One of the first decisions you need to make as a project manager before starting a project implementation is: Which development methodology should I use? There are several methodologies you can use to manage a project. This blog contains reasons and information about two methodologies which can help you make this decision.
What is Waterfall?
The Waterfall model is a sequential design process, often used in software development processes, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of Conception, Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Testing, Production/Implementation, and Maintenance. This means that when each of the eight stages are completed the developers move on to the next step. Once a step has been completed developers can’t go back to a previous step without reviewing the whole project and starting from the beginning. There is few room for changes or errors, so a project outcome and an extensive plan must be set in the beginning and then followed carefully.
What is Agile?
Instead of a sequential design process the Agile methodology follows an incremental team based approach. Developers start with a minimalistic project design, and then begin to work on small modules (sprints with a defined duration and a running list of deliverables planned one sprint in advance). The deliverables are prioritized by business value as determined by the customer. At the end of each sprint project priorities are evaluated and tests are run. These sprints allow bugs to be discovered in an early stage and customer feedback can easily be included into the design before the next sprint is run.
Comparison between Waterfall and Agile
In this picture you can see the differences between both methodologies at a glance.
Image source: Waterfall versus Agile
Advantages and disadvantages of both methodologies
After putting the information together, what can we conclude from all this? Both methodologies have their own strengths and weaknesses. The choice of methodology really depends on the goals you want to achieve. This all comes down to the context of a project. In fact, will it not be better to combine aspects from both methodologies to make the best possible software development process for the project?
When should you use the Waterfall methodology?
- When customers will not have the ability to change the scope of the project once it has begun
- When a clear image of what the final product should be must be worked out in advance
- When definition and quality are the keys to success instead of fast delivery
When should you use the Agile methodology?
- When customers need to be able to change the scope of the project
- When there isn’t a clear picture of what the final product should look like
- When quick production is more important than the quality of the product
- When the product is intended for an industry with fast changing standards, like software development
- When you have skilled developers available who are adaptable and able to think independently
Ultimately, although the way in which you do your work is important, most important is delivering a solid and supportable product that satisfies the customer’s needs!