Agile and waterfall models

Agile vs Waterfall: Which One is Better to Use?

Isn’t it hard to just be starting a startup tech business? How much more if you have to deal with terms that seem so alien? What is Agile? What is Waterfall? And when you know, it’s all about deciding which one fits your business the best. Let’s answer a common startup question on Agile vs Waterfall: Which one is better to use?

The first step of any IT project development is planning. It is an important phase to identify the requirements, stakeholders, market, schedule, and, most importantly, the development methodology. This impacts the delivery of the project and structure of the development. This time, we’ll discuss two of the most popular development types. We’ll also talk about how different they are: Agile vs Waterfall.

Agile vs Waterfall

Before everything else, we should know that SDLC has the following major phases: initiating, designing, executing, testing, and deployment. In this case, initiation covers research gathering and analysis whereas designing comprises planning and design. Despite the obvious differences between the two subjects, these phases are present in each one. However, they are arranged differently in the development life cycle. Let’s get to know more about these two.

What is the Waterfall Methodology?

The Waterfall Model is the first widely used methodology in software development. It illustrates a linear and sequential life-cycle model. This means that each phase depends on the completion of the one preceding it. Because of this, the Waterfall Model is mostly referred to as the traditional life-cycle model.

The phases of the Waterfall’s life cycle are as follows: gathering and analysis, system design, development, integration and testing, deployment, and maintenance, in that order. Once you’re in the next phase, it will be very hard to go back to the previous phase. This methodology entails its different share of pros and cons.

Pros of Waterfall Methodology

  • It is simple and easy to use.
  • It is very easy to manage given that each phase is done one at a time.
  • The review process is easily handled.
  • The straightforward approach makes the planning and designing phases fast which make the project delivery fast.
  • Each phase is clearly defined which makes the tasks easier to manage.
  • There is an opportunity to properly document each process and result.
  • This suits milestone-oriented developments.
  • It provides a structure in organizing the team and resources.

Cons of Waterfall Methodology

  • The working product comes later in development. This delays the testing period.
  • It is not ideal for bigger projects.
  • Its dependency traits between each phase make it harder to accommodate change anywhere in the phases.
  • Scope adjustment can be detrimental to the lifespan of the project
  • It is costly to make changes.
  • Measuring project progress is hard within each phase.

When to use Waterfall methodology?

The Waterfall methodology is very ideal for projects with pre-defined requirements. This means that there is almost no window for changes once the development has started. It is also better to use this method when the customer or client interaction is made available per milestone. This method is highly recommended for smaller short-term projects.

image shows comparison between agile and waterfall models

What is Agile?

Agile is a child of incremental and iterative software development methods. While it is not a methodology or a framework, it is a set of practices guided by principles and values related to product development. This emphasizes the fast delivery of products with a complete functionality relative to the features identified at the beginning of each sprint.

Sprints are time frames, usually measured in weeks, with a defined list of the deliverables. These deliverables are determined at the beginning of each sprint and will be reviewed once it ends. They are identified by the customers or product owners based on priority and needs. If a deliverable fails to meet its deadline, it is carried over to the next sprint and re-prioritized. Multiple sprints make up one whole iteration.

Iteration, usually measured in months, is the duration from planning to release points of a project. Usually, there is a minimum viable product for each iteration. For further enhancements, another iteration could follow. Despite its popularity, especially in software today, it has its own positive and negative attributes.

Pros of Agile

  • Agile provides a very realistic approach to software development. This prepares you for the very dynamic world of technology.
  • It promotes teamwork, coordination, and synchronization, enabling a team to be more transparent and dynamic.
  • Demonstrable and testable product can be made available for testing and review even at an earlier phase.
  • It is easy to manage information delivery and communication.
  • Planning is required but with lesser effort.
  • It is easy to adapt to change in Agile.
  • The development offers focus to the customers which means that features are easily validated or revised based on feedback.
  • Agile produces complete yet iterative products. This means that you can start from the most basic features to release and then use the feedback as a factor for further decision-making.
  • Business value is put under the microscope to help in making decisions.

Cons of Agile

  • Agile is not suitable for complex dependencies.
  • It’s hard to avoid windows for risks on maintenance and sustenance.
  • High dependency on customer feedback and satisfaction may be detrimental when the customer is unclear with the requirements.
  • The less priority on documentation may be complex on knowledge transfer for new or future team members.
  • Additional sprints may be needed as buffers when instances that not all features are met.
  • It is not suitable for small projects.
  • Project management is very much needed to keep the team on track.

When can we use Agile?

For most projects nowadays, especially the ones liable to change, Agile is the way to go. If the customer is available, thus becoming a part in monitoring the product vision, practicing the Agile principles is highly recommended.

The best thing about Agile is that it is very accommodating of change. This is useful for bigger projects. Bigger projects can start from small viable products. As each iteration occurs, more and more features can be added, revised, or removed. That said, you can also use Agile when your product is not completely defined from the very beginning.

Which one is better: Agile vs Waterfall?

In this case, one is not better than the other. Each has its own upsides that makes it very effective for certain projects. Our ‘When to use’ sections of these articles prove so. However, for a startup, it may not be easy to identify which way to go. When deciding on Agile vs Waterfall, one can always seek advice and consultation.

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