Effective management of a software development project is a challenge. However, if you would manage it properly, then you would have a chance to deliver high-quality products. Currently, the Agile and Waterfall approaches are most commonly used. Many tech managers face a dilemma of which approach to choose for their project. I would like to help you in this choice. I have prepared a detailed analysis of the Agile and Waterfall approaches. You are invited!
What is Agile?
Agile is an approach based on the continuous iteration of the development and testing of produced programming. The product is developed gradually, and in parallel with it, developers carry out tests to maintain the high quality of work. Agile also enables better communication and exchange of information between the development team and the client.
Agile provides high flexibility for changes. If during the project it turns out that the initial arrangements do not make sense, then the development team may change the assumptions. Undoubtedly, the programming being created is definitely more stable. The team works under so-called sprints. At a strictly defined time, they focus on developing specific functionalities. During the sprint, tests are performed to make sure that the software is stable and free of bugs.
The Agile approach focuses on making the team work as effective as possible. This is a great way to develop minimum viable products (MVPs). Thanks to Agile, the first product functionalities can be achieved in a relatively short time. Customers can quickly see the first functionalities.
What is Waterfall?
Waterfall, otherwise known as the cascade model, includes dividing the design into individual phases that follow one another. The project starts with planning and analysis, and then the development and implementation phases, and finally tests and implementation. The whole project is very predictable. Reluctant teams make changes to the assumptions set out at the beginning of the project.
In the Waterfall approach, the transition to the next phase is possible only after the completion of the previously. Such designs have little flexibility. There is also minimal involvement on the part of the customer who does not participate directly in the daily work with the development team.
Waterfall will be most effective for projects that are very predictable and understandable because each iteration is time consuming and requires considerable improvement expenditure.
Agile or Waterfall. Which is a better solution for your project?
Perhaps, you are facing such a challenge right now. Therefore, to compare both approaches to project management (mainly in the perspective of software development), I have prepared a table that illustrates the differences between Agile and Waterfall.
|The project is developed as part of so-called sprints. During them, the team focuses on the development of previously established functionalities. After their completion, it moves to the next stage. Individual stages are planned step by step after each sprint.||The project is divided into predetermined stages.|
|Agile is a flexible approach.||Waterfall is a very structured approach to project development. The work plan is defined at the very beginning. There is a rigid design structure.|
|Project details can be changed during its duration.||The team is reluctant to make any changes to the project specification.|
|The client actively participates in the development of the project. There are regular check points. The client is involved, which ensures that the project is being developed in line with his/her expectations.||The client does not actively participate in the project.
|Agile is an iterative approach. The team works from general to detailed. First, it focuses on the basic functionalities of the product, and then it extends with more complex functionalities.||Waterfall is a cascading approach. To build the final product, going through several stages is necessary because each phase is responsible for different functionalities.|
|Tests are performed after each sprint.||Tests are not performed regularly.|
|The entire team manages the project. Planning meetings take place, during which everyone decides about the task they will deal with. In this way, team members focus on what they are really good at.||The project manager plays an important role. He and the team decide on the division of tasks.|
|The risk of failure is relatively small due to constant contact with the client and developing the project step by step.||The risk of failure increases. Initially assumed plans may differ from what will be built during the whole project.|
Still don’t you know? Find out more about Hybrid Solution!
Although the Agile approach is increasingly dominating project management, Waterfall still has its supporters. Occasionally, the Agile and Waterfall approaches can be combined. If I would choose between Agile and Waterfall, I would definitely go for Agile because of my personal experience. We have been using this approach at Codest for years, and I can say that it works very well. But anyway, a hybrid solution may also be a good idea. Waterfall is still used by many managers who want to know the documentation and stick to it from the very beginning of their projects. Thus, how can you combine both approaches? You must focus on obtaining the most important benefits of Agile and Waterfall. I will give you an example. During the project, we can stick to the previously specified documentation, but let us stay flexible to changes. To this end, pay attention to the quality of communication with your client. If you decide that changes should be made to the documentation, then please inform your customer, make sure that everything is accepted by both sides, and then make changes to the documentation.
You must be aware that hybrid solution carries some dangers. One of them is the lack of precise arrangements as to how much we use Agile and Waterfall. The lack of clear rules may later lead to misunderstandings. That is why I will emphasize the role of communication with your client once again. When you develop software products, your customer must understand that it is impossible to plan everything from beginning to end. If you inform your client that deviations from the underlying documentation may arise during the project and he fully respects it, then you have a good chance of success. In short, both sides must understand their needs and match their own work styles.
As you can see, you have three solutions. I personally recommend you choosing Agile, especially when you want to develop software development projects. In my opinion, this is the most effective solution and transparent for the client. You can be sure that you are actually developing a product that meets all expectations. In addition, in my opinion, Agile saves time and guarantees high quality.