Waterfall versus Agile
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The software development process has been around since the first computer program was written nearly 70 years ago.

Over time, the Waterfall emerged as one of the most popular development methodologies. The 21st century saw the rise of Agile, a movement arguably better equipped to handle the fast-paced interconnected business world of today.

What follows is a quick overview of both methodologies, while commenting on a few pros and cons of each. Hopefully, you will gain a better insight of whether Agile or the Waterfall is the most appropriate for how your company writes software.


The Venerable Waterfall Method

The Waterfall methodology first evolved as a reaction to disorganized software development projects. It is known for sharply defined phases that happen in a predetermined and linear order, with little room for flexibility. In fact, one of the major weaknesses of the Waterfall is the high cost of fixing software design or coding issues discovered during the testing phase.

On the other hand, the fact it still sees wide use in the industry means most project managers, developers and other team members are likely familiar with its concepts and execution. Because nearly all of the project planning takes place upfront, Waterfall projects are also easier to budget compared to Agile efforts. Just make sure no major defects are discovered during testing, as noted earlier.

With the Waterfall, any feedback and testing happens towards the end of the project plan. In addition to the higher cost of fixing defects, clients aren’t able to offer opinions earlier in the process. This lack of iterative feedback may lead to an application that doesn’t meet the needs of the customer.

An Agile Methodology for a Nimble Business World

The Agile Manifesto entered the technology world largely as a reaction to the Waterfall and similar, older methodologies. Flexibility is its hallmark, as design and coding occur in smaller chunks, allowing for timely feedback from the client. This places the onus on the project manager or Scrum Master to facilitate communication between all relevant parties – collaboration is important!

Agile projects are difficult to predict and estimate – not surprising considering its collaborative and evolutionary approach to software. More structured methodologies, like the Waterfall, are more appropriate for larger, legacy projects, especially at companies new to Agile or the DevOps organizational structure. Ultimately, the best choice for methodology depends on the nature of the effort and the abilities of your team.


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