Agile or Waterfall: Which Approach is Right for You?

Agile and Waterfall — Preeminent Management Methodologies

The Agile Model

Advantages

  • Speed: Working software can be delivered quickly and at a consistent pace.
  • Flexibility: The process adapts to changes as they occur, which allows for immediate client and end-user feedback that can be used in the next iteration.
  • Predictability: Since every cycle is of a fixed-time period, project timelines are easier to predict.
  • Value-focused: Development is often more value-focused, which helps fulfill specific end-user needs.

Challenges

  • Continuous testing: Testing is needed throughout the project, which can stretch resources and increase costs if not complemented by continuous integration and automation testing.
  • Frequent collaboration: Active customer involvement can add to implementation time and expense if processes are not adapted across your organization.
  • Scope definition complexity: The iterative nature of Agile development can create complications in defining the project scope if iteration goals are not defined properly.
  • Self-organized team: Team members need to possess and exercise multiple skill sets to help each other and remove internal impediments as much as possible.

The Waterfall Method

Advantages

  • Well-documented: Each phase calls for comprehensive documentation, which makes it easier to leverage code of previous projects and develop a solid base for upcoming projects.
  • Firm deadlines: A defined starting point and a fixed evaluation process for each phase make it easier to estimate costs and meet timelines.
  • Well-organized: Clearly defined projects with sequential workflows help simplify status updates to all your project stakeholders.

Challenges

  • Difficult to modify: Since testing and feedback don’t occur until late in the project, modifications and improvements can be complex and costly to implement.
  • Lack of foresight: Since requirements are often unknown when a project is initiated, designers can’t always foresee problems that may arise out of the implementation process. Thus, Waterfall requires that key team members — and especially the project manager — have worked in similar circumstances.
  • Delivery speed: Due to the sequential approach, your team can’t produce a shippable product until all project phases (SDLC) are completed.

Evaluating Best-Fit Project Types

Choose Agile when:

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is more pressing than product completeness.
  • Clients have the opportunity to revise the project scope of future deliverables based on market condition and response.
  • You have flexible and expert developers who can think independently.
  • The product is planned for a market with rapidly evolving requirements or standards.

Choose Waterfall when:

  • The end product design and features are clearly defined and determined.
  • Clients have a clear vision and are not expecting to modify the project scope drastically once it has commenced.
  • Product completeness, rather than speed to market, is vital to success.

Optimizing Your Return on Investment

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