Agile vs. waterfall
Choosing between Waterfall and Agile methodologies depends on project needs; Agile offers flexibility and continuous input, while Waterfall suits well-defined, stable projects. Hybrid approaches can offer a balance of both.
When looking for a software development company whom you would like to cooperate with, it is essential to go through their portfolio and read customer reviews to establish whether you will be able to build a strong relationship and communicate efficiently, which ensures the success of the project. It is also essential to determine which project management methodologies the organisation uses. This way, you can be sure their approach suits your requirements. Most companies follow the two most popular project management methodologies, which are Waterfall and Agile. Which one will work better for the development of your software?
What is project management methodology
Project management methodology is a framework of all of the processes involved in your project. Put simply, it is a way of organising the work of software development, which includes planning, executing, testing and closing the project. Choosing a specific approach upfront allows everyone to quickly adapt to the given workflow and thus boost efficiency.
Whether a project management methodology used by a software development company will suit your project depends on the size and complexity of the latter. What should also influence your decision is the expected duration of the development and how deeply you are willing to get involved in the project.
What is the Waterfall methodology
Rather classical, the waterfall methodology is a linear and plan-driven approach which assumes that the software development would be completed sequentially, that is, by finishing one stage before starting the next one. Requirements must be gathered and discussed upfront to estimate the scope of work accurately, but that is the only phase in which you need to get involved. This methodology is recommended for smaller projects where the requirements are precise and where, preferably, both parties have decided to choose a fixed-price contract.
Advantages of the Waterfall methodology
If you decide to cooperate with a company that uses the Waterfall methodology, you will benefit from:
Knowing the requirements upfront – which makes planning more straightforward and speeds up the development process in general,
No need to get involved – after the requirements gathering, you can focus on your tasks,
Working in sequences – which allows the development company to continue working on multiple projects as various members of the team are required only when their phase of the project is active (for example, developers and test engineers can work on other projects while business analysts gather the requirements).
Disadvantages of the Waterfall methodology
The Waterfall methodology may seem better organised, but it also has disadvantages. Choosing this approach, you risk facing the following:
Ineffectiveness of requirements – you need to know exactly what you expect the product to do at the very beginning and share this knowledge with business analysts very specifically. If you find providing the chosen company with details difficult, you may receive a product which does not meet your requirements.
Inflexibility – since the process of developing software often lasts for months, the requirements may, and in most cases do, change. Unfortunately, such changes are not possible to implement in the Waterfall methodology, which makes your future software insufficient,
Project failure – when working sequentially, testing the software is possible only when coding is completed, which means developers may spend weeks on something which will not work without knowing it, causing severe project delay at the same time,
Dissatisfaction – even if you state your requirements clearly, business analysts may misunderstand you and, as a result, lead to developing software which does not suit your needs at all.
What is the Agile methodology
The Agile methodology was first introduced back in 2001, starting a revolution in software development practices. Unlike Waterfall, Agile is an iterative and team-based approach which focuses on individuals and interactions over processes and tools. In essence, it emphasises collaboration when developing software, both within the team and with clients. All work is split into phases called sprints, and after each sprint, a working and shippable part of the software is provided. It fits both large and small projects and allows a software development company to handle undefined and evolving requirements.
Advantages of the Agile methodology
The reasons why the Agile methodology is so popular are noticeable right from the beginning of the software development process. These are:
Flexibility – when your requirements change, a software development company using the Agile methodology adjusts the product to your needs.
Involvement – after each of the sprints, you receive a shippable part of the product, which enables you to make sure that the company understands your needs,
User-focus – developers aim to provide you with practical yet straightforward features, allowing you to start learning how the solution will work right from the first sprint,
Adaptability – every sprint is followed by software testing, which allows detecting and fixing bugs faster, improving the quality of the product at the same time,
Timing – if your primary concern is time, developers can quickly prepare a basic shippable version of the product and then build it upon in the following sprints.
Disadvantages of the Agile methodology
Scrum, an approach which uses the Agile methodology, works excellently in the case of almost all digital projects; however, it also has its downsides. Instead of being called disadvantages, they are often perceived as demands which are possible to overcome. This methodology requires:
Involvement – choosing a software development company which uses the Agile methodology requires you to commit to the project yourself and share feedback after every sprint. Your absence may slow down the progress.
Team dedication – which is instead an inconvenience for the company and not you as a customer. Every project requires a dedicated team, and its members cannot work on anything else,
Undefined documentation – as requirements are not clarified upfront, the documentation tends to be chaotic. It may influence new team members who wish to catch up on the project.
Having experimented with both Waterfall and Agile methodologies, we have created an approach which suits our customers best. This hybrid brings out the flexibility offered by Scrum and preserves the cost visibility that Waterfall is known for. We gather all the requirements at the beginning, yet split the work into sprints and remain open to any changes which may occur during the development process. This allows us to complete every project with success.
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