Blue Flower

In this short report, we share the main differences between Waterfall project management practices and Agile product development methods.

Agile and Waterfall are two very popular software development methodologies used in organizations today. There are differing opinions regarding the superiority of the two methodologies. Both have their own characteristics, pros and cons, and work better in different circumstances.

Waterfall characteristics - the oldest method and the most common project management methodology. It is based on the sequence of tasks until the delivery of the final product, each of which is performed one by one, in a row. There are various stages of development such as specification identification, concept, analysis, design, coding, testing, debugging, installation, and ultimately maintenance. The team that develops the model moves on to the next stage only after completing the previous one. Software engineers spend a lot of time at each stage so that there are no errors once the program is ready for testing. Reference: Agile vs Waterfall management methodology

Once the software is designed, its coding is performed without changes introduced at later stages. It is common practice to require design, coding, and analysis teams to work separately on different parts of the project. Documentation is an integral part of software development in the Waterfall methodology.

Advantages of Waterfall Project Management

  • Each step is pre-planned and is based on an exact sequence.
  • One of the easiest management models. Due to its nature, each phase has specific results and an evaluation process;
  • It works well for smaller projects where the requirements are easy to understand;
  • Faster project implementation;
  • The development process and results are well documented;
  • Easily adaptive method for different phase teams;
  • Specialists in specific fields are better;
  • This methodology is useful for dependency management;

Disadvantages of Waterfall Project Management

  • This is not an ideal model for a large project;
  • If the initial requirements are not clear, this is a less efficient model;
  • Easy to implement, any change in user needs or priorities can disrupt the sequence of tasks, making them very difficult to manage. This model lacks flexibility, but if the goal we want to achieve is clear, then this would be the most appropriate model.
  • It is very difficult to make changes in the closed phases;
  • The testing process begins immediately after development. That's why there's a good chance of bugs that we'll find later in development. This makes their repairs more expensive;

Software delivery is late, changes are difficult, high risk and uncertainty, difficult to measure progress in different phases. Reference: Waterfall or Agile? What methodology to choose for your project?

Agile Project Management Development Practices

Agile - a set of methodologies called "practices" that avoid formalizing the process and emphasize that the product is delivered on time. In this methodology, each team member can work on any element of the project that is within his competence.

This methodology is most often used in software development. Agile is a flexible approach to the solid system in the waterfall, and the distinguishing feature of this system is flexibility and adaptability. Agile does not follow a specified model. Includes some iterations, including all stages of design, coding, and testing.

Advantages of Agile

  • Agile is focused on the customer process and ensures that the user is constantly involved in each phase;
  • Team groups are highly motivated and self-organized, so they are likely to perform better in development projects;
  • The method guarantees the maintenance of the quality of development;
  • The process is based entirely on progressive insights. That's why the user and the team know exactly what's done and what's not.
  • This reduces the risks in the development process.

Disadvantages of Agile

  • This is not a useful method for small development projects;
  • This requires an expert to make important decisions during workshops;
  • The costs of implementing the Agile method are lower than other development methodologies;
  • The project can easily go beyond if the Product Owner role is unclear what the end result is.

Difference between Agile and Waterfall

  • Agile is more effective because it is adaptable and responsive to real-world problems;
  • Release of the products in less time is possible by a flexible method, as last-minute changes can be included, while the waterfall in a consistent, Agile methodology is iterative in nature;
  • Agile is more popular and used in wider circumstances than waterfalls;
  • Waterfall project management practices are more suitable for developing programs that are stable and need only a small transformation;
  • The waterfall is easier to manage and the associated costs can be known in advance;

Unlike Waterfall project management practices, which do not allow changes after the design is completed, Agile is not a rigid approach and any changes that can lead to improvement can be implemented even at the last minute of software development. Even teams created to develop software through a flexible approach are multifunctional in nature, and close collaboration and sharing of expertise is a common feature in contrast to Waterfall. Instead of time-consuming documentation, the focus is on faster software development.