Agile vs Waterfall: What is the Difference? Which Method is Best for You?

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Businesses often debate about whether they should use the Agile or Waterfall method for software development. So, what is the difference between these two methods? And which one is best for your business? In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of each method and help you decide which one is right for you. The two main development methodologies are Agile and Waterfall. The main difference between these two methods is the level of flexibility and adaptability.

 

Waterfall is a more traditional approach that is based on a linear model. This means that each stage of the project must be completed before moving on to the next stage. Whereas Agile is a iterative and incremental software development methodology. This means that businesses using Agile will create prototypes of their product and then test it with users to get feedback. They will then take this feedback and use it to improve the product before releasing it. Based on a poll of 1000 software developers, it was found that 66% of them prefer Agile over Waterfall.

 

Let’s take a look at the differences between agile and waterfall approaches. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each method, as well as why more businesses are choosing to use it today.

Waterfall Methodology:

The waterfall approach is a traditional way of developing software. It is based on a linear model, which means that each stage of the project must be completed before moving on to the next stage. The main phases of the waterfall approach are:

  1. Requirements Gathering:  In this phase, the requirements for the software are gathered from the client.
  2. Design: In this phase, the design of the software is created. This includes creating diagrams and flowcharts to visualize how the software will work.
  3. Implementation: In this phase, the code for the software is written.
  4. Testing: In this phase, the software is tested to ensure that it meets the requirements.
  5. Deployment: In this phase, the software is deployed and made available to users.

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology:

The main advantage of the waterfall approach is that it is very structured and easy to follow. This makes it easier to track progress and ensure that each stage of the project is completed on time. It is also a good choice for projects where the requirements are well-understood and unlikely to change. The main benefits of using the waterfall approach are:

  • It is easy to track progress. There is a clear path that the project must follow, so it is easy to see if it is on track.
  • It is less risky. Because each stage of the project must be completed before moving on, there is less chance of something going wrong.
  • It is easier to budget for. The waterfall approach makes it easier to estimate how long each stage of the project will take and how much it will cost.
  • Clear framework. Everyone involved in the project knows what their role is and what they need to do. This can help to avoid confusion and delays.
  • Good documentation. Every stage of the project is documented in detail, which can be helpful for reference later on.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology:

The main disadvantage of the waterfall approach is that it is not very flexible. Once the project has started, it can be difficult to make changes to the requirements. This can lead to problems further down the line if the client decides that they want something different. The main drawbacks of using the waterfall approach are:

  • Lack of flexibility. Once the project has started, it can be difficult to make changes to the requirements.
  • No feedback until the end. Because testing is only done at the end of the project, there is no way to get feedback until it is too late to make changes.
  • Risk of errors. If there are any errors in the requirements or design, they will not be discovered until the testing phase. This can lead to expensive rework.
  • Long turnaround time. The waterfall approach can take a long time to complete, as each stage must be finished before moving on.
  • Not suitable for complex projects. The waterfall approach is not a good choice for projects where the requirements are likely to change, as it is not very flexible.

Agile Methodology:

The agile approach is a more recent way of developing software. It is based on an iterative model, which means that the project is divided into small phases. Each phase is known as an sprint, and each sprint has a specific goal. There are several flavours of Agile, but the most common are Scrum and Kanban. Agile development has some core principles, which are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Agile emphasises the importance of communication and collaboration between team members.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation. In Agile, working software is more important than extensive documentation. This is because it is more important to get the product out to users as soon as possible.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. In Agile, the customer is involved throughout the development process. This helps to ensure that the product meets their needs.
  • Responding to change over following a plan. Agile recognises that requirements will change during the course of a project. Rather than following a rigid plan, it is more important to be able to adapt to these changes.

Advantages of Agile Methodology:

The main advantage of the agile approach is that it is very flexible and can accommodate changes. This is because each sprint is a self-contained unit, so if the client wants something different, it can be changed in the next sprint. The main benefits of using the agile approach are:

  • Flexibility: The agile approach is very flexible and can accommodate changes.
  • Incremental delivery: Working software is delivered incrementally, so the client can start using it sooner.
  • Improved communication: The agile approach emphasises communication and collaboration between agile team members and the client.
  • Increased visibility: In agile development, progress is measured at the end of each sprint. This provides increased visibility of the project for both the agile team and the client.
  • Improved quality: In agile development, testing is done throughout the project, which helps to identify errors early on.
  • Better customer engagement: The agile approach involves the customer in the development process, which helps to ensure that the product meets their needs.
  • Reduced risk: Because agile development is incremental, there is less risk than with the waterfall approach. If there are any problems, they can be fixed in the next sprint.
  • Shorter delivery time: In agile development, the product is delivered in short cycles, so it can be released to users sooner.

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology:

The main disadvantage of the agile approach is that it can be difficult to manage. This is because it is very flexible and there are a lot of moving parts. The main disadvantages of using the agile approach are:

  • Difficult to manage. The agile approach can be difficult to manage, as there are a lot of moving parts.
  • Not suitable for all projects. The agile approach is not a good choice for projects where the requirements are well-defined and unlikely to change.
  • Requires more management involvement. In agile development, the project manager (Scrum Master) needs to be more involved than in the waterfall approach. 
  • Can be disruptive. The agile approach can be disruptive, as agile team members need to be available for sprint planning and stand-ups.
  • Requires skilled team members. The agile approach requires agile team members to have a good understanding of the process and to be able to work well together.
  • May result in lower quality software . In agile development, testing is done throughout the project. However, this may mean that some errors are not found until after the product has been delivered.
  • May require more time and resources . The agile approach may require more time and resources than the waterfall approach, as it is more flexible and there are more moving parts.

Which Method is Best for You?

The agile approach is not suitable for all projects. It is best suited for projects where the requirements are likely to change, and where the customer is involved in the development process. If you have a large project with a tight deadline, the waterfall approach may be a better choice. When choosing which approach to use, you should consider the nature of your project and the needs of your team and customers. If you are not sure which approach is best for you, ask a professional development team for their advice. Both the agile and waterfall approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. The best method for you depends on the nature of your project and the needs of your team and customers.

Whichever method you choose, it is important to have a clear understanding of the process and to ensure that all team members are on board. A successful project depends on good communication and collaboration between all members of the team. We hope this article has helped you to understand the difference between agile and waterfall development, and to decide which approach is best for your project.

Happy developing!

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