Agile vs Waterfall

One of the first decisions you need to make before starting a project implementation is: which development methodology should I use? There are different approaches to the software development process. Two of the most popular methods are Waterfall and Agile.

What is Waterfall?

Waterfall is a linear approach to software development. That means that project stages are executed sequentially, and no stage can begin before the previous one is finished. You receive your completed project, fully developed and tested, at the very end of the process.

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Pros of Waterfall methodology:

  • Simple and easy to understand and use
  • Easy to manage due to the rigidity of the model
  • Phases are processed and completed one at a time
  • Works well for smaller projects where requirements are very well understood

Cons of Waterfall methodology:

  • You cannot go back a step; if the design phase has gone wrong, things can get very complicated in the implementation phase
  • High amounts of risk and uncertainty
  • Not a good model for complex and object-oriented projects
  • Poor model for long and on-going projects
  • Not suitable for the projects where requirements are at a moderate to high risk of changing

What is Agile?

Agile development, as opposed to waterfall, focuses on building software iteratively. The project is divided into small modules and delivered in weekly or monthly sprints. During each sprint, a certain functional set of features is developed, tested, and delivered to you for evaluation. This approach emphasizes rapid delivery.

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Pros of Agile methodology:

  • Value is added every sprint
  • Easier to add features that are up-to-date with the latest industry developments
  • Project priorities are set before every sprint and evaluated after each sprint
  • Customer feedback is allowed and will contribute to the final end product
  • High level of customer involvement (strong sense of ownership)
  • Short time to market: quickly produce a basic version of working software
  • Transparency is high

Cons of Agile methodology:

  • Projects can run longer than anticipated
  • Requires high level commitment of time and energy from developers
  • Expensive

What can we conclude from all this? Both methodologies have their own strengths and weaknesses. The choice of methodology really depends on the goals you want to achieve. The key to deciding which is right for you comes down to the context of the project. Is it going to be changing rapidly? If so, choose Agile. Do you know exactly what you need? Good. Then maybe Waterfall is the better option. Or better yet? Consider taking aspects of both methodologies and combining them in order to make the best possible software development process for your project.

Do you use the Waterfall or Agile methodology? Why? Have you ever tried combining the two? How did that work out? Please, tell us below.