Waterfall vs. Agile: Must Know Differences to Choose the Best Development Methodology
The Agile method and the Waterfall model (also called the “traditional method”) are two development methodologies. Agile uses an iterative approach, while the Waterfall model is sequential.
Managing a project is essential for its success by any software development company in the IT world. Waterfall or Agile? These two methods each have advantages and disadvantages. What type of management should you choose? This decision will be taken sternly because it will impact the team, the project, and the interactions with the end customer. Today, we bring you behind the scenes of the two primary project management methods most used today. Between Waterfall versus Agile methodologies, we help you choose your side.
The Waterfall method is considered the traditional project management method. As its name suggests, it works on a cascade system: one sequence is developed after another until the final product is delivered to the customer after several months of development.
The Agile mode has taken off in recent years. It is now preferred by development teams, especially in startups. It has many advantages, including lower production costs and shorter development time.
In this blog, we will discuss the differences between the Agile and Waterfall methods, focusing on their respective advantages and disadvantages.
The difficulties encountered with the Waterfall method
The main problem encountered in project management with the Waterfall method is precisely the logic of its operation. Indeed, in a sequential process, each step depends on the previous ones, making a Waterfall design very rigid.
Over a development period of several months, the vision of the project can significantly evolve, or even the needs change. However, in the web and IT, there is a strong need for responsiveness and flexibility linked to the economic structure of the market and its scalability.
As the delivery occurs at the end of the project, the final product may need to be in line with the customer’s expectations. In this case, the adjustments will require significant modifications impacting each development sequence and the budget!
- Proven model
- Effective on small projects of a few weeks of development
- Clear specifications and budget
- Scrupulous respect for the specifications
- Little or no room for the unexpected
- Rigidity in the face of change
- Risk of phase shift between the time of the analysis of the need and the final delivery
- Expensive post-delivery adjustment
Agile methods, flexibility within product design
The Agile philosophy comes in different methods, the most popular of which are Scrum and Lean (Kanban method).
We recognize the Agile methodology by its operation:
- Feature planning and prioritization
- Iteration (sprint planning, sprint, scrum)
- Delivery (or sprint review meeting)
- The new iteration
Each iteration represents a short development cycle of a maximum of a few weeks. This way of working makes it possible, at the end of each sprint, to reassess priorities and consider improvements more quickly. This is an incremental approach.
This way of managing product development makes it possible to solicit the end customer much earlier, who will work jointly with the team on the improvements of the functionalities. This methodology leaves more room for communication. The different parties of the project are involved in the design, which reduces the risk of a phase shift between the service provider and the client.
In addition, the modifications are less expensive and less time-consuming. Each iteration being independent, going back to a feature will not require completely redesigning the project, contrary to what we have seen with the Waterfall method.
The risks of designing in Agile mode
As we have seen, the Agile method is much more flexible than the Waterfall method, but what is its strength can also be its weakness. Indeed, with the Agile methodology, we can end up with a completely different final product than initially planned.
In addition, the methodology requires the multiplication of test and acceptance sessions. As a result, each modification will be accompanied by new tests that can bring bugs that must be solved, lengthening the iteration.
The Agile method is, therefore, less suitable than the Waterfall method for a project that already includes a precise vision of the final product. The advantage of using the incremental mode for this type of project could be higher and, on the contrary, risks leading to losing sight of the final objectives.
Agile methodology advantages:
- Reduced production costs
- Shorter development time (iterations)
- Better communication with the customer
- Active exchanges within the development teams
- Suitable for fast-moving fields
Agile methods disadvantages:
- Risk of mismatch between the objective and the final product
- Risk of multiplication of sprints
- Lots of time to spend on debugging
Which approach to choose for your project?
Both the Agile method and the Waterfall method have their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the choice depends significantly on the nature of the project and the market in which it will evolve.
A project already structured on a stable market does not necessarily have any interest in being carried out in Agile mode and will benefit much better from the organization and structure of the Waterfall methods.
On the contrary, a project that requires faster development to be placed on a market subject to many changes will have much to gain from being included in the Agile development philosophy. Such a project should take advantage of the forces of agility because speed and flexibility are essential for success in this market.
This is why the Agile mode is more widely preferred in the development and IT worlds. However, these two areas are under significant pressure due to the constant changes they are subject to and the intense competition that dominates the market.
In addition, the popularization of many front-end and back-end development frameworks is ideally in line with the Agile trend. Open Source enables this agility by making it possible to deploy more adaptable, easy-to-maintain, and affordable applications and software.
To remain effective in a constantly changing environment, you must know how to adapt and be reactive. Rigidity must give way to flexibility. Today’s IT teams are flexible, agile, curious, and never rest on their laurels. Your open-mindedness and your ability to adapt will be critical elements in managing a project masterfully.
Agile model versus Waterfall: choose the method that suits your project
Choosing between Agile and Waterfall models doesn’t have to be complicated. With us, the adaptable project management platform, you can select and deploy the project management method to help you achieve your goals.
The Agile philosophy corresponds to the method that will allow you to always be in tune with the market and the customer and be one step ahead of the competition. However, the Waterfall method can also take on its whole meaning on projects with a stable vision and already established processes.It’s up to you to adapt your working method on a case-by-case basis!