Agile Vs Waterfall- Which One is Better for Your Project?

agile vs waterfall

Introduction

With the increasing competition and emergence of the latest technologies, we witness the launch of a wide array of mobile and web applications. Every day, new apps take their place in play stores, facilitating our lives in numerous ways.

However, when we speak about these applications, the core of their development lies with those hardworking programmers and developers of software companies. If we talk about these organizations, they develop a variety of products during their course of development. It is inevitably significant for programmers to choose the right technology for app development. 

Now, when speaking about technologies, Agile and Waterfall have become a significant part of this discussion. There have been debates regarding which of these two is better for development. However, the use of these technologies widely depends on your project requirements.

Let us take a look at both these technologies and compare them before taking the plunge.

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What is Waterfall Methodology?

Waterfall technology has a linear and structured approach to project management. Therefore, it is also known as a linear sequential lifecycle model. It consists of sequential steps in its Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).

The Waterfall model is comprised of phases, wherein it is mandatory to complete each before starting the next one. It is because the output of the first phase will become the input for the next one. It has a direct flow, and there is no overlap. 

This methodology is easy to understand, measure and execute, which is beneficial for programmers during the development process. However, Waterfall is not suitable for all projects. One of the drawbacks of this technology is that it can be slow and doesn’t allow for error correction or feedback. 

When to Use Waterfall?

When you have everything prioritized and strategized for a project, the waterfall approach is ideal. It means once you define every stage of the product development, there is no scope for changes. Moreover, you can move to the next phase of the development only when you are done with the previous one.

For example, when you construct a building, you need to start with the foundation and then the floors. Once the floors of the building are developed, you cannot make any changes to the foundation or rebuild them, which will cost you more. This instance of constructing a building shows the waterfall methodology, wherein the plan is well-defined in advance and you are bound by what is strategized in the plan.

Benefits of Waterfall

There are remarkable reasons programmers prefer to use Waterfall for their development projects. Let us take a look at these benefits.

• The waterfall is a distinct methodology that businesses use in all their verticals. Moreover, it is a tried and proved practice, which also happens to be clear and hassle-free.

• The technology offers the privilege to developers to focus more on writing codes and test cases. It means that they do not have to deal with stakeholders and project requirements.

• The methodology explains the processes at the beginning itself. As a result, you have everything with you beforehand, such as milestone strategies, start & end dates, and tracking the process.

• As the Waterfall methodology defines every stage of the project in advance and in detail, it becomes easier to know what all things will be delivered and at what time. Moreover, it also enables the team to have all project requirements documented and approved well in advance before the development takes place.

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Drawbacks of Waterfall

Though Waterfall offers impactful benefits, it also has certain drawbacks. They are mentioned below.

• Despite the remarkable advantages of Waterfall, it can be expensive. Even when the stakeholders know everything in advance, it may happen that they might have forgotten to consider an important matter related to the product. Therefore, making changes after the project completion becomes expensive.

• It takes a lot of effort to make the documentation of the project. However, it is essential to ensure that all requirements are fully documented and approved before the development process begins.

• When you have the requirements defined at the beginning itself, you do not have room for innovation. Moreover, when the owner knows the defined requirements, they might take undue advantage of the opportunities they might see in the development stage to alter the requirements and get the expected solution.

• It is human nature that people interpret things differently. The same is with the interpretation of requirements. It means that different teams can understand requirements according to their level of understanding. As a result, it directly affects the association between the owner and the development team when the interpretation goes wrong.

Read More: Dual Track Agile: The Product Development Methodology Explained!

What is an Agile Framework?

When using Agile methodology, the team usually involves around 9 members who are self-organized and follow a cross-functional approach. Moreover, it also comprises iterations, wherein functional code from each sprint is connected with the previous iteration.

At the end of each phase, the team shows a demonstration to stakeholders for their feedback. As a result, they can easily make changes during the software development course. Since the team has the advantage of having feedback at the end of each sprint, they can adjust the product roadmap during the development lifespan to make sure that the functionality meets user expectations.

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When to Use Agile?

When you are dealing with a project with a specific deadline, the agile process is ideal. In this case, you need to plan the scope and determine the resources before taking the plunge.

Software development can be the best example of this methodology as it occurs in different stages (sprints). Other examples can be publication and marketing content. In all these instances, you can see one thing common, and that is working in sprints.

The agile approach consists of precise deadlines and resources, wherein team members and scrum leaders prioritize the sprints and their period. Moreover, the scrum master manages different scrum boards and excess lists for various kinds of resources.

Benefits of Agile

The agile approach offers significant benefits over traditional software development methodologies. Let us take a look at these advantages.

• Agile encourages and embraces learning, which means that the team can expand their skills while building iterations. Also, it allows them to correct and bring improvement throughout the project development. Sprint demonstrations make sure that the team gives feedback on improving the delivery process of the software more quickly with enhanced quality.

• Flexibility is the USP of the agile methodology, which means you can easily adjust project requirements and priorities throughout the project lifespan. As a result, you can effectively meet stakeholders’ requirements at any point in time during the development.

• Agile offers room for creativity. It means when the product features are not defined in advance, the agile approach works effectively. As a result, product owners can easily make changes to their priorities and requirements even during the development process to get the expected output.

• Agile offers a cross-functional approach to the team, wherein the members work as a unit to develop the product. Moreover, there is no manager in the team, which makes them independent in the management. As a result, they can work according to their mindset and deliver their work. All of this empowers the team in every way.

• With the agile methodology, you can increase the time to market. Moreover, it allows you to focus on what is more essential rather than focusing only on documentation. Thus, the team can spend more on the development and delivery of the product with respective iteration.

Drawbacks of Agile

• The Agile methodology doesn’t support deliverable documentation, which means that it is not suitable for all projects. For example, in healthcare, documentation holds a significant place.

• As this approach offers the flexibility of making changes at every stage of the development process, the timeframe and output are less predictable. Therefore, it is a little difficult for the product owner to predict the delivery time and scope of the product.

• Team members need to have trust among themselves though it takes time to build trust, especially when using agile for the first time. Therefore, project managers and other members need to work unitedly and closely.

• With the agile approach, the product owner needs to participate in the project. He needs to invest his time to make sure that the team has the required information to develop the product.

• Agile imposes on re-work due to its functionality of making changes at every required stage of development. When you keep on making changes in the development process, it also changes the code.

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Agile or Waterfall?

So, the question remains which technology you should choose for your project development. The answer to this is simple. As we discussed above, both of the methodologies have their pros and cons in accordance with the project requirements.

When you are determined to execute your product development with a well-defined strategy related to each stage with no changes required, the waterfall approach is the ideal choice. However, when you want to have the flexibility of making changes as and when required, the agile methodology is the right choice.

You should make the right choice of methodology that best suits your project requirements considering the pros and cons of both.

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