Agile vs Waterfall: Which methodology to use in your project?

Updated on Jan 5th, 2024

agile vs waterfall

Agile vs. Waterfall is a long debate that has been going on in the global market for quite some time now. Many marketers and agile enthusiasts argue that the waterfall is dead. However, many traditional organizations claim to use it till the day. In fact, almost 51% of the organizations have found to be using waterfall methodology, either often or always in software development.

Whatever the scenario may be, the reality is that every software development project has its needs and requirements, and that could be fulfilled with a specific development approach. Today, we will be talking about agile vs. waterfall methodology and their pros and cons to help you choose the perfect development approach.

Let’s get started!

The Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall-methodologyAs the name suggests, the waterfall development methodology is a stepped approach that includes all the vital processes needed for successful software development. It consists of a prescribed set of activities like information gathering, designing, development, and testing required for successful product development.

One cannot move to the next step unless the stakeholder approves the previous work. Waterfall methodology is quite popular and beneficial for industries with sequential processes like the manufacturing, or supply chain industry.

Here’s a peek into how the waterfall development methodology works.

1. Requirement Gathering Phase

Requirement gathering is the initial phase of the waterfall methodology, during which the project managers analyze the inputs and business needs for framing an effective development strategy. If the information is not gathered correctly, it may impact the designing phase and you may not get the design as per the expectations.

2. Designing Phase

Designing is the second step in the waterfall methodology during which the UI and the UX engineers create an aesthetic design of the product, with all the key features and highlights. If any customizations are needed in the product, it should be mentioned in the designing phase.

3. Development Phase

The development of the product is the third and most crucial step in the waterfall methodology. As suggested by the stakeholder, the development team uses a particular language and technology platform to build the application. If any changes come, the project manager must move a step backward to rework on the design as per the customer’s suggestions.

4. Testing Phase

Testing is always the most crucial phase in any sort of software development methodology. Waterfall testing comprises testing the project either manually or through automated testing to ensure that every feature and functionality of the product runs smoothly on the desired platforms.

5. Deployment Phase

Once everything is ensured from the development side, the last step is to deliver the product to the owner. This step also includes providing after-sales support and guidance to the project owner to leverage the project without any issues seamlessly.

All in all, the waterfall methodology involves a step-by-step approach to developing a particular product.

Waterfall methodology

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

Let us now discuss the advantages of the waterfall development methodology to understand why, even today, many companies are using the waterfall for their product development.

1. A Well-defined Methodology

The waterfall is one of the tried-and-tested methods that the global sector has been leveraging for quite now. When there was no other development approach, the waterfall was the first to adopt all the industries.

2. Provide Detailed Visibility into Project

Getting detailed insights is another benefit of the waterfall methodology. You can know what all steps will be there while building the project, and can predict the exact date of delivery with testing. The waterfall method ensures timely completion of the project and eventually results in cost and resource savings.

3. Ease of Working 

With the waterfall methodology, the developers and testers can work seamlessly on the project. Once the requirement and the design are finalized, they do not need to work on that part again and can work on the development and testing part to complete the project.

4. Predictable Results

With the waterfall methodology, you can get an accurate completion time of your project. You even will have predictable results as all the things from information to the testing results will be verified by you.

5. More Familiarity

Last but not least, with waterfall methodology, you can work hassle-free, as almost all the industries once used waterfall, and so everyone is familiar with this approach. Many of the industries, even today, use the waterfall approach in some of the projects.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology

As every coin has two sides, so does the software development approach. After discussing the pros of waterfall methodology, let us now discuss why today’s global sector is moving away from the waterfall.

1. Less Room for Creativity

The waterfall is a sequential process and prohibits the owner from making any changes in the project during the development phase. The project manager will have to move a step backward and need to make changes in the designs if any customizations occur. That eventually increases project completion time.

2. A bit Costly

As discussed earlier, if the stakeholder has to make any project changes, it will require the project manager and the developers to begin from the previous phase. So, all those factors contribute to more costs while using waterfall methodology.

3. Problems in Requirement Evaluation

Every project manager has different perceptions, and that causes trouble during the information gathering phase while using the waterfall method. Now, because different managers participate in the information gathering phase, there might be communication gaps and as a result the documentation phase becomes longer than needed.

4. Efforts in Building Documentation

As discussed in the point mentioned above, when the requirement planning takes time, it impacts the documentation framing process. As a result, the final documentation process becomes a bit time-consuming.

The Agile Methodology

Agile methodologyAgile methodology is one of the best development approaches where the requirement and customizations evolve through iterations. The complete project is divided into sprints that make it easy to incorporate changes during any development phase. Maybe, that’s the reason agile methodology is widely accepted today!

Here’s a look at the working procedure of the agile methodology.

1. Initial Requirement Analysis

The first step is to analyze the project requirements initially. Unlike the waterfall methodology, the agile approach initially processes the customer’s information to prepare a sample design.

2. Design

Once the initial information is evaluated, an aesthetic design is created and presented to the stakeholder. The stakeholder can seamlessly determine how their product will look and what other functionalities they want after examining the design.

3. Development

During the development phase, the sprint is created based on the design and requirements finalized by the stakeholder and project manager. Once the sprint or the initial product is created, it is sent for the testing.

4. Agile Testing

In the testing phase, the software solution is checked for any bugs or development gaps unseen during the development process. Additionally, like the waterfall methodology, the agile approach can include the manual and the automated testing approaches.

5. Feedback

Here comes the crucial stage; feedback in the middle of the project makes an agile approach different from the waterfall methodology. During the agile approach, the software is divided into sprints. Once the first sprint is completed, it is sent to the stakeholder. He/She then checks the feasibility of the project, and if they have any corrections, then it is made without revisiting the designing phase.

6. Evaluate Feedbacks And Work on Next Sprint

As soon as the client suggests some changes, the project managers then work on those changes and prepare the next sprint as per suggestions. The next sprint also undergoes the development and testing phase and then to the customer for review and feedback. This process continues until the final sprint is verified and approved by the client. Then the deployment process takes place, and that ends the agile development lifecycle.

Read More: Agile Development – Precision and Flexibility Together

Advantages of Agile Methodology

So that was how the agile methodology works during the software development life cycle. Let us now look at some of the advantages of making agile the most popular method for the software development process in the global world.

1. It Offers Flexibility

With agile methodology, you can incorporate the changes during any phase of the product development lifecycle. The agile approach enables you to quickly complete the development process so that you can invest more time in research and enhancement of the project.  That eventually saves a lot of time and resources.

2. Agile Empower your Team

During an agile workflow, multiple team members like designers, testers, and developers can deliver a product based on customer’ customer expectations. No specific project manager is required in some of the projects. However, the more significant projects where time and preciseness are needed, the project manager becomes critical.

3. Less Development Time

As discussed in the point mentioned above, the agile methodology enables the user to make changes in the project without going to the previous phase. That thing saves a lot of time for the developers, and the product is built quickly and effectively.

4. Developers can learn more

While using an agile approach for software development, the developers can focus on more crucial things. In other words, as product development becomes less, the time for learning and incorporating new things increases making the developers more efficient.

5. More Room for Creativity

Lastly, there is always a scope for creativity in agile methodology. The developers and testers can implement new technologies and testing methods while using the agile approach as they have plenty of time to do so.

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

Having talked about the pros of agile methodology, let us see some drawbacks of the approach.

1. Less Predictable Results

Unlike the waterfall methodology, the results in the agile approach are somewhat not predictable. As in, the stakeholder might not know the project’s exact status during a particular time as the stages are flexible and repeatable.

2. Demands Greater Time of stakeholder

The stakeholder might need to invest a considerable time to view the application and approve it after every sprint is created. That makes the work of the stakeholder a bit more tedious.

3. Documentation is not Deliverable

Documentation can play a significant role in many of the projects, including healthcare software solutions, and finance software applications. However, that aspect is not available in the agile methodology as the approach works on rebuilding the sprints until the final product is created.

4. Better Communication is Required

It is no doubt that agile makes the developers self-reliant. However, perfect communication amongst different teams is required to complete the project on-time and without errors while using the agile method.

Agile vs. Waterfall: How to choose?

agile vs waterfall methodologyAre you still confused over what to choose between agile vs. waterfall? Don’t worry, we have got you covered! Here are some crucial factors that can help you decide whether to go for an agile development or a waterfall development approach. Read on to know more.

1. Business Requirements

While evaluating the development approach, it is very crucial first to understand your business needs. For instance, if your project has some strict requirements and there is a little chance that your requirements will change, it is better to go for a waterfall methodology.

On the other hand, if you have planned some software development but are unsure of the features, and technology platform, or you are open for customizations then opt for an agile development approach.

2. Organizational Processes

The next significant factor that you need to consider is organizational processes. If you are engaged in business with strict rules and adherence to stringent compliances, it is better to opt for a waterfall methodology.

Likewise, if you are a flexible organization that doesn’t have strict rules to follow, agile would be a perfect development approach.

3. Stakeholders Involvement

The stakeholder’s involvement also plays a vital role in defining the scope of the development approach. Suppose the project owner does not want to get involved during the whole development process. If he/she doesn’t have much time, then the waterfall will be best as it requires the stakeholders only during the initial phase.

However, if the stakeholder is very much interested in the project, or if his/her involvement is necessary for the complete development lifecycle, then agile would serve the purpose much better.

4. Type of Project

The type of project also impacts the decision of choosing between agile vs. waterfall. Suppose the ongoing project is only the enhancement of an existing entity. If the features and functionalities are fixed, and only the interface is to be changed, then the waterfall methodology is best.

On the other hand, if you are making a completely different software or mobile application that is not readily available in the global market, agile would be the best option. While using agile, you will discover many more features that might make your project accessible in the worldwide market.

5. Timeline

Time is money in today’s digital world. So, while deciding the development approach, analyze how much time you have got to develop it. For instance, if you have a deadline for your project and crossing that date would affect you economically, it is better to choose a waterfall. Reason? You will have a fixed timeline and predicted outcome.

On the other hand, if you are flexible regarding your project development, then the time may not be a big issue. In such a case, go for agile development as you can include and test various features to decide which ones fit perfectly in your business.

6. Budget

Last but surely not least is the cost of the project. If you have a fixed budget that can’t be changed under any circumstances, the waterfall is the best option as it will not consume much of your time and resources and give you a predicted result.

Similarly, if you have a budget with a wiggle room, you can extend your budget if you get something extra than your requirements, then surely opt for an agile methodology. Although time would be extra, you will surely get a product that could outgrow your competitors.

Waterfall to agile

Over to You!

That concludes our article on what to choose between agile and waterfall for your next development project. At last, we can say that choosing the best software development approach can impact your software and, eventually, your business much significantly. Hence, you should consider all the factors mentioned above to make an informed decision. All in all, serving their business needs and clients is the first goal for any organization, and we, at Matellio, can help you in that!

We have got years of experience in delivering the best-in-class custom solutions and mobile applications to all our clients. Whether an agile approach or a waterfall approach, we can take care of all your requirements and challenges in a cost-effective manner. Have more questions?  Reach us today to get all your answers, plus, get a free 30-minute consultation on your first visit. So, hurry up! Till then, Happy Reading.

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