guidance. It is fairly demoralizing and can lead to unmotivated teams.

The main features of note in the Avalanche model are the lack of communication and understanding.

The Avalanche model can be compared to seagull management.

Other Names[edit]

Many developers and project managers facetiously use the portmanteaus waterfail and fragile to describe the avalanche lifecycle.

See also[edit]