The corporate world has changed dramatically since the advent of the internet. Traditionally, while smaller businesses tried to retain their local customers, giant-sized companies tried to corner most of the market. Project management methodologies have become essential to how everything functions. This article will examine the difference between the most popular methodologies, Waterfall vs. Agile.
The advancements in technology now let startups or smaller businesses reach out to entirely new segments of customers. Technology has driven this change. At the same time, the use of technology also created a faster-moving and more dynamic environment for businesses.
In the current corporate environment, it is necessary to keep up with the trends to maintain one’s consumer base and destabilize a monopoly. As a result, companies and businesses must remain at the cutting edge of technology to thrive.
As the name suggests, the waterfall model flows like a waterfall through all the project phases. The waterfall was the earliest process model introduced and is very simple and easy to use. It is a sequential development process in which a new phase begins only after the previous phase completes.
This method’s success depends on the work done at the front end. The waterfall method is suited for projects where the objectives are clearly defined from the beginning. Everything, including the UI, user stories, and features, is documented in advance. Thus, the estimated time needed for each requirement is more accurate, and the team can predict the release date with greater accuracy.
This method follows a chronological process and works according to a pre-decided timeline, requirements, etc. In this method, individual teams can function separately and are not required to communicate with each other constantly, except when specific integrations are needed. Industries like construction, IT, and software development regularly use the waterfall model.
Toyota used to work using the waterfall model but later shifted to the lean software development model.
The waterfall project management methodology operates sequentially. However, the project cannot start if the conditions aren’t gathered fully. Beginning the development phase is possible only after the system project ends. Each step has its entry and exit criteria.
A successful waterfall software development project lays heavy emphasis on accuracy. However, the system design wouldn’t reflect the client’s conditions if conditions weren’t rightly proved. A system developed grounded on such a project will not deliver value to the client.
Still, it becomes an expensive error if we find that the conditions were captured inaptly during the development phase. One must go back to the conditions gathering phase. The team must modify every document there. Later, they must correct the project.
To avoid expensive errors found later in the life cycle, waterfall projects mandate strict processes. For example, each phase must produce results in a previously determined manner. For the conditions gathering phase, it could be the condition’s definition. The project document is the outcome of the design phase.
The output of each phase needs review. The subsequent step can start only when the product of the previous stage meets the quality norms. These reviews use checklists and questionnaires assembled over time by learning from earlier systems. Reviewers validate their findings and prioritize them. The project team needs to resolve any issues that come up.
One of the advantages of the waterfall model is that it has a fixed timeline and budget. It allows the project to transcend smoothly without frequent collaborations or follow-ups from the client. Thus, the project managers can easily plan and coordinate with the stakeholders or business partners.
One of the disadvantages of the waterfall approach is that addressing unexpected problems can be difficult and time-consuming. It may require you to go back to the already completed phases. Thus, the rigidity of this approach becomes an issue in this case.
The agile methodology is a software development approach focusing on iterative development. It is a way to manage a project by breaking it down into multiple phases. It involves constant collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams and improvement at every stage. Although the project manager prioritizes the work to be delivered, the team decides how to do the job.
The agile approach focuses on four core values:
This value emphasizes teamwork and collaboration. As software development is a team process, there needs to be proper communication between the team members regarding the methods to be followed and the tools to be used.
Although documentation is essential and guides the team members, the primary focus should be on developing software that works rather than extensive documentation.
Communication with the customers or clients is a crucial aspect of this approach. By staying in constant touch with the customer, the team can know what the customer wants and work accordingly.
The plan should not be rigid. It should be flexible enough to accommodate changes arising during the development process.
Let us now compare the waterfall methodology vs. the agile methods.
|Development process||Divided into distinct phases||Separated into sprints|
|Flexibility||Non-flexible and rigid||Very flexible|
|Projects||One single project||Can be considered a combination of multiple projects|
|Changing requirements||No scope for change in requirements after the project development starts||Due to its flexibility, you can make changes even if the initial planning is done|
|Phases completion||All the project management phases are completed only once.||It is an iterative approach, and the phases may appear more than once.|
|Test plan||Rarely discussed during the test phase||Reviewed after each sprint|
|Suitability||Ideal for projects having definite requirements and no changes expected||Ideal for projects where you expect requirements to change and evolve|
|Development and testing||The testing phase comes after the development phase.||Testing is performed concurrently with the development.|
|Project vs. product mindset||Shows a project mindset and focuses on completing the project||Shows a product mindset and focuses on delivering a quality product to satisfy the end customer|
|Fixed-price scenario||Reduces risk in the firm’s fixed-price contracts by getting a risk agreement at the beginning of the project||May increase stress in fixed-price scenarios|
|Team coordination||Very limited||Highly important|
|Test team involvement||Difficult for the test team to change the requirements||The test team can change the requirements.|
Is agile better than waterfall? Or the other way round? Both agile and waterfall methodologies have their defining advantages and disadvantages. It primarily depends on your project and the project’s requirements.
One can adopt waterfall for a more sequential project, while agile can be adopted for a non-linear project. For more help with the agile and waterfall project management methodologies, you can contact experts at Idea Usher.
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Here are some interesting FAQs about waterfall vs. agile.
The agile methodology focuses on the continuous delivery of development and testing iterations. On the other hand, the waterfall is a linear sequential life cycle model.
Waterfall is preferred when the project has a fixed timeline and budget. Agile is preferred when speed is more important than documentation and method.
The answer to this question depends on the type of development you are undertaking.
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