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Waterfall vs Agile Methodology in Software Development

Development workflow methodology is one of the first questions which comes after choosing an outsourced development partner. Today we want to cover this topic to give an answer on one of the most common questions in software development industry.

To manage a project successfully, the manager or development team must choose a software development methodology which will work best for the project at hand. All methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses  which is why we’d like to share our experiences as to which methodology we see as being appropriate for which cases. As a company with 10+ years of web and software development experience, we hope the following overview will help you decide the most suitable option for software development project .

The most popular development methodologies are waterfall and agile.  They exist for different reasons, and some of the pros and cons of each are as follows.

The Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall is often considered as a most traditional development model. It’s a linear approach which consists of consecutive events. Here’s an infographic  describing the typical sequence of development and delivery activities:

Waterfall Software Development Methodology

When following  a waterfall process, each stage represents a distinct point in the software development lifecycle  Typically, each stage is separated by a decision gate which requires the approval of the customer before the next stage can commence.  One of the defining features of waterfall development is the use of strong project management systems, where all the aspects about development lifecycle are pre-defined and full scope of work is known in advance. With the exception of  reviews and approvals, active participation by the customer during a project stage is not necessary .  

Tracking progress within a project stage  is not big of a deal because goals and deliverables are pre-established in advance of each development stage. However, on the flip-side, the gathering and defining of requirements  can be one of the most challenging aspects of waterfall development. In addition it can be hard for a customer to visualize all the expected results of the final product when negotiating the scope and budget with the development team upfront. This can lead to  possible dissatisfaction with the delivered product if certain aspects of the project are left unclarified, and the product fails to align with what the customer was envisaging.   

The Agile Methodology

Agile Software Development Methodology

Agile is a type of rapid application development. It’s a team based approach which emphasises rapid application development and delivery with fully functional components. Instead of scheduled planning, agile methodology uses sprint phases. Each sprint is often defined as running list of planned deliverables for a certain period of time. It demands  full-time customer involvement throughout the project. The customer can review and approve the changes during the development cycle by having a direct cooperation with the project team. Agile can help you to quickly launch a basic version of working software which can be improved later during the project. However the high amount of customer involvement can be much of a problem for those customers who simply don’t have that much time to participate in their product development processes. Also, because of the time-boxed development sprints could be a problem because of the incompletion within the allotted time frame. The management of such projects gets much easier when the all members of your team are located in the same space, which cannot be provided by lots of the offshore development companies. You should choose right development partner which can provide you an in-house development team if you want to use an agile methodology for your project.

Making the choice

As an experienced offshore web and software development agency we’ve had experience of working with both methodologies for different customers. This have helped us to clarify the  key aspects which should be pre-defined before making your final decision on whether to choose waterfall or agile methodology.

We believe that this chart will help you in choosing the perfect fit for your needs:

If you’re still wondering about what should you do with your project or how to proceed , you can contact our development agency.

As an experienced offshore development agency we can provide you high-quality web or software development as well as a proficient consultancy and qualified project management. We continually assess our performance to the evolving needs of IT-business in general.

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