Agile methodology is one of the popular modes of product development that many companies prefer. Don’t trust us? Well, here is a 2021 Statista report that shows about 31.8% of the companies prefer agile for software development. While 31.8% seems like a small amount, it isn’t. The rest of the companies use multiple other methodologies. One such other methodology is the Waterfall method. People often talk about Agile Vs Waterfall, and we shall shed a little light on that argument.
There was a time when developers used to work on a project for months and even years, and then release it in the market. This method is called the Waterfall method and while many still employ this method, it isn’t the best option for product development. Now, two questions might have popped into your head. One, what is this waterfall method? And two, why isn’t it an excellent choice for product development? Everything will become clear as you read along.
In this article, we will talk about the Waterfall model and the differences that it has compared to the Agile methodology. So basically, we are going to pit them against each other. Spoiler alert! Agile is the winner.
Agile Vs Waterfall Methodology
The agile vs waterfall debate has been two decades old since agile came into the market in 2001. While there isn’t a clear winner, many consider agile to be the best option. Well, they aren’t wrong considering the process that goes into agile, which is vastly different from waterfall methodology. The two software development life cycle (SDLC) models may have similar steps to develop a product, but they still are in no way similar in achieving the end result.
When we talk about agile methodology, the whole process is split into multiple sprints. For the unaware, sprint in agile methodology means a short-assigned period to finish a specific task. During this period, a team decides and finishes a certain amount of work for the product. After a sprint finishes, the team then moves on to the next sprint.
Let us explain that with an example. When a team is developing a product using agile, they get together and break down the whole product into sprints. The most viable product (MVP) is developed first. The team makes sure that every sprint is deliverable according to client requirements. After the first sprint is finished, they deliver the product to the client and get feedback. In case, something is left out, it is added to the product backlog. The team then takes care of it in the next sprint.
You can learn more about agile from this agile product management article.
The waterfall approach is the old traditional method of product development that was once the most used model- before agile came into the picture. Unlike Agile, the waterfall methodology is more of a linear step-by-step mode. Usually, in a waterfall model, everything is planned ahead unlike agile where only one sprint is planned at a time.
The timeline for the delivery of the entire product is decided first along with all the features that are to be added. The team then starts working on the product and goes from one step to another hence the name waterfall. Most of the time, there are 5 steps involved in the waterfall model.
- Gathering requirements.
- Software design.
The team follows these steps and proceeds to finish the product without making changes until the end. Can you see the issue here? For starters, the whole process could take from months to years depending on the scale of the product. In such situations, certain features and designs can even become obsolete as every aspect of technology is evolving rapidly.
Unless the client has provided you with all the requirements and there are no major changes to be made in each step, this model works. While the waterfall method is almost 4 decades old, it is still being employed. This again depends on the kind of project you work on, and if every detail is provided to you in the beginning.
Differences Between Agile vs Waterfall
If we talk about how the waterfall is different from agile, there are plenty of differences between the two. We have listed a few major ones below, so check them out.
- The most noticeable difference is that rather than the iterative and incremental process, waterfall employs a sequential one, that’s linear.
- Since agile development has sprints, there is a chance to make changes after each sprint. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in the waterfall model until the project ends.
- The endgame for waterfall is to deliver a successful project. Whereas in agile, it’s all about customer satisfaction.
- In the waterfall methodology, the project has multiple phases. While in agile methodology, it has multiple sprints.
- Project management is easier in agile when you compare it to the waterfall method as teams communicate in every sprint along with stakeholder involvement.
- In agile, the product launch is possible with minimum functionalities even if it isn’t complete. This doesn’t work for the waterfall as the product comes into the market after the completion of the whole project.
- For the waterfall model, the review of the test plan is only possible after the project is complete. In agile, it is possible to review the test plan for every sprint.
- In the requirement change process, test teams can take an active part in agile while the same is not possible in the waterfall method.
Agile vs Waterfall Pros and Cons
Pros of Agile Methodology
- It is easy to make changes during development which makes it more flexible.
- Better productivity due to shorter deadlines.
- Feedback from the client is a crucial factor. It helps with every step of development.
- Customer satisfaction is high.
- Well planned schedules in every sprint.
- Probably the fastest way to develop a product and release it into the market.
Cons of Agile Methodology
- Sometimes there can be too much involvement from the team which leads to different opinions.
- In other cases, less than ideal involvement can hamper the development process too.
- In some cases, the team cannot provide the deliverable when there are too many changes.
- Without proper communication among the team, it can affect the development life cycle.
Pros of the Waterfall Approach
- Better costing options for long projects.
- No interference from other teams.
- Since the team obtains the deliverables for the whole project in the very beginning, it becomes easier.
- The flow of design is better since the development cycles move in phases.
Cons of Waterfall Methodology
- It takes too long to deliver the finished product.
- There is no scope for client suggestions in the process which may lead to client dissatisfaction.
- Not possible to make changes in mid-development.
- Isn’t an ideal method for large projects when there are time constraints.
- There is no room for flexibility since all the outlines and requirements have to be provided before the development starts.
- We cannot move to the next phase unless the previous one is successful.
These are some of the agile vs waterfall pros and cons that paint a good picture of each methodology.
Why is Agile Methodology Better?
We understand that simply saying agile is better than waterfall might not sit well with everyone. This is even though it’s a fact in most cases. The only time when waterfall has an upper hand on agile is when the team has the whole project requirements before the project starts. This is not possible for every project since most of them are susceptible to changes mid-development.
Similarly, there are many constraints in the waterfall model that prevent it from being the ideal SDLC. All those constraints and disadvantages have been mentioned above. Due to such reasons when companies have switched to agile development methodology, you should too.
The good news is that you don’t have to look anywhere else because BPK Tech offers you agile development services. This, along with many other businesses and IT solutions by industry experts.
All the above information including the agile vs waterfall pros and cons is to say that agile trumps the waterfall model in many cases. Don’t get us wrong, the waterfall does work for the previously mentioned reasons. Still, in this age when businesses expect you to bring results before their competitors, choosing agile is the best option. So go on, book a consultation call and employ our services.