Agile Vs. Waterfall — Which Development Methodology Should You Choose?

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Feb 21, 2022
Updated on
May 23, 2022
Table of Content

The Agile and Waterfall methodologies are two popular development models for software. They help determine how a project is completed, managed, and delivered. The right methodology can improve workflows, communication, and team productivity. Hence, it's crucial to choose the appropriate one for your project.

However, choosing the suitable model for your software development project can be tricky since both have strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, we will compare and contrast the two development models, helping you make an informed decision on which one is best for your needs.

Let's get started!

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile was developed in 2001 as an alternative to the traditional Waterfall methodology. It is a development methodology that emphasizes collaboration and feedback between team members. This is based on the idea that requirements should be flexible and that changes can be made during the project to ensure that the end product meets the customer's needs.

Benefits of Agile Methodology

Agile has many benefits that can help you get your project done on time and under budget, provide better quality products, and increase customer satisfaction. Let's take a look at these significant benefits:

Agile is More Flexible than Waterfall

Agile allows for more flexibility, meaning you can easily change your plans and requirements as the project moves forward. This is due to its iterative and incremental approach, which allows for regular feedback from stakeholders and a higher degree of adaptation to market changes or customer needs, which can be crucial in fast-paced industries.

It Enables Team Collaboration

One of the core benefits of Agile is that it enables team collaboration. With the Waterfall methodology, individual team members work on their parts of the project and then hand them off to other team members for integration. This can lead to communication problems and missed deadlines.

With Agile, all team members work together at the same time. This means that there is constant communication and feedback between team members, which leads to better products and fewer misunderstandings.

With all team members working together towards a common goal, tasks can be completed more quickly and efficiently. In addition, because everyone has visibility into the project's progress, there is less confusion and misunderstanding.

Encourages Continuous Testing and Feedback from Stakeholders

The client-facing methodology encourages close collaboration between the development team and stakeholders. This helps ensure that everyone is always on the same page and feedback is incorporated into the project as quickly as possible. 

It also helps ensure that products are released with minimal defects and meet customer expectations upon launch. 

What Is the Waterfall Methodology?

The Waterfall methodology is a sequential software development process where each step must be completed before the next one can begin. This methodology ensures that the developers are working on tasks that align with the company's overall strategy and that all of the software components function together correctly. 

This methodology is often used in projects with well-defined requirements that have little chance for change during development.

Benefits of Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall also has many benefits that can be appealing to some project managers. Let's explore them:

It’s Easier to Track Progress and Ensure That All Tasks are Completed

The Waterfall methodology is a very linear process, making it easier to track and manage. Since each step must be completed before the next one can begin, there is less of a chance for things to go wrong. It also allows for more rigorous testing, as the product is finalized at the end of the process.

Has a Clear Definition of Each Step

This methodology helps companies plan their development process in a very clear way. You know exactly what needs to be done at each stage, and there is less ambiguity about the final product. 

It Can be Less Expensive Because it is More Predictable

Waterfall methodology is typically considered less expensive than Agile because it is more predictable. With Waterfall, you know exactly what needs to be done and in what order, so there are fewer surprises along the way. This predictability can be a significant advantage for businesses that want to stay on budget.

How to Determine Which is the Right Methodology for You

There is no definite answer on which methodology should be used on every project, since it depends on different factors. It's therefore important to consider these before determining which development methodology works best for you.

Here are some of the most critical factors:

Your Team’s Skillset and Experience

If your team is inexperienced with Agile, they may find it challenging to adopt Waterfall. That said, Waterfall may be a better option because it's more structured and less chaotic. Conversely, Agile would be a better choice if you have a team that is comfortable with change and willing to adapt on the fly. 

The Complexity of the Project

A project's complexity is one of the most important factors to consider. A complex task requires more planning and organization and is, therefore, better suited for the Waterfall methodology. On the other hand, an Agile project can be more flexible and adapt to changes more quickly, making it better suited for less complex ones. 

The Deadline for the Project

The Waterfall methodology is suitable for projects with tight deadlines, as it allows for careful planning and execution. On the other hand, Agile is more flexible than Waterfall, so it can be harder to stick to a tight schedule. So, if your project is likely to change a lot during development, then Agile may be a better choice.

How Involved are the Stakeholders in the Project? 

If the stakeholders are highly involved, you'll want a development methodology that allows regular feedback and changes. Agile is suitable for this, as it's designed to be flexible and responsive to change. On the other hand, if the stakeholders are less involved, then Waterfall may be a better option since it provides a more rigid structure that can help keep things on track.

In Closing

The bottom line is that Waterfall is an excellent methodology for projects where requirements are very clear and stable, while Agile is better for projects with rapidly changing conditions. 

The incremental and iterative nature of Agile allows for changes and adaptations as the project progresses — something that is essential in our constantly evolving digital landscape.

If you are unsure which one to choose, ask your team and stakeholders for their opinions. Then, do some research on your own to see which methodology would fit your project best.


About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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