What Is The Difference Between Agile and Waterfall

2021-10-22 16:12:49
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Summary : You've probably heard of these two terms, but do you really know how they compare? Learn the differences between software development methods and understand why and when each method should be used in a software development project.

Agile vs Waterfall: Comparing The Two Software Development Methods

Source: Freepik

Software development is a complex process that requires diligence and careful planning. There are a number of methods but the most well-known software development approaches are Agile and Waterfall, which include a set of defined processes known as the software development life cycle. The entire process consists of several phases, each with its own structured flow from one stage to the next.

Agile vs. waterfall is the central question when it comes to software processes. In this article, we will discuss agile vs. waterfall and highlight the differences between these two methods of developing software.

The Agile Methodology

In 2001, the Agile Manifesto was published that redefined the way of software development. The agile approach is all about rapid and thorough completion of the application. Agile software development methodologies involve continuous iteration testing unlike the Waterfall model. This process allows for more contact between the client, the developer, the manager, and the tester.

The agile development methodology has become increasingly popular in recent years. Software developers are progressively turning to agile development in order to find more flexibility in their workflows since these agile processes offer the benefits of shorter project deadlines and more flexibility to developers.

The Agile Methodology: Advantages

  • The agile process is iterative, meaning it focuses on short-term goals and results.

  • It is flexible, allowing teams to change their minds about certain aspects of the project throughout development.

  • The agile process is highly collaborative, with business stakeholders working side by side with developers throughout the software development life cycle.

The Agile Methodology: Disadvantages

  • The agile process includes various levels of documentation, but these are not strict requirements because agile values working software over comprehensive documentation. This means that you can expect to see less documentation in place before development begins within an agile project.

  • The agile process has a loose structure and is not easily scalable.

  • Agile processes can be particularly challenging for large teams that require strict oversight throughout the software development life cycle.

Fig. 01. Agile is a flexible, iterative approach to software development and project management.

Source: Freepik

The Waterfall Methodology

The traditional waterfall approach has been in use since the 1970s. Waterfall is a linear process with defined stages, from requirements to development and testing. The waterfall approach specifies a one-way process that does not allow for backtracking or changes. The sequential nature of waterfall development ensures thoroughness and completeness at each stage before moving forward to the next phase in the software development life cycle.

The Waterfall Methodology: Advantages

  • The waterfall approach offers more structure with a clear and well-defined scope of work, as well as requirements that can be met with certainty.

  • The validation testing at each stage guarantees quality at every stage of the software development life cycle, so you have more confidence in the final product.

  • It prioritizes quality over speed, meaning that the completed product is not expected to be perfect. Rather than focusing on agile deadlines and flexible goals, waterfall projects are built around a specific timeline with rigid milestones in place.

  • The waterfall method offers a clear way to manage budgets, deadlines, and staff members so you can stay on track throughout development.

  • Waterfall is especially beneficial for large teams that require strict oversight of the project from beginning to end.

The Waterfall Methodology: Disadvantages

  • Once you begin development under this method, there is no going back.

  • The waterfall approach is not flexible, meaning that changes in the project scope later on can be difficult to implement.

  • The waterfall process requires thorough planning before development begins, which can lead some developers to feel as if they are "flying blind."

  • There is no room for flexibility in the waterfall process, and changes must be made at each stage of development.

  • Waterfall requires a more rigorous approach to documentation and a stricter adherence to deadlines throughout development.


Agile vs Waterfall: Comparing The Two Software Development Methods

The agile and waterfall methodologies have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, so it's important for developers to understand which approach will work best for their specific project.

The agile vs waterfall debate is heating up among leading software companies as agile gains momentum with developers who prefer flexibility over comprehensive documentation processes that are associated with Waterfall projects. However, agile processes don't come without their drawbacks. Agile may not necessarily work for every project and may not be the best option for certain types of software development projects.

If you are considering agile vs waterfall methods, it's important to determine which is right for your business based on its unique requirements and industry standards.

Agile or Waterfall: The Best Way To Choose 

Making the choice between agile and waterfall methodologies is difficult for many developers, but in order to choose a software development process that works the best for your project, it's important to understand what agile can and cannot do.

First, it's important to determine which agile vs waterfall approach is best for your project. It might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions before you begin:

  • Do I need to use a flexible or stable software development process for my business?

  • How much flexibility does my team need during agile development (i.e., can deadlines be missed or should we be able to regularly revise the project scope)?

  • Are there any industry standards that agile vs waterfall must adhere to?

  • How does agile affect my team's morale and productivity levels (i.e., impact on deadlines, quality of code, etc.)? 

Ultimately, the traditional agile vs waterfall debate often comes down to project size, culture, budget, and timeline, among other factors. In agile vs waterfall, the agile approach is more popular with startups and smaller businesses whereas larger corporations typically opt for a more traditional process that includes documentation and planning at each stage of development.

Making the agile vs waterfall decision based on your needs and business goals will help ensure that all parties are satisfied throughout each step of the agile or waterfall flow process. If you are still unsure about which approach is right for you, consider consulting software development companies with agile and waterfall experience. 

Fig. 02. Agile vs waterfall boils down to which method is appropriate for your project's needs.

Source: Freepik

Agile vs Waterfall: The Bottom Line

When choosing between agile or waterfall methodologies, it's important to consider your business needs and industry standards. Both agile vs waterfall methods have their benefits, but it's a matter of finding the right approach for your specific project requirements.

While agile is ideal for companies looking to develop software quickly and efficiently, waterfall offers a more structured approach that can help large teams keep the project on-track. Ultimately, agile vs waterfall is a matter of preference; however, both agile and waterfall development processes can deliver the desired results when implemented correctly by an experienced team of developers. 

ZenTao: Management Software Solution 

ZenTao specializes in providing expert management solutions to businesses throughout the world. Contact us to know more about agile development and how our leading collaboration tools can help your business!


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