What is the best method to run a project? Agile or Plan driven (Waterfall)? The research done by Kevin Thompson (CPrime, Inc) helps identify the right methodology to chose for different project types. Here is a quick summary of the research:
Advocates of agile development claim that agile software projects succeed more often than classic plan-driven projects. Unfortunately, attempts to validate this claim statistically are problematic, because “success” is not defined consistently across studies. This paper addresses the question through a mathematical analysis of these projects. We model agile and plan-driven software projects with identical requirements, and show how they are affected by the same set of unanticipated problems. We find that that the agile project provides clear benefits for return-on-investment and risk reduction, compared to the plan-driven project, when uncertainty is high. When uncertainty is low, plan-driven projects are more cost-effective. Finally, we provide criteria for choosing effective process types.
You can dowload the entire white paper at http://www2.cprime.com/How-Agile-Should-Your-Projects-Be