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Regulatory Reporting : Waterfall or Agile

We all know that we will lot of new regulations coming today and tomorrow. Thus that means financial institutions even need to generate so many new reports also. Thus I feel it will good topic to discuss with so many new reports coming today or tomorrow what is the best approach/methodology we should follow to build them

Obvious default choice is Waterfall which follows stage by stage approach. It attempts to “freeze the requirements” after the blueprints are designed.  As we can imagine, this is not reality especially for regulatory reporting.  The later you catch a requirements problem, the more expensive it is to fix.

In some cases, it is impossible to fix.

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

1. Waterfall follows linear and sequential approach and thus it easier to plan and track

2. Does not require constant support from business users as their involvement is only during UAT

3. Less overhead effort is required for monitoring and control activities

Disadvantage of Waterfall Methodology

1. Heavy workload during design/development stage especially if reports are many

2. Heavy workload during UAT as a significant number of reports needs to be tested together, resulting in higher number of issues to be managed

3. Constraints around user availability (e.g. black out period) could lead to significant delays in go live

4. High probability that any issues with parent reports could impact subsidiary reports, leading to re-work in multiple reports for same issue

5. Last stage is generally very critical during waterfall and thus any issues identified later are difficult to manage

6. Issues identified during UAT are costly to fix, and could result in schedule slippages for major changes

7. Easier to manage finite, small number of reports in each Sprint


Agile Method does not attempt to “nail and freeze the requirements” all up front at one time. It allow end users and stakeholders to visualize their requirements faster and catch errors earlier in the development process. It assumes that the requirements will evolve and change as the customer begins to visualize their own requirements

Advantages of Agile Methodology

1. Increase team collaboration due to continuous interaction among project team

2. Improved team morale due to less intensive testing phases

3. Increase utilization of business users during each sprint

4. Critical issues can be identified/resolved upfront

5. Lesser number of issues in later Sprints, as build of subsidiary reports were based on learning from issues in parent reports

6. Major Change Requests could be accommodated within project schedule without impacting critical path

7. Each deliverable is planned and managed independent of other deliverables, minimizing impact of any slippages


Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

1. Needs constant support from business user representative as there are continuous analysis and testing cycles

2. More management effort is required for monitoring and control activities


I guess we cannot deny this that regulatory reports are prone to changes during project lifecycle. Changes can be driven due to external factors or manual process involved during the generation of the reports. Thus I feel Agile Methodology will be perfect when the requirements are changing over SDLC. Also agile methodologies are not perfect, but they are three times more successful than traditional waterfall methodologies

Thus agile approach is best for regulatory related changes since they are dynamic and generally iterative


Disclosure : I wrote this article myself and it express my own opinion


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Amit Agrawal

Amit Agrawal


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13 Mar 2010



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Financial Services Regulation

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